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Warren says she’d target shadowy shell companies if elected president

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Senator Elizabeth Warren is vowing to crack down on global money laundering and other financial crimes if she’s elected president as part of a new anti-corruption plan released on Tuesday.

Warren said she’d press for legislation that would require so-called shell companies, legal entities that are often created to hide the ownership of an asset, to identify their owners, arguing such companies are often used to hide illegal activity. The plan is intended to crack down on the US banking system’s role in laundering “dark money” that funds repressive regimes around the world.

“This will increase law enforcement’s understanding of the web of companies operating in the United States, and help to end our country’s status as a global facilitator of money laundering,” Warren wrote in a post on the website Medium announcing the plan.

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She also used the opportunity to highlight President Trump’s business practices, criticizing him for making real estate deals throughout his career that “reek of money laundering, corruption, and fraud.”

USA Today last year found that following Trump’s nomination, about 70 percent of buyers who purchased real estate from Trump’s companies did so using shell companies.

Warren said her new plan, which builds on an existing domestic proposal she introduced in September, would help to root out global corruption facilitated by loose financial regulations in the US and elsewhere.

Announced on the heels of another proposal that expands protections for part-time retail and service employees, the plan continues Warren’s renewed focus on her core message of economic fairness and making the very wealthy pay their fair share as she seeks to bolster slipping poll numbers in the wake of criticism of her Medicare for All proposal.

The Cambridge Democrat gave her most forceful attack yet against her moderate rivals in the Democratic primary field in a speech at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., last week, and called out billionaire former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg by name.

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As part of her anti-corruption plan, Warren said she’d also strictly enforce rules targeting what she calls the “enablement industry” of lawyers, accountants, and others who faciliate the movement of dark money.

To prevent corruption abroad, Warren reiterated that she’s willing to use trade deals as leverage to incentivize reforms in other countries, and she said she’d target indivduals engaging in corrupt practices with sanctions.

“The global financial system is only as strong as its weakest link,” Warren wrote.