Tag Archives: National Defense Authorization Act

Give Him Credit For Consistency…

Give Trump credit for one thing: he’s consistent. He has gone through a year of campaigning and four years with the title of President without learning much of anything about effective political strategy or even how government operates. He has remained fixated on one thing and one thing only: himself.

As Americans have been treated to yet another in a tiresome stream of Presidential hissy-fits–this time, about affixing his signature to a document negotiated by his own administration–we’ve once again allowed a Trumpian tantrum to distract from a very interesting provision contained in the National Defense Authorization Act that he vetoed at about the same time. His explanation for that veto–the first time ever that an NDAA has been vetoed–was that it included a provision requiring the renaming of military bases that are currently named for confederate generals, in what I’m sure he agrees was a war of northern aggression…

Heather Cox Richardson pointed to what was likely the real sticking point.

It includes a measure known as the Corporate Transparency Act, which undercuts shell companies and money laundering in America. The act requires the owners of any company that is not otherwise overseen by the federal government (by filing taxes, for example, or through close regulation) to file a report that identifies each person associated with the company who either owns 25% or more of it or exercises substantial control over it. That report, including name, birthdate, address, and an identifying number, goes to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The measure also increases penalties for money laundering and streamlines cooperation between banks and foreign law enforcement authorities.

America is currently the easiest place in the world for criminals to form an anonymous shell company which enables them to launder money, evade taxes, and engage in illegal payoff schemes. The measure will pull the rug out from both domestic and international criminals that take advantage of shell companies to hide from investigators…

As Richardson points out, the ability to use shell companies to mask what is really going on means America’s political system is awash in secrecy. The Donald almost certainly wants to keep it that way.

We know that the Trump family has embraced the use of shell companies. Michael Cohen used such a shell company to pay off Stormy Daniels. Media outlets have recently reported that Jared Kushner created a shell company that allowed Trump to secretly spend more than $600 million in campaign funds. New York prosecutors have been investigating a number of other money-laundering accusations–many including Deutsche Bank, where officers managing his accounts recently resigned.

Not only would the Corporate Transparency Act make shell company shenanigans illegal going forward, its provisions would apply to existing entities. As Richardson writes,

Congress needs to repass the NDAA over Trump’s veto—indeed it is likely that the CTA was included in this measure precisely because the NDAA is must-pass legislation—and both the CTA and the NDAA bill into which is it tucked have bipartisan support. Trump has objected to a number of things in the original bill but has not publicly complained about the CTA in it. It will be interesting to see if Congress repasses this bill in its original form and, if not, what changes it makes.

Follow the money…