Biden unveils anti-corruption strategy ahead of democracy summit

President Biden announced an anti-corruption strategy Monday that targets cash transactions for real estate that might be used to hide ill-gotten wealth and calls on hedge funds to watch out for money laundering.

The administration estimated that $2.3 billion was laundered through the U.S. real estate market from 2015 to 2020.

“The U.S. real estate market has become a significant destination for the laundered proceeds of illicit activity, including corruption,” the White House said in a 38-page strategy that follows Mr. Biden’s June order to draft ideas. “We will make it harder to hide the proceeds of ill-gotten wealth in opaque corporate structures, reduce the ability of individuals involved in corrupt acts to launder funds through anonymous purchases of U.S. real estate, and bolster asset recovery and seizure activities.”

Mr. Biden’s strategy calls for regulations that will detect corruption actors “hiding behind opaque corporate structures,” elevate diplomatic efforts to protect whistleblowers and investigative journalists who expose corruption abroad and identify stolen assets in U.S. financial institutions that are linked to foreign government corruption.

The Treasury is tasked with creating a database, or “beneficial ownership registry,” that helps law enforcement track the true owners of companies and track corruption schemes.

The president released his strategy after the Pandora Papers, leaked earlier this year, revealed how wealthy persons and government officials used offshore companies, secret bank accounts to move money around to avoid taxes or criminal detections.

Mr. Biden is hosting a virtual Summit for Democracy on Thursday and Friday with over 100 countries. It is designed to promote democracies and sideline autocratic countries.

“Corruption threatens United States national security, economic equity, global anti-poverty and development efforts, and democracy itself,” Mr. Biden said. “But by effectively preventing and countering corruption and demonstrating the advantages of transparent and accountable governance, we can secure a critical advantage for the United States and other democracies.”


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