Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) participated in a virtual Senate Banking Committee hearing on the coronavirus economic response with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. In his questioning of Chairman Powell, Warner highlighted the dire economic conditions facing many Americans and pressed the Fed Chairman on whether Congress and the Fed were doing enough to help everyday Americans and prevent an economic depression. 

In his remarks at the beginning of the questioning period, Warner said, “I point to the survey that the Fed put out last week that literally said 40 percent of our fellow Americans who make less than $40,000 – 40 percent of those folks – had their jobs disappear between February and March. We all know as well that 36 million Americans were unemployed. We’re at depression levels of unemployment and I think statistics have always shown that particularly losing your job during a recession could actually incur long-time income losses, up to 19 percent over the coming decade, according to some of the statistics that I’ve seen.”

In response to Sen. Warner’s question about what would happen if Congress fails to take appropriate action, Chairman Powell said, “…There is clear evidence that when you have a situation where people are unemployed for long periods of time, that can permanently weigh on both, their careers and their ability to go back to work, and also weigh on the economy for years – equally so with small and medium-sized businesses, which are the jobs machine of our great economy. If we allow unnecessary, avoidable insolvencies because of, effectively, a natural disaster, that too will destroy the work of many families and generations but it will also weigh on the economy.”

With coronavirus-related job losses now exceeding 36 million, Sen. Warner has been outspoken on the need for Congress to take bold, large-scale action to assist struggling American workers and prevent further economic devastation. Last week, he took to the Senate floor to call on his colleagues to pass legislation that would provide paychecks to laid-off and furloughed workers.

In April, Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Doug Jones (D-AL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) released a proposal to establish a ‘Paycheck Security’ program to cover the wages and benefits of employees of affected businesses and non-profits until the economic and public health crisis is resolved. The Senators’ proposed plan would cover the full payroll and benefits of workers at distressed businesses and non-profits, up to $90,000 per employee, for at least six months. The Paycheck Security plan would also provide funds to cover fixed operating costs such as rent, utilities, and insurance costs to help employers weather the economic crisis. The Senators released an extensive white paper detailing eligibility, verification, and other contours of their proposal, which is available here.

The full exchange between Sen. Warner and Chairman Powell is transcribed below:

Sen. Mark R. Warner: Thank you gentlemen. I want to start, Chairman Powell, with some of the comments I think you’ve made and I want to reinforce them. I think we all realize and understand that losing a job at any point if your lifetime is an enormous challenge. Losing your job in the midst of a recession or depression could be devastating. I point to the survey that the Fed put out last week that literally said 40 percent of our fellow Americans who make less than $40,000 – 40 percent of those folks – had their jobs disappear between February and March. We all know as well that 36 million Americans were unemployed. We’re at depression levels of unemployment and I think statistics have always shown that particularly losing your job during a recession could actually incur long-time income losses, up to 19 percent over the coming decade, according to some of the statistics that I’ve seen. So again, I would like you to take a moment to say – we have to measure overdoing versus underdoing – but with this type of devastation, with this type of pain disproportionately hitting low and moderate-income Americans, can you speak to us of the results and the long-term scars this would present if we don't take aggressive action?

Chairman Jerome Powell: Thank you. I'd be glad to. So, there is clear evidence that when you have a situation where people are unemployed for long periods of time, that can permanently weigh on both, their careers and their ability to go back to work, and also weigh on the economy for years – equally so with small and medium-sized businesses, which are the jobs machine of our great economy. If we allow unnecessary, avoidable insolvencies because of, effectively, a natural disaster, that too will destroy the work of many families and generations but it will also weigh on the economy. So that those are things to keep in mind. As I said earlier, this is the biggest response by Congress ever, and the fastest, and the biggest from us, and still, this is the biggest shock we’ve in living memory and the question looms in the air of ‘is it enough?’

Sen. Warner: And I would argue that historically, whether it's our country or other nations, that governments tend to undershoot during these periods, and we now have 36 million Americans without work and 40 percent of the folks under $40,000 a year losing their work, and this scar could be deep and wide.

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) was joined by several members of the Senate Banking Committee in a pair of letters to financial regulators and trade groups urging our nation’s financial sector to prepare for the likely impacts of the coronavirus and take steps to protect consumers who may suffer financially as a result of a coronavirus outbreak.  

