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Opening Statements

Chairman Williams: “Under the Microscope: Examining FinCEN’s Implementation of the Corporate Transparency Act”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Small Business is holding a full committee hearing titled “Under the Microscope: Examining FinCEN’s Implementation of the Corporate Transparency Act.”

Chairman Williams’ prepared opening statement delivered by Rep. Meuser:

Good morning, and welcome to today’s hearing which will focus on the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s implementation of the Corporate Transparency Act.

I’d like to start off by thanking our witnesses for joining us today. Your attendance is greatly appreciated, and we value your input and expertise on these issues.

Congress passed the Corporate Transparency Act to detect illegal funds moving through the financial system. If you can better detect and prevent illicit funds from entering the financial system, it should reduce overall criminal behavior.

For example, FinCEN’s Beneficial Ownership Rule is meant to show who is profiting off of a business activity and reduce the number of shell companies used by criminals. This requires some businesses with less than 20 employees to disclose ownership information of anyone with a 25 percent stake in the company. This information is saved to a database for law enforcement and financial institutions to help detect criminals that had previously been hidden by LLCs or other companies.

However, FinCEN’s implementation of this law and the corresponding regulations have been overly broad, leading to unnecessary regulatory burdens on our nation’s job creators. These concerns coming from the small business community have overshadowed many of the purported benefits of the Corporate Transparency Act.

Nearly half of small business owners said they had no idea what the Corporate Transparency Act is and have never heard of the government agency FinCEN. Suddenly, they are getting something in the mail asking for personal information with the threat of massive fines if they don’t comply. When some businesses have received these notices, they have turned to their lawyers or accountants for help to fulfill these requirements. However, we are hearing that the rules are written in a way that makes these trained professionals hesitant or unwilling to take on this task. This is a telltale sign that something has gone wrong in implementing this law.

In addition to confusing regulations coming out of FinCEN, serious privacy concerns have been raised about this data collection. In 2021 an employee at FinCEN leaked the financial information of President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to smear their political rival. The employee that leaked the information rightfully received a 6-month prison sentence. However, with the changes in the Corporate Transparency Act, many more people have access to this type of financial information. Business owners are rightfully concerned that their data could be leaked, stolen, or used against them.

The Biden Administration’s implementation of this law fails to strike the right balance in detecting illicit activities in our financial system and burdening all small businesses with expensive new mandates. I hope this hearing will shed some light on the many challenges that our nation’s job creators are facing and will begin the work of correcting some of these issues coming out of FinCEN.

I’d like to once again thank our witnesses for being here with us today. I’m very much looking forward to our conversation.

With that, I will yield to our distinguished Ranking Member from New York, Ms. Velasquez.