The U.S. economy has always benefited from foreign capital. However, the government knows very little about foreign inflows, especially those in the forms of private funds, such as hedge funds, venture capital and private equity, reports a Bloomberg Opinion piece.
The U.S. does not effectively track these flows, and so information about which countries own government debt, hold outstanding corporate stocks and bonds, and invest directly in American businesses is unknown.
These private fund structures make it possible for foreign countries to potentially make investments that threaten national security.
Since its hacking and interference in the 2016 election, Russia has made use of financial activity as a method to extend its influence.
The opinion piece’s authors urge for the protection of national security, by demanding financial transparency and ending anonymous investments and money flows.
To prove the urgency of this matter, the authors cited a case last summer, where the FBI notified Maryland state that Vladimir Potanin, a Russian billionaire, owned the company that hosted the state’s voter registry.
Potanin’s stake in the company was obtained through Altpoint Capital, a private equity firm in New York, in which Potanin is the largest investor. Altpoint Capital also owns other companies that hold technology contracts with the departments of defense, energy and labor.
Russia is not the only country with immense financial influence in the U.S. In Silicon Valley, venture capital investment often comes from China. Danhua Capital and Oriza Ventures are two Chinese venture capital funds that represent the Chinese government’s efforts to spread the industrial influence of China.
Unlike Europe, the U.S. does not require private fund managers to have programs to prevent money
The opinion piece concludes with the authors imploring for increased financial transparency, as Russian and Chinese attempts to spread their influence in the U.S. continue to grow.