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A bipartisan group of Senate Judiciary Committee members today introduced legislation that modernizes and strengthens criminal laws against money laundering – a critical source of funding for terrorist organizations, drug cartels and other organized crime syndicates. The Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2019 updates criminal money laundering and counterfeiting statutes, and promotes transparency in the U.S. financial system. It was introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and cosponsored by Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
“Terrorist organizations, drug cartels and other criminals actively seek to upend our American way of life, and often turn a profit off of the pain and suffering they cause. Targeting the illicit flow of money is critical to disrupting criminal organizations and reducing incentives this behavior. This bill hits criminals in their pocketbooks by updating the money laundering laws for the 21st Century,” Grassley said.
“Drug traffickers and terrorists are becoming more and more sophisticated in how they launder money and finance their crimes. This bill gives law enforcement the tools it needs to combat these threats,” Feinstein said.
“Technology and globalization have created new ways for criminals, autocrats and terrorist organizations to launder ill-gotten gains across the global financial system. Our bipartisan legislation will equip American law enforcement with modern tools to crack down on money laundering and counterfeiting. America should never be a repository for the corrupt proceeds of foreign malefactors,” Whitehouse said.
“Illicit finance enables terrorists, criminals, and kleptocrats to break laws, threaten lives, and undermine democracies. It’s critical that we take additional steps both at home and abroad to combat terrorist organizations, drug cartels, and criminals working to fund illegal activity. This legislation will update criminal money laundering and counterfeiting statutes to ensure that our laws can stay ahead of those working to undermine our safety and security,” Klobuchar said.
Money laundering is a common practice used by terrorist organizations, transnational drug cartels, and other criminals to disguise profits from or financing for illicit activity. While calculating the exact scale of worldwide money laundering is impossible, estimates suggest the annual sum to be in the trillions of dollars. Perpetrators use a variety of methods to conceal and move funds across borders and through the global financial system in an effort to evade law enforcement. These techniques include longstanding unofficial money transferring systems, such as hawalas, and more modern tools, like digital currencies.
The Senators’ legislation modernizes criminal money laundering laws, updates counterfeiting statutes to prohibit state of the art counterfeiting methods, enhances tools to crack down on smugglers and tax cheats and promotes transparency in the U.S. financial system. The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on beneficial ownership and reforms to combat money laundering on Wednesday.