In a letter to leaders of the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHDA), and Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS), the Senators called on the regulators to provide financial institutions with guidance to help assist individuals and communities affected by coronavirus.

“As Americans seek to comply with CDC guidance and protect the well-being of their families, many consumers may face negative shocks to household finances, including challenges with paying their day-to-day bills, credit cards, student loans, small business loans and mortgage payments, among other financial obligations. Accordingly, we urge you to issue guidance to financial institutions encouraging them to work with consumers and businesses affected by the virus and to recognize that they may have difficulty accessing affordable credit and face temporary hardship in making payments on their credit obligations.  This guidance should encourage financial institutions to make efforts to modify terms on existing loans or extend new consumer-friendly access to credit to help consumers and businesses affected by the virus, consistent with safe-and-sound lending practices.  The guidance should also encourage financial institutions to take steps to prevent adverse information from being reported to the credit bureaus and utilized in any manner that harms consumers affected by the virus. We look forward to hearing swiftly from you about what steps you will take to provide regulatory clarity for financial institutions seeking to assist customers during this challenging time,” wrote Sen. Warner along with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ranking Member of the Committee, and Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Doug Jones (D-AL).

A copy of the letter to financial regulators is available here.

 

In a separate letter, Sen. Warner and his colleagues urged trade associations representing the nation’s bankers and credit unions to work with their members to prioritize their employees’ health and safety in the event of coronavirus outbreak, and to offer flexibility and forbearance to customers whose finances may be negatively impacted as a result of following recommended Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance to limit exposure and spread of the virus.

“We encourage your member institutions to commit to ensure that any employees or contractors who follow novel coronavirus-related guidance from public health authorities can count on basic protections like preservation of their employment status and basic financial forbearance,” wrote Sens. Warner, Menendez, Warren, Schatz, Van Hollen, Cortez Masto, Jones and Jack Reed (D-RI).

Added the Senators in the letter, copies of which were sent to the Consumer Bankers Association, Bank Policy Institute, American Bankers Association, Financial Services Forum, Credit Union National Association, National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, and Independent Community Bankers of America, “Further, we urge you to work with your customers to ensure they are not financially penalized as they seek to comply with CDC guidance and protect the safety and wellbeing of their families.  Many of your customers may face shocks to household finances, including challenges with paying their day-to-day bills, credit cards, small business loans and mortgage payments, among other financial obligations.  Accordingly, we urge you to consider waiving overdraft and monthly service fees for affected customers, suspending or modifying student loan, mortgage and business loan payments as necessary, providing affordable, short-term credit, and encouraging customers to contact your institution’s special care line so that you may work with them individually to help them avoid the negative consequences of this unique health emergency.”

A copy of the letter to bankers is available here.

 

In a separate letter, Sen. Warner and Sen. Brown urged the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide servicers with guidance in order to help facilitate access to affordable mortgage credit to affected borrowers, consistent with safety and soundness of the housing finance system. 

“As Americans seek to comply with CDC guidance and protect the well-being of their families, many borrowers may face negative shocks to household finances, including challenges with mortgage payments, among other financial obligations.  Accordingly, we urge you to issue guidance to mortgage servicers in order to help borrowers navigate the broader financial effects of the coronavirus.  This includes authorizing servicers to suspend or reduce a homeowner’s mortgage payments immediately if the servicer believes the homeowner’s financial circumstances are affected by the virus, waiving late fees, and suspending credit bureau reporting, foreclosures and other legal proceedings as necessary, in order to help families cope with the effects of this health emergency,” wrote Sens. Warner and Brown.

A copy of the housing finance letter is available here.

 

Lastly, Sen. Warner also fired off a letter to the nation’s credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, urging them to ensure that consumer credit scores aren’t negatively impacted because of financial shocks related to coronavirus.  

