Secret Buyers of High End Property Targeted
The US Treasury Department will begin identifying and tracking anonymous buyers of luxury real estate, especially in Manhattan and Miami.
The US Treasury Department said January 13 that it would begin identifying and tracking anonymous buyers of luxury real estate, especially in Manhattan and Miami. The New York Times reports that what the authorities are particularly interested in are all-cash purchases made by shell companies used to shield the identities of the buyers. As some of our readers may well be aware, this has never happened before because this kind of purchasing behavior is perfectly legal.
The real estate industry is likely worried about this move as there is a boom in high-end properties in the US at the moment and much of that is down to investors with deep pockets who shun the limelight. The Times says this new investigative zeal is part of a broader effort to check money laundering and it also notes that authorities were inspired by a series of stories put together on such dealings by none other than the Gray Lady.
Well, the ICIJ also reported in 2014 on the perceived lack of regulation in high-end property in the US, citing Manhattan and Miami in particular, and using the corruption case of former Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian and his wife to illustrate ($1.75 million in ill-gotten gains were used to purchase an apartment in Manhattan’s Onyx Chelsea). The story called luxury real estate a literal target of corrupt individuals seeking to act in an above-board manner. Strangely, this property purchase would have been unaffected by the new measures.
US authorities are now requiring insurance companies to discover and disclose the identities of property buyers in Manhattan for purchases above $3 million and Miami-Dade, for purchases above $1 million. The original Times article is here, for reference.