Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, issued the following statement after the Congressional delegation she led to Europe and the Middle East concluded its trip. Congressman Michael San Nicolas (D-GU), Vice Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), and Congressman Lance Gooden (R-TX), joined the delegation, which visited Switzerland, Germany, Cyprus and Qatar.
“Our visits to Switzerland, Germany, Cyprus and Qatar have allowed us to gain insights on a range of important issues, including Facebook’s plans to create a cryptocurrency, the effects of trade tariffs on the U.S. and our allies, the sanctions regime, and efforts to combat money laundering, illicit finance and terrorism.
“Our meetings and briefings with foreign officials and representatives, and overseas U.S. military servicemembers reinforced the importance of the Financial Services Committee’s role conducting oversight in these areas within our jurisdiction, and I will continue to prioritize and focus on these issues as Chairwoman. We will return to session as resolute as ever and informed by perspectives on the ground.”
In Switzerland, the delegation met with representatives from the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF), the Federal Data Protection and Information Commission (FDPIC), the Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), Swiss legislators, and the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland.
In Germany, the delegation met with officials from U.S. Africa Command, U.S. European Command, and the U.S. Mission in Germany.
In Cyprus, the delegation met 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, representatives of local banks and accounting firms, and the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus.
In Qatar, the delegation met with the Minister of Finance, the Governor of the Qatar Central Bank, the CEO of the Qatar Investment Authority, U.S. servicemembers at Al Udeid Air Base, and the U.S. Embassy in Qatar.
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. She has also fought for strong sanctions against Russia for its malign activities. The Committee has also focused on the impact of tariffs on the U.S. and international economies.
In addition, the Committee has scrutinized Facebook’s plans to create a cryptocurrency and digital wallet.
In July, Chairwoman Waters convened a full Committee hearing entitled, “Examining Facebook’s Proposed Cryptocurrency and Its Impact on Consumers, Investors, and the American Financial System.” David Marcus, Chief Executive Officer of Facebook’s Calibra, testified on the first panel at the hearing, followed by a panel of experts who shared their views on Facebook’s plans.
Also in July, Chairwoman Waters and other Committee Democrats sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Facebook; Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook; and David Marcus, Chief Executive Officer of Calibra, requesting an immediate moratorium on the implementation of Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency and digital wallet, until Congress enacts an appropriate legal framework.
Also in July, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 offered by Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) and cosponsored by Chairwoman Waters, passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The Sherman-Waters amendment would prohibit U.S. persons from trading in new Russian sovereign debt within 90 days of enactment, sending a strong signal to Russia, as well as to the financial markets, that the U.S. resolve to punish Russia for election interference remains strong and, if repeated, will likely trigger an even greater U.S. response.
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.
Also in June, the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy convened a hearing entitled, “Promoting Economic Growth: Exploring the Impact of Recent Trade Policies on the U.S. Economy.”
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.
Also in May, the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy convened a hearing entitled, “Assessing the Use of Sanctions in Addressing National Security and Foreign Policy Challenges.”
In April, at a Full Committee hearing, Waters pressed Secretary Mnuchin to provide the Committee with complete answers regarding the Treasury Department’s actions to lift sanctions on companies associated with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
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.”