Senators formally introduce bipartisan AML reform bill

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WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of eight senators on Thursday formally introduced a bill to reform anti-money laundering laws that bankers and credit unions have argued are outdated.

The bill, which was initially floated as draft legislation in June, would require companies to disclose their true owners at the time of incorporation. The bill was initially supported by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Doug Jones, D-Ala., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and now has four additional co-sponsors: Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., John Kennedy, R-La., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

The introduction of the Illicit Cash Act in the Senate comes after the House Financial Services Committee advanced a similar measure, known as the Corporate Transparency Act, out of committee in June. Both bills would require companies to report their true owners to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the point of incorporation.

The industry has long pushed for Congress to shift the onus for reporting beneficial ownership information away from the financial institutions, arguing that it is too costly, though some Republicans and small businesses have raised concerns that the legislation would be overly burdensome.

Supporters of the legislation sought to alleviate small business concerns over burdensome new requirements at a hearing in June, describing some of the rhetoric as "over-the-top."

Bankers have also hoped for Congress to raise the thresholds for submitting Suspicious Activity Reports and Currency Transaction Reports, despite pushback from law enforcement. But the legislation introduced Thursday simply directs Treasury to review the thresholds and determine if they need to be updated.

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