New Orleans There is some low-grade whining about some of the amendments that were added to the Dodd-Frank legislation last year which was intended to hold financial institutions more accountable. Congressman Barney Frank successfully added an amendment requiring companies to disclose payments to foreign governments around oil and natural gas extraction. Other companies are required to disclose whether companies manufacture products using “conflict” minerals from the Congo and other African countries. As a general rule, we should ignore all whining on Wall Street.
In fact we need more disclosure on some issues that are part and parcel of Wall Street business, especially around money transfers and money transfer organizations, like Western Union, MoneyGram, and their imitators and wannabes. In ACORN International’s first report released as part of the Remittance Justice Campaign, “Past Time for Remittance Justice” (available at www.acorninternational.org), we quoted directly from members of the banking community in Africa the fact that the single largest obstacle in lowering the cost of remittances in many African countries came down to what they called “exclusive agreements.”
An “exclusive agreement” is an agreement with a particular operation, like Western Union, that it will have preferential abilities to move money a particular country. Many economists and banking officials told us directly that there would be no significant lowering of fees, particularly driven by central banks in Africa, given these exclusive agreements.
This adds up to billions of dollars in money siphoned away from immigrant families and migrant workers trying to assist their home countries at the grassroots level. It would be nice if poor people in poor countries could find advocates in Congress for an issue that still lacks Hollywood attention.