A copy of the letter to the credit reporting bureaus is available here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and John Kennedy (R-LA), members of the Senate Banking Committee, released a statement today, ahead of Supreme Court arguments in Liu v. SEC, a case challenging the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) enforcement powers to seek disgorgement on behalf of defrauded investors:

“Today’s argument in Liu v. SEC highlights the critical importance of affirming the SEC’s ability to protect investors through its disgorgement authority. Disgorgement authority is an essential enforcement tool that deters violations of our securities laws, protects Main Street investors, and helps compensate hard-working Americans who are victims of financial scams. Since the Court’s 2017 decision in Kokesh v. SEC, the SEC has forgone an estimated $1.1 billion in proceeds on behalf of harmed investors – a number that will only grow if the Supreme Court sides with the petitioners in this case – putting more money in the pockets of scammers and fraudsters while leaving ripped-off investors holding the bag. While we strongly believe that the SEC has the legal authority to seek disgorgement in civil actions, uncertainty from this case underscores the importance of congressional action to better protect harmed investors. In the Senate, we have introduced bipartisan legislation that would affirm the SEC’s disgorgement authority and expand its toolkit to increase financial recovery for harmed investors. The House passed similar legislation last year. We urge our colleagues in the Senate to act now by taking up this bipartisan effort,” said the two Senators.

Sens. Warner and Kennedy last year introduced the Securities Fraud Enforcement and Investor Compensation Act, bipartisan legislation that would give the SEC power to seek restitution for Main Street investors harmed by securities fraud. The bill would give the SEC a broader range of tools to seek compensation for investors who’ve lost money to Ponzi schemes and other investment scams. 

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WASHINGTON – Today, in a hearing on the reauthorization of funding for our nation’s surface transportation, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) spoke about the importance of increased federal funding for Interstate 81 (I-81). During the hearing, Sen. Warner highlighted the importance of I-81 to Virginia and to the nation’s economy, as well as the challenges posed by traffic and safety issues on I-81.

“One of the areas in Virginia where we have tremendous transportation challenges is the I-81 corridor…with the amount of traffic, and particularly commerce that flows for the whole East Coast on I-81, and the level of bottlenecks and safety concerns,” said Sen. Warner.

Sen. Warner also questioned the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Vice President for Transportation and Infrastructure, who expressed support for additional federal funding for I-81.

Sen. Warner has been vocal about I-81’s crucial role in commerce along the East Coast, and has long pushed for federal dollars to tackle necessary repairs along the highway, which runs from Tennessee, along the entirety of Virginia’s western border, and north to New York. More than one-third of all trucks that drive through Virginia and approximately half of the Commonwealth’s value of goods are transported along I-81. In the last decade, I-81 has experienced significant traffic growth, with travel expected to continue increasing along the interstate. Increased I-81 traffic causes severe travel delays and puts travelers at risk, including the drivers involved in the more than 2,000 crashes that happen annually along the route. Last year, in letters to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Sen. Warner requested additional funding for vital improvements to Interstate 81 in order to enhance safety and reduce traffic congestion.

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WASHINGTON – Led by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), today Democrats on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee sent a letter to Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mark Calabria and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin with a series of questions regarding the Trump Administration’s plans to return Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to private ownership.  

“The GSEs play a critical role in the U.S. housing market, providing the necessary liquidity and stability that makes the U.S. mortgage market the most dependable market in the world. This year the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a number of hearings on our housing finance system. The message was clear – any reform must strengthen our housing finance system and provide the tools to address the nation’s affordable housing crisis,” wrote the Senators.

In addition to Sen. Warner, the letter was signed by Ranking Member Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI), Robert Menendez (NJ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

Said the Senators, “As members concerned with housing access and affordability, and the continued success of the secondary mortgage market, we request additional, detailed information regarding the Administration’s plans to reform these entities and the analysis that supports these plans. Without additional information, Congress will be unable to fulfill its proper oversight role, or otherwise design policies to protect critical access and affordability to homeownership and rental housing.”

The Senators requested responses to a variety of questions, including the Administration’s timeline for releasing the entities and how proposed changes could impact affordable homeownership:

