Here’s the real reason Trump may veto the defense funding bill: Ex-IRS investigator

Here’s the real reason Trump may veto the defense funding bill: Ex-IRS investigator
The White House.

President Donald Trump has threatened to veto the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act, which Congress has passed and presidents have signed for 59 years.

The outgoing president objects to provision for changing the names of military bases honoring Confederate historical figures and preserving part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act protecting tech companies from liability for user-generated content — but there may actually be a more self-serving reason for his recalcitrance, reported The Daily Beast.

"None of that explains why he'd risk a humiliating veto override to shoot down a popular bipartisan bill," wrote Martin Sheil, a longtime investigator for the Internal Revenue Service. "One thing that would explain his bizarre position here is another add-on: one that could expose financial arrangements that Trump would prefer to keep hidden."

That add-on is the Illicit Cash Act, which would modernize federal money laundering laws by requiring shell companies to report their beneficial owners.

"Currently, the U.S. is at the bottom of the pack with respect to corporate transparency," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who has been pushing for the act since 2007. "In many states, more personal information is needed to obtain a library card than to establish a legal entity that can be used to facilitate tax evasion, money laundering, fraud, and corruption. The U.S has been identified in several studies as one of the easiest jurisdictions in which to open an anonymous company."

That legislation would have prevented the Trump family from setting up shell companies that allowed the president's father Fred Trump from making large cash gifts to his children disguised as legitimate business transactions to evade taxes, and could expose possible wrongdoing in his real estate empire.

"'Beyond the impacts for law enforcement,'" Maloney has noted, the Illicit Cash Act, 'will directly affect us here at home by lowering housing costs in New York City,' where shell companies parking money in high-end real estate have cut into housing supply and pushed up real estate costs for everyone else," Sheil wrote. "That includes many of the 1,300 Trump condominiums that were purchased with all cash by anonymous shell companies, according to a Buzzfeed investigation."

A New York Timesanalysis found Trump was $420 million in debt, with many of those obligations due in the next few years, and the president also has secret bank accounts in China, Ireland and the UK — and Sheil said Maloney's act poses a direct threat to Trump's finances.

"If Donald Trump is not afraid, he should be," Sheil wrote. "Take it to the bank. You know, the one offshore."

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