Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Arts and antiquities dealers in the U.S. will soon be stripped of much of the privacy and anonymity that has both defined the market — and enabled corruption.

Why it matters: Congress passed a bill that will go into effect in December, requiring these dealers to confirm the identities of buyers and sellers — not just that of intermediaries. The intent is to stifle the ability to use art purchases to launder ill-gotten money or evade taxes.

  • Regulatory changes — which have taken shape slowly since the Panama Papers were published in 2016 — are making it harder for criminals to hide money in markets like art, antiquities and real estate.
  • The new law catches the U.S. up with recent changes in Europe — and these regions together encompass nearly three-quarters of arts and antiquities sales.

Reality check: Money always finds its way to the path of least resistance, and those with cash to stash can still cherry-pick the jurisdictions where they make large transactions — if they have the means and connections.

  • One example: Last month’s Pandora Papers included the story of English explorer Douglas Latchford, who reportedly used a web of offshore companies and trusts to traffic art and artifacts from Cambodian cultural sites (more on that here).

What they're saying: “Arts and antiquities is an industry that’s accustomed to, and in many ways prizes, its privacy. The transparency that the rules are probably going to require may be a bit of a shock to the system,” Eric Volkman, who co-leads Latham and Watkins' export controls, economic sanctions & customs practice, tells Axios.

  • “I don’t think there’s any doubt that at least at the margins the new rules will have an impact on illicit activity,” he adds.

The big picture: It’s not just arts and antiquities. In recent years the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has beefed up the rules in banking and real estate around identifying the actual owner of assets, in an attempt to shine a light on who's behind dirty money.

  • “The big change that we're starting to see now is the professional service providers being held to account for their activities,” Rachel Woolley, global head of financial crime at Fenergo, a compliance technologies provider, tells Axios.

For example, FinCEN expanded the Bank Secrecy Act in 2018 to require the financial institutions in its purview to identify accounts' “ultimate beneficial owners” — or the secretive owners behind the shell companies that hold assets. (This doesn’t typically apply to the South Dakota trusts that the Pandora Papers pinpointed as tax havens).

  • Treasury is now focused on building a registry of beneficial owners that government and financial institutions can leverage to identify corruption, as Scott Rembrandt, deputy assistant secretary for strategic policy at Treasury spoke about at a conference earlier this month.

And in the world of real estate, FinCEN introduced a six-month experimental procedure in 2016 called “geographic targeting orders” (GTOs), which requires insurance companies to report certain all-cash purchases of homes — and the homes' beneficial owners.

What’s next: NFTs, fintechs, and cryptocurrency firms are the next frontier for closer scrutiny.

Go deeper

Signs of stress in the Treasury market

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A who’s who of financial regulatory agencies are convening Wednesday to talk about how to ensure the $22 trillion Treasury market functions properly.

At issue: Fixing liquidity problems that have, at times, exacerbated price swings.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.