April 13, 2024

Attorney General asking Feds for easier access to corporate transparency information


Attorney General asking Feds for easier access to corporate transparency information

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is leading a national effort to ensure that state, local and tribal entities have appropriate and timely access to corporate ownership information that’s crucial to fighting corruption, organized crime, white-collar crime and terrorism.

“We’re all on the same team,” Yost said. “The federal government shouldn’t throw law enforcement a curveball when ‘bad actors’ never stop playing hardball.”  

In a letter sent yesterday to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury, Yost and 41 other attorneys general outlined the need for nonfederal agencies to be able to access information without unnecessary and burdensome requirements.

The creation of a national database is authorized under the Corporate Transparency Act, passed in 2021 to require certain companies to disclose their actual, or “beneficial,” owners to FinCEN.

The letter says that the bureau’s recently proposed requirements for database access would impede investigations taking place at the state, local and tribal level.

The Corporate Transparency Act itself requires state, local and tribal only to obtain a court order authorizing access to the database. The proposed regulations, however, would not only require the court order but also subject the order to FinCEN review and approval, and require a separate written justification – an onerous process that’s inconsistent with Congress’ decision to create the database to provide speedy access to information that can benefit investigations.

“We look forward to working with FinCEN on the implementation of this database to ensure that we and other entities can use it as Congress intended: as a highly useful tool to help us efficiently access important beneficial ownership data to serve and protect the public,” the letter states.

In addition to requesting that all law enforcement entities receive unobstructed access to the database, the letter advocated for several amendments to the proposed regulations, including one to make it clear that individuals who receive database information during a legal case are subject to the same non-disclosure laws as those who receive the information directly from FinCEN. The amendment would remove the burden of notification from prosecutors and other government attorneys.

Joining Yost on the letter were the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.