February 9, 2024

Whitehouse Welcomes FinCEN Proposed Rule Strengthening Anti-Money Laundering Safeguards in Residential Real Estate Market

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, cheered a proposed rule from the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) that would extend anti-money laundering safeguards to professionals in the U.S.’s residential real estate market.

“While I am still reviewing the proposal and look forward to submitting comments in due course, I applaud FinCEN for proposing a rule that has the potential to prevent kleptocrats and corrupt actors from hiding their illicit gains in the $60 trillion U.S. real estate market.  We need to plug holes through which illicit cash flows, and better protect the U.S. financial system.  Real estate money laundering aids and abets our adversaries by providing sanctuary for their stolen wealth, and allowing residential property to be purchased just to stash corrupt foreign cash drives up the price of real estate and pushes American families out of their communities.  When these properties stand empty it harms local businesses,” said Whitehouse.  “Next, I urge FinCEN to also crack down on laundered money flowing through the commercial real estate market.”

Whitehouse has repeatedly written to FinCEN urging the agency to increase transparency in U.S. real estate transactions.  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.

Whitehouse has long led the charge to strengthen America’s hand against international corruption and kleptocracy.  He is the Chair of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, a member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (or the Helsinki Commission), and a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

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 FinCEN to strengthen rules implementing the law. 

Whitehouse pushed successfully to include the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act in the FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that President Joe Biden signed in late December 2023.  The historic legislation protects American businesses and U.S. national security interests by criminalizing the demand-side of foreign bribery.  Advocates 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.”

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.

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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921

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