Ethics watchdogs are calling for more teeth in disclosure laws for limited liability companies and their ownership.
The group Reinvent Albany on Friday called for the passage of a measure that would dislcose the owners of limited liability companies, pointing to the prominence of LLC giving in political campaigns and the potential for money laundering through shell companies.
LLCs are behind a significant amount of campaign cash in New York, but their names and ownership are often opaque, making it difficult to discern who is behind the donation. A change in the law in 2019 required more disclosure for LLCs when used as political donation vehicles, but government watchdogs believe it hasn't gone far enough in opening the entities up to scrutiny.
The group wants to ensure information on LLC ownership is made available to local tax and law enforcement authorities.
"Opening up beneficial owners’ identity to the public will help government regulators and law enforcement bodies determine whether LLCs are being used to illegally move cash and dodge taxes," the group wrote in a memorandum of support.
The proposed measure would also require the state's business entity database to disclose the full legal name or names of each beneficial owner for every LLC and foreign LLC acting as a reporting company. The database would include the business entity's name, street address and filing histroy.
The measure includes a waiver process if "significant privacy interests" are raised.
"We believe this bill provides a strong foundation for making the ownership of New York’s LLCs more transparent," the group wrote. "We hope that in the future, the Legislature will go even further by establishing sharing of beneficial owner data between the NYS Departments of State and Taxation and Finance, and mechanisms for enforcing the law such as appropriate penalties."