  • Please explain, in detail, the timeline, or benchmarks, by which the Administration intends to adopt reforms and release the GSEs from conservatorship.  If multiple timelines are being considered, please provide all potential scenarios.
  • Please explain, in detail, any and all administrative reforms that you believe are necessary at the GSEs prior to their release from conservatorship, and how those reforms fulfill the GSEs’ charter obligations.
  • Would you consider releasing the GSEs prior to full implementation of the enumerated reforms?  If so, please provide your reasoning and under what circumstances you would considering doing so.  
  • Please explain, in detail, what reforms or policy changes may be adopted as part of an amendment to the Preferred Stock Purchase Agreement (PSPA).  What, if anything, prevents future modifications to these changes?
  • Do you intend to maintain a line of credit with the Treasury outside of conservatorship through the PSPAs?  Would you maintain the current dollar amount of the line of credit or adjust to some other amount?  What, if anything, prevents removing that line of credit in the future?
  • Please explain, in detail, the legal basis for using a consent agreement to accelerate the release of the GSEs from conservatorship.  Under what conditions does the Administration plan to use the consent agreement to further the release of the GSEs from conservatorship, and what reforms or restrictions would be considered under this agreement?
  • What, if anything, prevents a future modification to the consent agreement?
  • What capital levels do you believe would be necessary for purposes of releasing the GSEs from conservatorship?
  • Would you consider releasing the GSEs from conservatorship before they have built the level of capital you require of them as their regulator?   If so, please explain why you would release them prior to having met their regulatory capital requirements? 
  • How does the Administration plan to raise the level of capital that FHFA deems necessary and on what timeline?  Would the Administration consider releasing the GSEs from conservatorship prior to achieving a threshold capital level, and if so, what level would that be?
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac make valuable contributions to the housing market, in part due to investments made over the past decade. Would the Administration consider reducing the value that the GSEs provide to American taxpayers in order to expedite the release of the GSEs from conservatorship?
  • Would the Administration consider changing the repayment requirements of the existing PSPA? If so, how?
  • Does the Administration plan to reduce the GSEs’ footprint?  If so, what specific product lines and services would see an increase in price or be curtailed or eliminated at the GSEs?  What is the statutory authority for such a plan?  Please provide any models or assessment that FHFA has conducted to analyze the impact of these changes on prospective homeowners, existing homeowners, renters, and the cost and availability of credit across mortgage products. 
  • Do you believe that the GSEs will provide a smaller cross-subsidy in the mortgage market if their role is reduced, as you propose?  If not, how would they be able to provide the same level of cross-subsidy and nationwide access in both the single-family and multifamily markets in a reduced role?  If so, what do you propose to do administratively to ensure that they are still able to provide as much support for low- and moderate-income lending and access to credit among underserved communities?
  • Will the GSEs continue to contribute annually to the Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund throughout any transition to your desired end state?  Under what circumstances would you potentially consider allocations to these trust funds as preventing the GSEs from completing a capital restoration plan?  Do you expect to deem either GSE as “undercapitalized”?
  • Does the Administration intend to undertake a new rulemaking for the Enterprise Housing Goals for mortgages purchased by the GSEs?  Will the scope of that rulemaking exceed the scope of the previous rulemaking, which recalibrated numerical purchase goals but did not alter the fundamental structure of the goals?
  • Will the Administration seek to amend the Duty to Serve rule, or otherwise amend the types of products and services the Enterprises may offer to meet their Duty to Serve requirements?
  • What analysis has the Administration undertaken to understand the impact of any reforms or changes in product offerings or pricing to the profitability of the GSEs?  What analysis has it performed to understand the impact of such changes on housing affordability, g-fees, or potential market disruptions across all segments of borrowers?  What analysis has it done on the impact of such changes on the production of multifamily properties?
  • What analysis has the Administration performed to model specific effects of any reforms or changes in product offerings or pricing on access to mortgage credit for low- and moderate-income homebuyers and renters; first time homebuyers; or borrowers of color? Please explain in detail any assumptions underlying your analysis.  If you have not conducted such an analysis, please explain how you could move forward on any of the proposed provisions without such calculation while also fulfilling the GSEs’ statutory mandates to “provide ongoing assistance to the secondary market for residential mortgages (including activities related to mortgages on housing for low- and moderate-income families involving a reasonable economic return that may be less than the return earned on other activities) by increasing the liquidity of mortgage investments and improving the distribution of investment capital available for residential mortgage financing” and “promote access to mortgage credit throughout the Nation (including central cities, rural areas, and underserved areas).” 
  • Please describe any concerns raised by investors with releasing the GSEs from conservatorship without an indefinite government backstop and any response you might have to those concerns. 
  • Please provide FHFA’s analysis of impacts on mortgage costs and the To-Be-Announced market from releasing the GSEs from conservatorship or any other changes to the GSEs’ current status without a line of credit or other catastrophic backstop.  
  • Will the Administration conduct a fair housing analysis of all proposed policy changes?  If not, why not? Has the Administration already conducted such an analysis of its proposed policy changes?

