Letter from Free Congress Foundation and others to Commerce Secretary Paul O'Neill.
Re: Financial Privacy.
Date: May 15, 2001.
Source: Free Congress Foundation.

The Honorable Paul H. O'Neill
Secretary of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20220

May 15, 2001

Dear Secretary O'Neill,

The undersigned organizations, representing a diverse and broad cross-section of American society, are concerned that the Administration is not adequately safeguarding privacy in the context of certain international initiatives in the area of investigations regarding financial crimes. Specifically, we are concerned that the proposals of the Organization For Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for increased bank reporting on customers do not respect our financial privacy.

We recognize your increased concern for the tax implications with the OECD and the FATF but are concerned that you have not made privacy a sufficient priority. The current proposals of OECD and FATF attempt to institute the popularly rejected "Know Your Customer" financial regulation, thereby sidestepping the domestic legislative process. We are concerned about the attempt to get Know Your Customer adopted as an international "best practice" under the guise of increasing transparency.

Over 300,000 citizens filed comments against the Know Your Customer proposal under the Clinton Administration. We are disappointed that the Bush Administration continues to pursue an approach that Larry Lindsey has described as ineffective: 99.999% of all Currency Transaction Reports filed are on law-abiding citizens going about their normal business. The Suspicious Activities Reports' approach discriminates against the poor, as well as racial and ethnic minorities.

The OECD and FATF's campaigns against banking secrecy and "harmful tax competition" are problematic for several reasons. This approach undermines the public confidence between individuals and their financial institutions, accountants and lawyers. These policies would likely distort capital inflows to the United States and could act, effectively, as capital controls. Economic dislocations to affected countries could lead to unintended political, foreign policy and immigration concerns. Our modern economy requires a liberal capital policy that engenders the consumer trust that comes with respect for privacy. We strongly urge you to make a clear statement instituting policies that respect financial privacy and that the Treasury Department opposes the type of reporting requirements being advanced by the OECD and FATF.


Paul M. Weyrich
National Chairman
Coalitions for America

J. Bradley Jansen
Coalition for Constitutional Liberties

James J. Fotis
Executive Director
Law Enforcement Alliance of America

Jane Orient
Executive Director
American Association of Physicians and Surgeons

John Berthoud
National Taxpayers Union

Andrew F. Quinlan
Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Frances B. Smith
Executive Director
Consumer Alert

Katherine Albrecht
Founder and Editor
CASPIAN - Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering

Gordon S. Jones
Association of Concerned Taxpayers

Henry A. Whitmore
Committee Chairman
People Against Church Taxation

Kent Snyder
Executive Director
The Liberty Committee

Cliff Kincaid
America's Survival, Inc.

Lisa S. Dean
Vice President
Free Congress Foundation

Jim Dempsey
Deputy Director
Center for Democracy and Technology

George C. Landrith
Executive Director
Frontiers of Freedom

Tom Shatz
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Solveig Singleton
Senior Analyst
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Edward A. Mallett
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Steve Dasbach
National Director
Libertarian Party

Eric Sterling
Criminal Justice Policy Foundation

Tom DeWeese
American Policy Center

Dwight Patel
Coalition for a Tax-Free Internet

Amy Ridenour
The National Center for Public Policy Research

Richard W. Rahn
Senior Fellow
Discovery Institute

Chuck Muth
Republican Liberty Caucus

Jon C. Pastore
Executive Director
Young Americans for Freedom

Dr. Patricia McEwen
Ministry Coordinator
Life Coalition International

Miriam Archer
Director of Operations
Christian Coalition of California

Aaron Starr, CPA
Libertarian Party of California

Eunie Smith
Eagle Forum of Alabama

Joey Davis
State Director
Concerned Women for America of Missouri

Julaine K. Appling
Executive Director
Family Research Institute of WI

Gene Linder
Libertarian Party of Utah

Bobby L. Hester
American Family Association of Arkansas

Cedric and Sandi Boehr
Kansas Constitution Party

Mike Fellows
Montana Libertarian Party

James A. Landrith, Jr.
Editor & Publisher
The Multiracial Activist
and The Abolitionist Examiner

Jim Harper

Adrian Day
Global Strategic Management

John Katon
AWS Construction Services, Inc.

Christopher Whalen
The Whalen Consulting Group
New York

David A. Hodgkinson
D.A. Hodgkinson, CPA.

Bert Ely
Banking Consultant
Ely & Company, Inc.