Cassidy, Wicker cosponsor bipartisan bill to prevent illicit finance through U.S. transactions

U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) on April 7 cosponsored a bipartisan bill that would prevent money laundering, the financing of terrorism, or other forms of illicit finance through U.S. real estate and vehicle transactions, including by Russian oligarchs. 

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

Sen. Cassidy and Sen. Wicker signed on as original cosponsors of the Kleptocrat Liability for Excessive Property Transactions and Ownership (KLEPTO) Act, S. 4075, which is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

“I am pleased to cosponsor the bipartisan KLEPTO Act with my colleagues,” Sen. 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.”

If enacted, S. 4075 would require the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to mandate the disclosure of beneficial ownership information — which is the identity of the real person behind an entity — for all real estate transactions through legal entities, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers’ offices.

Additionally, S. 4075 would require the Federal Aviation Administration to collect beneficial ownership information for all aircraft registered in the United States and require FinCEN to extend anti-money laundering safeguards to the real estate sector, as well as businesses that sell boats, planes, and automobiles, the summary said.

S. 4075 also would 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 program for testing such a program, among other provisions.