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U.S. Touts Anti-Corruption Efforts in Conjunction with Hosting U.N. Conference

By:
S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Dec 18, 2023

GettyImages-183760773 Cash Stacks Money Laundering

Marking two years since the release of the U.S. Strategy on Countering Corruption, the U.S. government continues to crack down on corruption, the White House said in a statement last week, to coincide with the 10th session of the Conference of the States Parties to the U.N. Convention Against Corruption, held in Atlanta.

“Corruption poses an existential threat to prosperity, security, and democracy—for Americans and for people around the world,” the statement says. “When officials steal from their citizens or oligarchs flout the rule of law, honest businesses cannot compete, poverty grows, conflict deepens, and trust in government plummets.”

Key accomplishments and future areas of emphasis for fighting corruption include four pillars, according to the statement.: modernizing, coordinating, and resourcing U.S. efforts to fight corruption; curbing ilicit finance; holding corrupt actors accountable; preserving and strengthening the multilateral anti-corruption architecture; and improving diplomatic engagement and leveraging foreign assistance.

In a separate statement, the U.S. Department of the Treasury said that it has “redoubled its efforts to address the illicit finance and national security threats posed by corruption. Among its many corrosive effects, corruption siphons essential resources away from communities, weakens democracy and governance, erodes economic development, disadvantages law-abiding citizens and businesses, and exacerbates challenges like crime and migration.”

Other efforts are underway to combat money laundering, Accounting Today reported. During a webinar ahead of the U.N. conference, Transparency International and the Financial Accountability & Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition briefed reporters about anti-money laundering efforts and proposed legislation known as the Establishing New Authorities for Businesses Laundering and Enabling Risks to Security (ENABLERS) Act. First introduced in 2021, the legislation is an effort to close loopholes that allow "enablers" to launder illicit funds in the United States by extending anti-money laundering requirements to professional service providers, such as accountants, lawyers, and third-party payment services. 

"Accountants are part of the financial services system that helps to move money through the U.S. financial system," said Gary Kalman, executive director of Transparency International US, Accounting Today reported. "The way in which the Enablers Act currently in Congress is written, it does not say all lawyers or all accountants. It focuses rather on the types of services that are high risk, and we think it's a much better approach. If you're an accountant at a major corporation, and you're sitting there taking in receipts and doing some work around invoices or what have you, you may not be in a situation where you're an accountant that is dealing with high-risk situations. On the other hand, it was an accountant that helped Viktor Bout, a famous arms dealer, move money through corporations in Texas, Delaware and Florida. And so, when accountants are engaged in certain types of financial activities that present a high risk of money laundering, they are a gatekeeper and they are a key factor and a key player in the system. Whether it's accountants or lawyers or any profession, I think it's critical to make sure we get it right."

"The U.S. has finally admitted that it has a problem when it comes to illicit finance," said Ian Gary, executive director of the FACT Coalition, Accounting Today reported. "Two years ago at the first Biden-hosted summit for democracy, U.S. Treasury Secretary Yellen admitted that the U.S. is perhaps the easiest place to hide dirty money that may be derived from corruption and other crimes including drug trafficking, human trafficking, and environmental crimes. Last year, the authoritative Financial Secrecy Index for the first time, ranked the U.S. as the No. 1 financial secrecy jurisdiction in the world, ahead of stereotypical secrecy jurisdictions such as Switzerland or the Cayman Islands.”

To learn about the authoritative guidance for addressing enterprise-wide compliance challenges driven by advancing technology utilizations, transparency challenges and evolving governance models, attend the Foundation for Accounting Education's Anti-Money Laundering Conference on June 4.

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