“As housing finance reform discussions continue we believe that it is critical to maintain a system that provides certainty for borrowers, renters, investors, and lenders; that can be sustained in all economic conditions; and that continues to support working families as they buy and rent homes and build wealth. Any contemplated reforms should be thoughtful and focused on maintaining access to credit for creditworthy home buyers and renters in every community,” noted the Senators.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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WASHINGTON – Senate Banking Committee members, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Doug Jones (D-AL), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), John Kennedy (R-LA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) today introduced bipartisan legislation to improve corporate transparency, strengthen national security, and help law enforcement combat illicit financial activity being carried out by terrorists, drug and human traffickers, and other criminals. 

The Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings (ILLICIT CASH) Act would, for the first time, require shell companies – often used as fronts for criminal activity – to disclose their true owners to the U.S. Department of Treasury. It would also update decades-old anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) policies, by giving Treasury and law enforcement the tools they need to fight criminal networks. This includes improving overall communication between law enforcement, financial institutions, and regulators, and facilitating the adoption of critical 21st century technologies. 

“Transparency is the best weapon we have against the misuse of our financial system by those who would harm the United States and our allies,” said Sen. Warner. “As bad actors use ever more sophisticated techniques, we need to make sure federal agencies have the tools they need to prevent this abuse of our financial system and protect our national security. That starts with making sure we have a full usable record of who actually owns these shell companies.”

“Right now, criminals and terrorists are exploiting our financial system using shell companies that hide their identities. This legislation will allow law enforcement to track ill-gotten gains while at the same time protecting small businesses from unnecessary regulation. I’m proud that we’ve delivered a product that respects the needs of Arkansas small businesses, from startups to steel companies,” said Sen. Cotton.

“It is simply too easy in the United States for criminals to hide behind anonymous shell companies. Our bipartisan bill gives the American law enforcement and national security officials the tools they need to fight back against the criminals that seek to exploit our financial system and fund their illegal activities,” said Sen. Jones.

“Our legislation protects Americans by depriving criminals and terrorists of tools they use to finance illicit activity. Developed through months of hard work and consensus-building, the ILLICIT CASH Act gives the Treasury Department and law enforcement the tools they need to combat illegal financial activity without burdening legitimate businesses. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to advance this important issue – the first serious overhaul of our anti-money laundering system in decades,” said Sen. Rounds.

“It’s still far too easy for rogue regimes, corrupt oligarchs, human traffickers and drug cartels to use American shell companies to launder money through the United States,” said Sen. Menendez. “Our bill gives our national security and law enforcement professionals new tools to make sure our financial system can no longer be a safe haven for illegal actors.”

“Transparency is a powerful tool to use against criminal activity because it makes it impossible to hide.  Criminals know it’s easier to set up a shell company than it is to get a library card in the U.S.  This bill will help dismantle criminal networks by ensuring that we know who truly owns shell companies,” said Sen. Kennedy.

“From money laundering to funding terrorism and sex trafficking, it’s outrageous that in the United States it is still incredibly easy for criminals to set up shell companies to hide their illicit financial activity,” said Sen. Cortez Masto. “I’m proud to cosponsor comprehensive legislation that gives the Treasury Department and law enforcement the modern-day tools they need to track down these criminals, prevent abuse of our financial system and keep Americans safe.” 

According to research from the University of Texas and Brigham Young University, the U.S. remains one of the easiest places in the world to set up an anonymous shell company. A recent report by Global Financial Integrity demonstrates that, in all 50 U.S. states, more information is currently required to obtain a library card than to register a company. Human traffickers, terrorist groups, arms dealers, transnational criminal organizations, kleptocrats, drug cartels, and rogue regimes have all used U.S.-registered shell companies to hide their identities and facilitate illicit activities. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies find it increasingly difficult to investigate these illicit financial networks without access to information about the beneficial ownership of corporate entities involved.

At the same time, U.S. AML-CFT laws have not kept pace with the growing exploitation of the global financial system to facilitate criminal activity. According to a United Nations Report, money laundering activity and illicit cross-border financial flows have generated upwards of $300 billion annually in criminal proceeds. While tracking these growing sums is increasingly difficult, U.S. laws have also failed to adequately address the small dollar financing of global terrorist groups. 

