U.S. Rep. Hill focused on financing secrecy in oversight role

by Roby Brock (roby@talkbusiness.net) 141 views 

U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, was complimentary of President Donald Trump’s Middle East terrorism stance and he said a portion of his Congressional work is centered on more transparency and reforms in the international bank financing system.

Hill, who appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, said the new Gulf Cooperation Council is a step in the right direction for Saudi Arabia and other regional countries to curtail the financing of global terrorism.

“We know that in the Shiite world that Iran Hezbollah are the largest supporters of terrorism in the Shia world, and so continued pressure and sanctions in and around the Iranian deal and on the Assad regime sanction-wise, I think, is an important set of actions for the Trump administration,” Hill said of the president’s first foreign trip.

“In the Sunni world, he announced that he would set up with the Gulf Cooperation Council a terror finance interdiction operation in the gulf region. I think that’s an important component,” he added, “We obviously know there are Sunni interests that finance radical Islamic terror as well, and so I think those are important actions he needs to take in the Middle East region.”

Hill serves on a low-profile subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee known as Oversights and Investigations. The Second District Congressman said the subcommittee’s work is focusing on three areas: terrorist financing, bank secrecy, and digital currency.

“We’re considering updating the bank secrecy act on how we collect all the reported transactions through the banking system. It hasn’t really been updated since it was put in place in 1970,” Hill said. “Obviously, the Patriot Act after 9/11 made some changes. That’s gonna be a big issue. Secondly, how do we really capture information most easily for shell companies that are being formed in the United States and elsewhere to hide ownership of certain assets and certain money trails? And thirdly, something that I think is going to be fascinating and have critical benefit to both the private sector and the government sector, is how do we deal with digital currency in the emerging world of BitCoin and Blockchain transaction analysis?”

The second issue – capturing information on shell companies and international money trails – is an area of investigation that could explore ties to Russia and members of the Trump orbit.

On the domestic front, Hill also suggested there will be many changes to the Trump budget that was revealed last week. While there is more money for military spending and higher income tax cuts, there are severe cuts to agriculture programs, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits.

“What I appreciated was Donald Trump presenting his suggestions for a balanced budget in a 10-year window, something that this Congress has not seen from the previous administration,” Hill said. “What we have to do is have the priorities set for the most vulnerable and work from there in the discretionary budget, but we can’t solve our long-term deficit reduction plans and the need to make sure that we have fiscal stability in this country without reforming our mandatory spending programs, which President Trump really does not address in this budget with the exception, that you noted, which is trying to create some improvements in things like social security disability, eligibility, and authorization.”

Hill has a bill to alter that system, but says until there is bipartisan support “we will never get this country on the right fiscal trajectory.”

Hill was interviewed on Thursday, May 25 before Trump’s remarks to NATO or news of Jared Kushner’s efforts to communicate with Russia.

Watch his full interview below.

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