Treasury wants more oversight of all-cash real estate transactions
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration is seeking to expand reporting requirements on real estate cash transactions to help crack down on bad actors’ use of the U.S. market to launder money from illicit activity.
The Treasury Department issued a notice on Monday seeking public comment on potential regulation that would address what it says is a vulnerability in the housing market.
Currently, title insurance companies in only 12 metropolitan areas are required to file reports identifying individuals who make all-cash purchases of residential real estate through shell companies if the transaction exceeds 300,000. $.
“Increasing transparency in the real estate industry will reduce the ability of corrupt officials and criminals to launder the proceeds of their ill-gotten gains in the US real estate market,” said Himamauli Das, acting director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the Treasure.
Das said the move could “strengthen US national security and help protect the integrity of the US financial system.”
Metro areas currently facing reporting requirements are Boston; Chicago; Dallas-Fort Worth; Honolulu; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; and Seattle.
The US real estate market has long been viewed as a stable stage for corrupt government officials around the world and other illicit actors seeking to launder the proceeds of criminal activity.
The use of shell companies by current and former world leaders, and their families, to purchase real estate and other assets in the United States and elsewhere has recently been highlighted by the publication of the “Pandora Papers” by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Leaked documents acquired by the consortium showed that King Abdullah II of Jordan, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other figures used shell companies to purchase mansions, exclusive beachfront properties, yachts and other assets over the past quarter century.
Tax evasion may be legal but has given rise to various proposals to improve tax transparency and strengthen the fight against tax evasion.
The effort to push for further regulation of the real estate market comes as the Biden administration released its “US Anti-Corruption Strategy” on Monday.
The strategy was released as President Joe Biden prepares to host the inaugural White House Democracy Summit, a virtual gathering of leaders and civil society experts from more than 100 countries scheduled to take place on Thursday and Friday.
The strategy offers broad brushstrokes to tackle corruption at home and abroad. It includes calls on the US government to close regulatory loopholes, stepping up the fight against corruption in US diplomatic efforts and strengthening protection for civil society and members of the media, including investigative journalists, who denounce Corruption.
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