Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, issued the following statement after a bipartisan Congressional delegation that she is leading concluded its visit to Cyprus.
“I have long been concerned by the deficiencies both domestically and abroad in safeguarding the financial system from money laundering and other forms of illicit finance. This Congress, the Financial Services Committee has passed legislation improving the reporting by banks and other financial institutions of suspicious activities to law enforcement, and closing loopholes involving the sale of real estate, arts, and antiquities. However, transnational criminal organizations and terrorists are also exploiting foreign jurisdictions with weak oversight. Until recently, for example, Russian oligarchs were reported to have laundered the spoils of their political corruption through banks in the Republic of Cyprus.
“Today, my colleagues and I depart Nicosia, Cyprus after meeting with the Minister of Finance; the Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus; the Chairwoman of CySEC, the capital markets regulator in Cyprus; the Director of MOKAS, the Cypriot Financial Intelligence Unit; the political director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and representatives of local banks and accounting firms. We discussed the legal and regulatory improvements that have been made over the past few years.
“I am pleased to see that the close cooperation and coordination between the Republic of Cyprus and the United States is beginning to pay off. And while I would like to see additional progress toward detecting and stopping illicit financial activity, our discussions and meetings with our Cypriot hosts, for which we are grateful, leave us confident that Cyprus is up to the challenge.
“I would like to thank Ambassador Judith Garber and the entire staff of the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus for welcoming and helping organize our delegation.”
Under Chairwoman Waters’ leadership, pursuant to the Committee’s oversight authority, the Committee is investigating the potential illicit use of the U.S. financial system. Chairwoman Waters has also prioritized strengthening the financial system to prevent illicit finance activities.
In June, the Financial Services Committee passed H.R. 2513, The Corporate Transparency Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation that requires corporations and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) to disclose their beneficial owners to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, ending criminals’ ability to use anonymous shell companies to hide their money and illicit activities. The bill was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Chair of the Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets, and Rep. Peter King (R-NY). It was passed by a bipartisan vote of 43 to 16.
In May, the Financial Services Committee passed HR 2514, the Coordinating Oversight, Upgrading and Innovating Technology, and Examiner Reform Act (COUNTER Act), bipartisan legislation that closes loopholes in the Bank Secrecy Act, increases penalties for those who break the law and helps provide financial institutions with new tools to fulfill their obligations under the law. This bill was introduced by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH). It was passed by a vote of 55-0.
In March, the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy convened a hearing entitled, “Promoting Corporate Transparency: Examining Legislative Proposals to Detect and Deter Financial Crime.”