January 9, 2024

Whitehouse-Authored Laws Strengthen Rule of Law, Counter Kleptocracy and International Corruption

In the past month, Whitehouse passed the historic Foreign Extortion Prevention Act and his landmark anti-money laundering law went into effect. Whitehouse has long led the charge to strengthen America’s hand against international corruption and kleptocracy.

Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chairman of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control and a member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, today highlighted a series of legislative accomplishments to combat international corruption, criminality, and kleptocracy. 

“America is engaged in a clash of civilizations, pitting democracy, the rule of law, and the free market against authoritarianism, international corruption, and kleptocracy,” said Whitehouse.  “We are making progress defending democracy and shining the bright light of transparency on the corruption and criminality abroad that affects America.”

“Congress passed my bill criminalizing bribery demands by foreign officials – which has been called ‘the most consequential anti-foreign-bribery law passed in almost 50 years’ – and we’re starting off 2024 with my law cracking down on anonymous flows of dirty money through shell companies going into effect,” added Whitehouse.  “The bipartisan work we’ve accomplished over the last year is taking root, and I look forwarding to forging new tools to fight kleptocracy and corruption in the year ahead.”

Whitehouse pushed successfully to include the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act in the FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that President Joe Biden signed last month.  The historic legislation protects American businesses and U.S. national security interests by criminalizing the demand-side of foreign bribery.  Previously, U.S. law only criminalized the giving or offering of a bribe abroad.  Advocates have hailed the law as “the most consequential anti-foreign-bribery law passed in almost 50 years,” “the most important expansion of our country’s bribery and foreign anti-corruption laws in decades,” and “a critical tool to push back against China and other autocratic regimes that have weaponized corruption to entrench favorable political regimes.”

The Senator led the efforts in Congress to pass the most important anti-money laundering law in two decades, the Corporate Transparency Act, and the broader Anti-Money Laundering Act.  Both laws clamp down on criminals and foreign enemies hiding assets from U.S. law enforcement, national security officials, and tax authorities.  The Corporate Transparency Act became effective at the start of the new year after Whitehouse successfully urged the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to strengthen rules implementing the law. 

Since 2021, Whitehouse has led the bipartisan appropriations effort to increase funding for FinCEN and its anti-money laundering operations, overseeing substantial increases to the agency each year. FinCEN is also in charge of cracking down on terrorist and cartel financing and other financial crimes around the globe.

In late 2022, the Senator passed bipartisan legislation to ensure Russian President Vladimir Putin and his corrupt oligarchs pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine.  In 2022, Whitehouse secured $67 million in the Ukraine supplemental appropriations bill for the Department of Justice’s KleptoCapture program—an interagency law enforcement task force to enforce sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed on Russia.

As Chairman of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control, Whitehouse has held bipartisan hearings to examine: the role of the federal government in attacking the financial networks of cartelscorruption associated with the illicit drug trade; the techniques that drug cartels use to procure and finance precursor chemicals that are used to manufacture illicit synthetic drugs; and how drug cartels have adapted their production, trafficking, and finance schemes for the 21st Century.   Under his chairmanship, the Caucus released a bipartisan report entitled: “Strengthening U.S. Efforts to Attack the Financial Networks of Cartels.”  The report offers recommendations for Congress and the Biden administration to reduce the supply of illicit drugs by closing loopholes in the U.S. anti-money laundering framework that enable narcotics traffickers to obscure and access their illicit proceeds.

Whitehouse will continue leading Congress in the fight against corruption and kleptocracy in the year ahead.  His agenda for 2024 includes championing legislation to disrupt professional enablers of corruption, improving transparency in the real estate and financial markets, and aligning federal efforts to combat transnational criminal organizations. 

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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921

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