“Our own research and data have shown that the criminals behind trafficking operations use secrecy to hide both their identity and the proceeds of their crimes.  Secrecy allows them to profit with impunity.  By ending the ability of traffickers and others to use anonymous companies, the ILLICIT CASH Act will, for the first time, provide critical information to the police and prosecutors with whom we work to follow the money.  We applaud the bill sponsors for working across party lines to take these effective steps to address the deep, lasting and unimaginable harms caused by human trafficking,” said Bradley Myles, CEO, Polaris.

“As end users of evidence collected throughout the investigative process, it is imperative that prosecutors have as much information as possible in order to determine the best course of action for prosecuting an individual or entity that has committed a crime. Beneficial ownership data collection is vital to this effort, and law enforcement and prosecutors must have lawful access to that information. NDAA is excited to support the Illicit Cash Act and looks forward to working with Senators Warner, Jones, Cotton, Rounds, Kennedy, Menendez, Cortez Masto & Moran in moving this legislation through Congress,” said Nelson Bunn, Executive Director, National District Attorneys Association.

“We appreciate Senators Warner, Cotton, Jones, Rounds, Menendez, Kennedy, Cortez Masto and Moran’s hard work in building additional bipartisan support and pushing this legislation forward. Their legislation would both modernize our antiquated AML regime and help law enforcement and national security officials by closing the anonymous shell company loophole exploited by human traffickers, drug smugglers, and terrorists,” said Greg Baer, President and CEO, Bank Policy Institute.

“The ease with which bad actors can hide illicit cash in the U.S. undermines our national security, props up rogue leaders and renegade regimes, and destroys lives — both here and abroad. The ILLICIT CASH Act is a direct and effective response to the dangers and devastation that result from the lack of safeguards to protect our financial system from abuse,” said Gary Kalman, Executive Director, Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition.

“When we are able to expose the link between shell companies and drug trafficking, corruption, organized crime and terrorist finance, law enforcement will be able to bring these criminals to justice and make our citizens and our nation safer. This legislation will help law enforcement by removing the mask that hides these illicit actors,” said Pat Yoes, President, Fraternal Order of Police.

Given the critical importance of cracking down on criminal shell companies and the need to combat money laundering and terrorism, the ILLICIT CASH Act envisions a more transparent corporate ownership system and an updated, effective and efficient AML-CFT regime designed for the 21st century. Specifically, this legislation would:

  • Establish federal reporting requirements mandating that all beneficial ownership information be maintained in a comprehensive federal database, with strict privacy protections, accessible by federal and local law enforcement.
  • Help recruit and retain top talent at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) by putting employees on a pay scale comparable to that of federal financial regulators.
  • Create a hub of financial expert investigators at FinCEN to investigate potential AML-CFT activity in collaboration with federal government agencies.
  • Facilitate communications between the Treasury and financial institutions by establishing a Treasury financial institution liaison to seek and receive comments regarding AML-CFT rules, regulations, and examinations.
  • Require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide the Treasury Department with metrics on the usefulness of AML-CFT data from financial institutions for law enforcement purposes, as well as data on the past and current trends identified by DOJ in the AML-CFT landscape.
  • Require law enforcement to coordinate with financial regulators to provide periodic feedback to financial institutions on their suspicious activity reports.
  • Prioritize the protection of personally identifying information while establishing a clear path for financial institutions to share AML-CFT information for the purposes of identifying suspicious activity.
  • Prevent foreign banks from obstructing money laundering or terrorist financing investigations by requiring these banks to produce records in a manner that establishes their authenticity and reliability for evidentiary purposes, and compelling them to comply with subpoenas. This legislation would also authorize contempt sanctions for banks that fail to comply and increase penalties on repeat BSA violators. 
  • Ensure the inclusion of current and future payment systems in the AML-CFT regime by updating the definition of “coins and currency” to include digital currency.

A section-by-section analysis of this bill is available here. A one-pager is available here. The full text of the bill is available here.  

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WASHINGTON – Senate Banking Committee members U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Mike Rounds (R-SD) today unveiled draft bipartisan legislation to improve corporate transparency, strengthen national security, and help law enforcement combat illicit financial activity being carried out by terrorists, drug and human traffickers, and other criminals. 

The Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings (ILLICIT CASH) Act would, for the first time, require shell companies – often used as fronts for criminal activity – to disclose their true owners to the U.S. Department of Treasury. It would also update decades-old anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) policies, by giving Treasury and law enforcement the tools they need to fight criminal networks. This includes improving overall communication between law enforcement, financial institutions, and regulators, and facilitating the adoption of critical 21st century technologies. 

