April 8, 2022

Cassidy, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Crack Down on Russian Oligarchs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the Kleptocrat Liability for Excessive Property Transactions and Ownership (KLEPTO) Act, which gives law enforcement crucial information that helps them track down Russian oligarchs’ luxury assets in the U.S. financial system.

“Putin and his cronies move millions of dollars to buy yachts and fund Putin’s war machine while the Russian people suffer.  It’s time the U.S. takes action and stops oligarchs from abusing our financial system for their own benefit,” said Dr. Cassidy.

“Putin and his corrupt oligarchs pillage their own people, then use all manner of financial schemes to stash that stolen money in high-end real estate, mega-yachts, and private jets,” said Whitehouse.  “Step one in neutralizing those oligarchs and their schemes is pinpointing their crooked assets.  This bipartisan legislation will shine the light of transparency on these shady transactions and help to crack down on kleptocracy and international corruption.

“Right now in this country, sanctioned Russian oligarchs, criminals, and terrorists are able to stash their money in the shadows by buying and selling mansions, yachts, and private jets,” said Warren.  “It’s time we close these loopholes and give U.S. officials the tools they need to track down the hidden wealth of these corrupt actors and fully enforce sanctions.”

“I am pleased to cosponsor the bipartisan KLEPTO Act with my colleagues,” Wicker said. “Russian oligarchs and their western enablers are fueling the horrific destruction and killing in Ukraine.  We need to do everything in our power to seize the luxury assets they have purchased with blood money. Ukraine must win this war and Putin’s aggression and war crimes must be severely punished.”

The bill would:

  • Require the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to mandate disclosure of beneficial ownership information (the identity of the real person behind an entity) for all real estate transactions through legal entities;
  • Require the Federal Aviation Administration to collect beneficial ownership information for all aircraft registered in the U.S.;
  • Require FinCEN to extend anti-money laundering safeguards to the real estate sector;
  • Require FinCEN to extend anti-money laundering safeguards to businesses that sell boats, planes, and automobiles;
  • Clarify that any foreign entity that buys or holds real estate in the U.S. should be considered a “reporting company” under the Corporate Transparency Act;
  • Require the Treasury Department to report on how digital ledger technology could be used to create a tamper-proof, permanent record of real estate transfers; and
  • Mandate a subsequent Treasury pilot testing such a program.