The whistleblowers who brought us The Paradise Papers and The Panama Papers risked their freedom and even their lives (Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated for reporting on the stories). Years later, financial secrecy havens are still on the rise, and it's easy to think that all that blood and treasure thrown at ending money laundering and corruption was wasted.
But real change is accretive. The shifts in public opinion engendered by the big financial leaks were important, but not enough…Not yet. Still, as new stories about oligarchs and kleptocrats working with enablers in "civilized countries" to spirit out their cash, and that cash going to work to render our cities unlivable by transforming housing stock into "safe deposit boxes in the sky," or to undermine our democracies by creating vast dark-money pools used to influence elections and politics, the big leaks keep gaining salience in the public imagination, becoming more important over time (not less).
Elizabeth Warren has just introduced "a plan to fight global financial corruption" that is characteristically comprehensive it its scope:
* Require disclosure of beneficial owners of assets, piercing shell companies to get at the natural humans who benefit from them.
* Collect data on cross-border financial flows by mandating fine-grained reporting by financial institutions.
* Stiffen anti-bribery law, which currently punishes US companies that offer bribes, by banning US financial institutions from handling, accepting, or passing on funds derived from bribery, whether or not the briber or the bribee have a US nexus.
* Direct the US diplomatic corps to prioritize anti-corruption efforts abroad.
* Make information sharing to root out financial corruption a feature of US foreign policy and trade deals.
* Require transparency in real estate transactions, partly through the use of "Geographic Targeting Orders" through which "financial institutions [must] report to the Treasury on any transaction above a specified dollar amount within a specified geographic area."
* Ban US subsidiaries of foreign companies and US trade associations with substantial foreign funding from making campaign contributions.
* Require disclosure of the identities of large-money contributors to "dark money" organizations participating in the US political process.
* Ban US banks from hiring government officials for at least four years after they leave government service.
* Subject those who submit falsified research to regulatory proceedings to prosecutions.
* Prohibit "enabling" activities from lawyers, accountants and other financial professionals who provide financial secrecy services and impose "still penalties" for institutions and individuals who violate the rules.
* Develop a list of "minimum required anti-corruption laws, policies, and standard" with the Financial Action Task Force and publish scorecards of which governments meet those standards.
* Provide legislative advice to US trading partners to enact these policies.
* Sanction ("investigating, naming, and shaming corrupt individuals and their criminal rings") "corrupt kleptocrats"
I am a donor to both Elizabeth Warren's and Bernie Sanders' campaign.
My Plan to Fight Global Financial Corruption [Elizabeth Warren/Medium]