“We must be vigilant and ensure that our financial system is not being misused to fund individuals and groups who intend harm to the United States and our allies,” said Sen. Warner. “This legislation will empower the Treasury Department and other appropriate agencies to better protect our financial system from such abuse, and will ensure that we are using all the tools at our disposal to protect our national security.”

“The United States ought to make it as difficult as possible for criminals and terrorists to finance their evil deeds. Our draft bill makes it easier for law enforcement to track ill-gotten gains without burdening legitimate businesses,” Sen. Cotton said.

“As a former U.S. Attorney, I am all too familiar with criminals hiding behind shell corporations to enable their illegal behavior. At the same time, our anti-money laundering laws have not kept pace with the increasingly sophisticated means by which criminals and terrorist organizations use our financial system to move their money around the world. This bipartisan legislation addresses both challenges and gives law enforcement the tools they need to protect Americans and prosecute criminals,” said Sen. Jones.

"Fighting crime and depriving terrorists of the tools they use to engage in illicit activity within our financial system is vital to protecting Americans,” said Sen. Rounds. “Our legislation seeks to protect our financial system from bad actors by streamlining our government's anti-money laundering system and simultaneously protecting small businesses from undue compliance burdens. I'm proud to partner with my colleagues on this important legislation and look forward to advancing it in the Senate.”

According to research from the University of Texas and Brigham Young University, the U.S. remains one of the easiest places in the world to set up an anonymous shell company. A recent report by Global Financial Integrity demonstrates that, in all 50 U.S. states, more information is currently required to obtain a library card than to register a company. Human traffickers, terrorist groups, arms dealers, transnational criminal organizations, kleptocrats, drug cartels, and rogue regimes have all used U.S.-registered shell companies to hide their identities and facilitate illicit activities. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies find it increasingly difficult to investigate these illicit financial networks without access to information about the beneficial ownership of corporate entities involved.

At the same time, U.S. AML-CFT laws have not kept pace with the growing exploitation of the global financial system to facilitate criminal activity.  According to a United Nations Report, money laundering activity and illicit cross-border financial flows have generated upwards of $300 billion annually in criminal proceeds. While tracking these growing sums is increasingly difficult, U.S. laws have also failed to adequately address the small dollar financing of global terrorist groups. 

Given the critical importance of cracking down on criminal shell companies and the need to combat money laundering and terrorism, the ILLICIT CASH Act envisions a more transparent corporate ownership system and an updated, effective and efficient AML-CFT regime designed for the 21st century. Specifically, this legislation would:

  • Establish federal reporting requirements mandating that all beneficial ownership information be maintained in a comprehensive federal database, accessible by federal and local law enforcement.
  • Help recruit and retain top talent at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) by putting employees on a pay scale comparable to that of federal financial regulators.
  • Create a hub of financial expert investigators at FinCEN to investigate potential AML-CFT activity in collaboration with federal government agencies.
  • Create a team of FinCEN technology experts to further the development of new and essential technologies that can assist financial institutions and the federal government in their efforts to combat money laundering.
  • Facilitate communications between the Treasury and financial institutions by establishing a Treasury financial institution liaison to seek and receive comments regarding AML-CFT rules, regulations, and examinations.
  • Require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide the Treasury Department with metrics on the usefulness of AML-CFT data from financial institutions for law enforcement purposes, as well as data on the past and current trends identified by DOJ in the AML-CFT landscape.
  • Require law enforcement to coordinate with financial regulators to provide periodic feedback to financial institutions on their suspicious activity reports.
  • Prioritize the protection of personally identifying information while establishing a clear path for financial institutions to share AML-CFT information for the purposes of identifying suspicious activity.
  • Prevent foreign banks from obstructing money laundering or terrorist financing investigations by requiring these banks to produce records in a manner that establishes their authenticity and reliability for evidentiary purposes, and compelling them to comply with subpoenas. This legislation would also authorize contempt sanctions for banks that fail to comply.
  • Ensure the inclusion of current and future payment systems in the AML-CFT regime by updating the definition of “coins and currency” to include digital currency.

Sens. Warner, Cotton, Jones, and Rounds are now seeking input from stakeholders regarding their draft legislation. Submissions can be made to Sen. Warner’s office at AML-BSAReform@warner.senate.gov by July 19, 2019.

