Note: This op-ed originally appeared in the Morning Consult and was written by John Prendergast, Co-Founder of The Sentry.
The headlines around the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 have focused on components beyond the core subject of military spending, including special legal protections for tech companies like Facebook and the removal of Confederate leaders’ names from some bases. But below hot-button issues like these was the inclusion of landmark anti-money laundering reform representing not only the United States’ biggest anti-corruption push in years, but also a massive boost for human rights efforts around the world.
Key provisions in this year’s NDAA tackle a tool that isn’t often linked to human rights and conflict: anonymous shell companies. These companies – which remain perfectly legal, and which are often easier to establish than a library card – are churned out in the United States at a greater clip than anywhere else. Because of their anonymity, criminal networks have flocked to the United States to use them to launder gobsmacking amounts of money, effectively assured that investigators can’t track them or their finances.
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