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Waters Pushes for Greater Anti-Money Laundering Oversight

Today, at a Terrorism and Illicit Finance hearing entitled “Safeguarding the Financial System from Terrorist Financing,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, delivered the following statement:

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

One of the key issues this subcommittee will be looking at is the adequacy of current information-sharing authorities and the degree to which they strike the right balance between security and civil liberty concerns. Last Congress, we heard from a number of experts and Administration officials who spoke to the benefits and efficiencies that would accrue from increased information sharing between financial institutions and the government, as well as between financial institutions themselves.

But I would also note that nearly every expert who spoke in favor of improved information sharing also acknowledged that these efforts must be cognizant of the need to protect privacy and civil liberties.

So, Mr. Chairman, as we explore legislative efforts to clarify current authorities or otherwise enhance information sharing, I strongly believe that we have a responsibility to solicit views from all interested stakeholders, and we need to hear and discuss these views and concerns in a public setting such as this hearing today, and not only in private meetings.

I’d also like to touch upon another important issue, which is the gaping loophole in our anti-money laundering framework with respect to the real estate sector.

While I appreciate, Mr. El-Hindi, that your written testimony notes the, quote, “longstanding concerns,” end quote, that FinCEN has had with the money laundering risks in real estate, I must say that I find it disturbing that FinCEN continues to largely exempt the real-estate sector from even the most basic anti-money laundering requirements.

Given that high-end U.S. real estate is a key sector used by corrupt foreign leaders, drug traffickers and other criminals to launder illicit money, I believe FinCEN should take more urgent action to address these risks nationwide and on a permanent basis.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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