Posted in: news

13th June 2018

It's Time to End Anonymous Companies in the United States

Since 2014, B Team Leaders have called on governments around the world to collect and make transparent information on who owns and controls companies—beneficial ownership transparency. Globally, this issue has seen great momentum and promising action by countries including the UK (most recently in its overseas territories), Ukraine, Ghana, Kenya and at the EU level.

But today, B Team Leaders and CEOs Oliver Bäte, Marc Benioff Paul Polman and Josh Bayliss, are taking a stand for transparency of ownership information in the United States.

In the US, B Team Leaders have strongly supported bipartisan efforts over the past year to take action on this issue. Most recently, they welcomed the proposal to require companies to disclose their true owners at the time of formation in a bill titled the Counter Terrorism and Illicit Finance Act. However, critical provisions requiring the collection of beneficial ownership information have since been dropped from the bill, which the House Financial Services Committee will mark up tomorrow.

B Team Leaders and CEOs Oliver Bäte, Marc Benioff, Paul Polman and Josh Bayliss have sent a letter to key members of this Committee, and its Subcommittees, to urge them not to overlook this important issue. Without the key beneficial ownership disclosure provisions, the remaining bill will not adequately safeguard against criminal money laundering and corruption. From small business owners to big banks to state governments, numerous stakeholders have rallied behind the movement to end anonymous companies. As business leaders, B Team Leaders stand with these groups to emphasize the risk of leaving beneficial ownership out of this bill and support transparency as a means of fostering private sector integrity.

Read the full letter below.

The Honorable Jeb Hensarling
Committee on Financial Services
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Maxine Waters
Ranking Member
Committee on Financial Services
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Steve Pearce, Chairman, Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance
The Honorable Ed Perlmutter, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance
The Honorable Blaine Luetkemeyer, Chairman, Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit
The Honorable William Lacy Clay, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit

Re: New Draft of Counter Terrorism and Illicit Finance Act

June 12, 2018

Dear Chairman Hensarling and Ranking Member Waters,

Last year we issued a letter to the House Committee on Financial Services dated July 11th, 2017 to express our strong support for the Corporate Transparency Act ensuring the collection of beneficial ownership information.

As business leaders, we have welcomed the bipartisan efforts to drive progress in this area. The bill provided a much needed basic level of accountability regarding corporate ownership without creating a costly burden on business.

We have seen action on this issue in other jurisdictions where our companies operate. In 2016, the UK implemented its public beneficial ownership register and in May, the UK also introduced and passed legislation supported by both liberal and conservative parliamentarians that will require the UK’s Overseas Territories to create public registries of beneficial ownership information.The European Union has taken similar steps with the Fifth Anti Money Laundering Directive to mandate market wide public registers of beneficial ownership.

As a result of these legislative efforts, beneficial ownership is becoming a new standard for how business is conducted worldwide—with the strong support of the business community, ourselves included—except within the US.

We believe that this new standard will help us and other companies know more about who we’re doing business with, provide a tool in mitigating risk throughout our supply chains, and give us and our investors the certainty they need to manage risk and allocate capital. In addition, it offers law enforcement an important tool to combat corruption and criminal activity including money laundering and terrorist financing throughout the world. Collecting beneficial ownership within the US would reduce conditions of instability and uncertainty that impede the cultivation of stable, prosperous markets where our businesses, business partners, employees and customers can thrive and succeed.

We were greatly concerned to learn that beneficial ownership has been removed from the most recent draft of a larger bill created by the House Committee on Financial Services leadership that is intended to address illicit finance and terrorism financing. These bills, with beneficial ownership transparency provisions, are a remarkably simple yet effective way to directly address these concerns.

We therefore write to urge you to consider including this provision on beneficial ownership in the latest bill text. As business leaders, we believe such a measure is good for society and for business.

Kind regards,

Oliver Bäte, CEO, Allianz
Josh Bayliss, CEO, Virgin Group
Marc Benioff, Founder, CEO and Chairman, Salesforce
Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever