Cracking down on big banks that enable trafficking


(Last) week, we announced a historic, bipartisan overhaul of anti-money laundering laws that we helped secure in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act, known as NDAA.

As the top Democrat on the Senate Banking and Housing Committee, this is something we’ve been working on for years with members of both parties.

We know criminals abuse the U.S. financial system to launder money from drug trafficking, organized crime, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, weapons sales, and human trafficking. And much of this dirty money is then laundered through anonymous shell corporations.

The bipartisan Anti-Money Laundering Act and the Corporate Transparency Act will update and reform the tools we have to crack down on these shell companies and on big banks that enable criminals.

Money laundering is not a victimless crime. The Sinaloa cartel actors and fentanyl traffickers who have destroyed thousands of Ohio families use money laundering to get their drug trade money in and out of the country. Human traffickers who prey on runaways in truck stops along major interstate highways in Ohio and across the country use the financial system to launder their profits.

I’ve heard from Ohio law enforcement that they need new, modern tools to stop these criminals and root out these companies. We know that criminals are constantly adjusting their tactics to get around our current laws. This bill will help us get ahead of them – and stay ahead of them.

These reforms will finally require comprehensive reporting by U.S. companies of their actual owners. No more hiding these abuses in anonymous shell companies. We’re also cracking down on big banks that look the other way or actively aid money laundering. If you’re helping drug traders hide their illegal fentanyl profits, you deserve more than a slap on the wrist.

These bills are just some of the important wins for Ohio we were able to secure in NDAA – along with investment for our military installations, and finally expanding the list of medical conditions for veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

NDAA is a critical, bipartisan package that passes every year, and is vital to our national security and to our state’s economy. I hope the president will sign it into law, so we can get law enforcement the tools they need.


By U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown

Democrat Sherrod Brown represents Ohio in the U.S. Senate.

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