Late Wednesday, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting help in obtaining information of assets that may be owned or controlled by the Chinese government, yet housed in the Florida Treasury as unclaimed property. The Division of Unclaimed Property, within the Department of Financial Services, is administered by the state’s Chief Financial Officer.
FULL TEXT OF LETTER:
April 22, 2020
The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington DC, 20520
Dear Secretary Pompeo,
I want to thank you and President Trump for your leadership and service to Americans during the COVID-19 crisis. This is a difficult time in our nation’s history as Americans have lost, and continue to lose, loved ones to the virus. In Florida we are lucky to have a Governor and congressional delegation that are working together to get families through this crisis, save lives, and get Americans back to work.
As you are aware, our nation is under attack by an unseen enemy and the financial impact of COVID-19 to both federal and state budgets is great. Clearly, if another nation attacked our country, and inflicted the kind of economic harm that is being brought to the American economy, we would demand restitution. While the national media may debate whether COVID-19 came from a wet market or a lab in Wuhan, everyone agrees it originated in China. Moreover, there’s no debate that lives could have been saved had the Chinese government been more transparent with the world about the severity, and contagious nature of the COVID-19 virus.
Based on these facts, I am of the opinion that China has a debt to pay to our country, and the State of Florida, for their negligence and deceptive practices. It is my hope that the administration is working to secure financial compensation from China.
To aid in these efforts, as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer I am requesting the U.S. Department of State provide our Division of Unclaimed Property with technical assistance in identifying Chinese state-owned businesses that may have unclaimed property that is housed in the State of Florida Treasury.
The State of Florida is in possession of $2 billion in unclaimed property, including assets that may be owned by businesses controlled by the Chinese government. Your partnership in providing U.S. State Department information about the international domicile of some of these businesses would be essential in helping our Division of Unclaimed Property identify any Chinese government assets currently classified as “unclaimed” in Florida. While we know there is currently no national policy to recoup Chinese assets, including any identified in Florida, we believe the identification of these assets at the very least would give greater information to President Trump and Congressional leaders who continue to debate possible penalties on China for the suppression of information about the Coronavirus.
Your assistance is required in this process. If proven successful, Florida could serve as a model for the other 49 states in identifying resources that could help get our country back on its feet.
I look forward to your response,
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
About CFO Jimmy Patronis
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).