Following reports that 70% of Trump’s real estate property sales over the past 12 months have been to secretive shell companies, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services, introduced legislation that would reveal exactly who may be seeking influence over the Trump Administration. The End Secret Holdings and Ethical and Legal Loopholes (SHELLs) Act would require the President, the Vice President and other Executive branch officials and staff to publicly disclose the ‘beneficial owners’—the actual people — behind any purchases of their real estate holdings.
“The President is not exempt from the bedrock principle that public service is a public trust,” said Ranking Member Waters. “This bill will allow the American public to know who might be seeking to influence the President, his family and his closest advisors through a web of real estate transactions totaling millions of dollars. This transparency is essential for our democracy.”
Ranking Member Waters was joined on the bill by original cosponsors Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee, and Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee:
“It’s vital we have a clear understanding of the President’s private financial dealings,” said Ranking Member Velázquez. “Absent such transparency, there are serious concerns about whether the President and the White House are being improperly influenced by private or foreign entities. Donald Trump needs to come clean with the American people and, as he has so far refused to do so, Congress must now act. Given the Administration’s ongoing intransigence on this issue, we must ask -- what exactly is the President hiding?”
“Our government must represent the needs of the American people, not the interests of foreign governments hoping to curry favor with our elected officials,” said Ranking Member Conyers. “Where foreign money is involved, our laws should provide the highest levels of scrutiny. As real estate purchases through shell corporations are a possible means of obscuring foreign influence, I am proud to join Rep. Waters’ legislation —which sheds much-needed sunlight on these murky practices.”
Yesterday, Ranking Member Waters wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanding his immediate recusal from any Department of Justice investigation into Deutsche Bank’s Russian mirror trading scheme and any investigation into loans Deutsche Bank provided to President Trump or his immediate family members. Last week, Ranking Member Waters and four Financial Services Committee Ranking Members introduced a Resolution of Inquiry (ROI) directing Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to provide Congress with documents from Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) regarding the financial and business dealings of President Trump, his family members, and his associates. In addition, Ranking Member Waters has led four letters— one to Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, one to Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan, one to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and another to Deutsche Bank’s external counsel —requesting their cooperation in efforts to learn the full scope of Russian influence on this Administration. To date, none of the recipients have assisted in these requests.
Click to view the bill text and the fact sheet.