A Presumption of Guilt

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget earlier this week accepted for final review a rule that would force banks to identify the owners of companies behind shadowy financial transactions, such as the firms revealed in the Panama Papers scandal or the ones used to buy real estate.  It would close a loophole that critics say allows criminal money into the US financial system.

Never mind that the vast majority of the Panama Papers’ shell companies are entirely legitimate.  Never mind that, in a free country, there has to be probable cause driven by a presumption of innocence to go looking for “criminal money,” not just a government man’s idle suspicion, or a dislike for a person or an entity, or a liking for fishing expeditions.

Of course Government must be above such petty concerns.

A spokesman for FinCEN [Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the originator of this rule] said the agency couldn’t provide specifics on the contents of any final rule, nor could he predict the timing for publishing a final rule.  He declined to comment further.

Of course not.  And of course.

This also represents another instance of this Democratic administration’s post-America attitude.

The International Monetary Fund weighed in as well, criticizing the US in July 2015 for failing to move quickly enough on identifying beneficial owners, saying the rule, as proposed, was too weak.

“There were no requirements for [financial institutions] to look beyond a customer to establish the identity of the beneficial owners in all cases,” the IMF said at the time.

Nor need there be, absent a court’s order based on probable cause, but hey—it’s an extranational institution that’s objecting.  That matters.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *