Editor's Note: This op-ed by Mary Beth Goodman, Senior Advisor to the Enough Project and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, was originally posted on Think Progress
The stability of the U.S. dollar and the ease of its use even in remote corners of faraway lands make it the most exchanged currency in the world. It is the currency of choice to travelers and businessmen. The dollar is also the currency of choice for many terrorists, traffickers, and war criminals. From ISIS to the Lord’s Resistance Army to the world’s most brutal dictators and sanctioned war criminals, one common denominator is the need to move money to continue financing their operations. That often includes the need to obtain and use U.S. dollars.
Ill deeds on a mass scale require money – heaps of it. And for those who get their working capital through trafficking, pillage, and corruption comes the problem of where to stash their cash. For far too long, the American financial system and corporate structures have been exploited to enable the actions and transactions of the worst of the worst.
How is this possible? Information on the so-called “beneficial owner”– a term meaning the actual living breathing person rather than a corporate entity who ultimately owns or controls a bank account – is essential so that banks can know their customers and law enforcement can disrupt the bloody business of illicit networks and sanctioned entities.
At present, however, there is simply no legal requirement for financial institutions to gather specific information on the natural person behind a bank account when opened in the United States. Similarly, there is no requirement for states to collect information on who actually controls a company when it is formed.
Continue reading the full op-ed on Think Progress.