Tom Malinowski
Tom Malinowski

Concerned that PR firms may be playing a role in covering up the money laundering activities of dictators, criminals, terrorists and 'kleptocrats,' New Jersey Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski has written a bill designed to stop the enablers of international corruption.

Introduced in the aftermath of the Pandora Papers, which revealed how the US is a key destination for hidden wealth, the Establishing New Authorities for Business Laundering and Enabling Risk to Security (Enablers) Act calls for stronger due diligence of US-based middlemen.

It would expand the scope of the Bank Secrecy Act, which requires banks to report suspicious transactions, to cover "a person engaged in the business of public relations, marketing, communications or other similar services in such a manner as to provide another person anonymity or deniability."

The bill also requires lawyers, investment advisors, art/antique/collectibles/luxury auto dealers, real estate professionals, accountants, museums and auction houses to put anti-money laundering safeguards in place.

"If we make banks report dirty money, but allow law, real estate and accounting firms to look the other way, that creates a loophole that crooks and kleptocrats can sail a yacht through," said Malinowski on Oct 6 in introducing the Enablers Act.

Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Republicans Joe Wilson (SC) and Maria Elvira Salazar (FL) co-sponsored the bill.