For an in-depth look at this bill, click here. The full text of the bill is available here.  

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the below statement on Randal Quarles, President Trump’s nominee to be the Federal Reserve's Vice Chairman for Supervision:

“While Mr. Quarles and I do not agree on every issue—such as his support for a rigid monetary policy rule that would have hamstrung the Fed’s response to the financial crisis—I believe he is well qualified to be the top regulator at the Fed.  I expect his experience in public service and the private sector will aid him in the development of financial regulatory policy.  In my role on the Senate Banking Committee, I look forward to working with him to ensure we have a financial regulatory system that promotes growth and stability, and maintains the tools included in Dodd Frank to wind down large financial institutions.  As I’ve done with Mr. Quarles, I will be carefully reviewing the credentials and views of any future Fed nominees.  The President should seek candidates who can gain bipartisan support.”

Banking Committee Democrats Press Wells Fargo for Answers on Phony Accounts Scandal

Sen. Warner and colleagues request information on company’s ongoing investigation and responses to questions Wells Fargo’s management continues to dodge

Dec 22 2016

Democrats on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee called on Wells Fargo’s board of directors to respond to questions that the bank’s management has failed to answer following a scandal over its fraudulent sales practices.
The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs today passed S. 1619, the Livable Communities Act, which included two important amendments proposed by Senator Warner. The bill represents a coordinated effort of the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to better plan for future community growth while encouraging affordable housing, more accessible transit options and reduced energy use.

Warner discusses new jobs initiative with Virginia small business owners, bankers

~Highlights efforts to boost access to capital so they can hire and grow~

Jun 18 2010

RICHMOND – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met today with Virginia small business owners and lenders to discuss his specific efforts to help small businesses grow and put more Virginians back to work. Since last fall, Senator Warner has worked closely with the White House to design new tools to help small businesses access needed capital to help strengthen the economic recovery.

Warner, Kaufman Ask Dodd to Direct SEC, CFTC to Report on May 6 Market Slide

Senate should underline importance of needed elements in agencies’ review

May 07 2010

WASHINGTON, DC — Senators Ted Kaufman (D-DE) and Mark Warner (D-VA) on Friday proposed an addition to the Senate’s Wall Street reform bill that would direct the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to report to Congress on several key issues surrounding the May 6, 2010 market meltdown, which sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbling dramatically in minutes. High-frequency-trading algorithms have been the initial focus of questions concerning the collapse.

Bipartisan Senate Approval for Sen. Warner's Framework for Ending Taxpayer Bailouts of Wall Street Firms

~ 93-to-5 vote in support of ending bailouts, ‘too big to fail’ ~

May 05 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate voted 93-5 today to adopt provisions of the Wall Street reform bill that were crafted by U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) in partnership with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) for the orderly liquidation of financial firms deemed “too big to fail,” and to prevent any future taxpayer-funded bailouts of large, interconnected firms that get into financial trouble.
WASHINGTON – Legislation introduced in June by U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) got a major boost today with a Congressional Oversight Panel report recommending that the U.S. Treasury Department “consider placing its GM and Chrysler shares in an independent trust that would be insulated from political pressure and government interference.”

Warner, Corker Bill Gives FDIC Authority to Wind-Down Bank Hold Companies

~Bipartisan bill is an interim step to address broader regulatory reform~

Jul 30 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner of Virginia joined Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee today in introducing legislation giving the FDIC authority to resolve, or wind down, bank holding companies, an important interim step toward addressing broader regulatory reform. The senators, both members of the Senate Banking Committee, say the FDIC needs this additional authority to fill a glaring regulatory gap that has come to light over the last 18 months.

Warner, Corker Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Maximize Taxpayer Returns of TARP Investments

~ Bill creates private market trust for TARP investments, sets end-date for gov’t ownership ~

Jun 22 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) spoke on the Senate floor today about bipartisan legislation he has introduced with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) that will maximize returns of taxpayer investments into TARP(Troubled Asset Relief Program)assisted institutions. The bill provides for a responsible exitstrategy from government ownership of TARP-recipient companies, such as AIG, Citigroup, and General Motors.

Warner, Martinez and Brown Introduce TARP Transparency Act

Requires regulators to collect, disclose more data from TARP recipients

Apr 28 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced legislation today to increase transparency in the use of the $700 billion appropriated through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to banks and other financial companies.