Incoming Treasury Secretary to Prioritize Climate Change & AML Reform

The former Federal Reserve Chair and new US Treasury Secretary laid out her priorities

The former Federal Reserve Chair and new US Treasury Secretary laid out her priorities as head of one of the nation’s most pivotal Departments in front of the Senate Finance Committee recently. Reducing the impact of climate change on the financial system and launching a registry of startup companies to combat money-laundering risks are both key priorities for the new Presidential administration, according to Yellen.

“I will look to appoint someone at a very senior level to lead our efforts and to create a hub within Treasury in which we particularly focus on financial system related risks and tax policy incentives toward climate change,” Yellen stated during her nomination hearing “I think we need to seriously look at assessing the risks to the financial system from climate change.”

Yellen was responding to inquiries from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who observed that no “specific office” exists in the Treasury Department focused on addressing the climate change risks in the US financial system.

Yellen also praised Congress for a recent defense spending bill that enacted a measure which will require organizations to disclose their owners to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) when they go through the process of incorporation. The legislation was initially intended to decrease pressure on banks, which up to now have been responsible for identifying and reporting their customers’ beneficial owners.

The Treasury Department has already been making moves on these priorities after FinCEN issued a $390 million penalty against Capital One recently, saying the financial giant admitted to “willfully failing to implement and maintain” an effective anti-money laundering program.

 

Yellen also stated that she plans to implement the AML provision of the National Defense Authorization Act quickly during the hearing – which would launch a database of companies' beneficial ownership information.

“This is a very important problem and that the Act that was recently passed by Congress gives us an enormously potent tool to address this problem,” Yellen stated.“We will try to get up and running as quickly as possible and devote ourselves to building that database so we can address these issues and will certainly be looking to give this a very high priority.”

 

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