Anonymous LLCs To Be Outlawed As Part Of Defense Spending Bill
The commercial real estate industry may be forced to become much more transparent in the coming years.
A subsection of the newest version of the National Defense Authorization Act would force all new corporations and limited liability companies to disclose the name, address and government-issued identification number of all owners upon their formation, Vox reports.
If passed, the bill's provision — labeled Division F in the NDAA's full text — would give the Treasury Department a year to set the formal rules for compliance. Once the rules are set, they would immediately apply to new companies, while already-formed companies would have two years to submit identifying information to Treasury.
Members of Congress have been pushing for legislation to ban the practice of anonymous shell companies since at least 2016, alleging that it allows for the laundering of money that could be used to fund any number of illegal activities up to and including terrorism. High-priced real estate in gateway markets like New York and Miami is often held up as a primary example of potential abuses.
The NDAA sets a broad array of policies for the various branches of the U.S. military and this year contains funding measures including a 3% pay raise for service members. It has been passed in some form for 59 straight years and looks likely to pass again, even if Trump carries out his veto threat.
A notable exemption from the bill is the category of investment trusts. Without more robust disclosure requirements, investors in trusts managed by third parties have a shield against regulators attempting to trace money back to its source, Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition policy adviser Clark Gascoigne told Vox.
The bill does mandate the Governmental Accountability Office and Treasury Department to conduct studies on the potential risks of trusts, leaving open the potential for expansion of the policy in the future.