Senator Mike Crapo, Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee questions a witness at a hearing in February 2019.

© 2019 Kevin Wolf / AP Photo
 
(Washington, DC) – The United States Senate should pass a proposed law that would provide law enforcement a crucial tool for stemming corruption and advancing human rights, 10 human rights organizations said in a letter to senators today.

Four Democrats and four Republicans are cosponsoring the ILLICIT CASH Act, which would require American companies to disclose information about the people who own or control them. The bill would make it harder for corrupt foreign officials to register businesses anonymously, to hide ill-gotten gains, and to escape legal accountability. A companion bill, the Corporate Transparency Act of 2019, passed the House of Representatives on October 22 with bipartisan support.

“In October, the House of Representatives took a bipartisan stand to drive money launderers out of the shadows,” said Sarah Saadoun, business researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The US Senate should join them in barring anonymous businesses and remove a stain on the United States’ proud record of fighting corruption.”

The organizations are Amnesty International USA, Freedom House, Global Witness, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, International Labor Rights Forum, EarthRights International, EG Justice, and Enough Project/The Sentry.

Corruption poses a serious challenge to human rights in many countries. The loss of resources undermines a government’s ability to invest in health, education, housing, and other basic rights. Corrupt officials frequently target transparency advocates, journalists, and others who they fear will expose their crimes and they abuse the criminal justice system to punish their critics and protect themselves from prosecution.