Russia Sanctions Bill Also Targets Real Estate Deals
New sanctions on Russia proposed by a group of U.S. senators also includes a provision that would make title insurance companies reveal the owners of shell companies when they make all-cash real-estate purchases anywhere in the U.S.
Shell-company real estate deals are legal, but are attractive to money launderers because the purchase can be made anonymously and the buyer doesn’t have to explain the origin of the funds used. Analysts say that secrecy has allowed kleptocrats, human traffickers and other criminals to exploit a hole in the U.S. financial system to legitimize their funds.
Law enforcement has seized property, ranging from Manhattan apartments to California mansions, in its pursuit of money laundering by corrupt foreign officials stashing their funds in the U.S. as part of its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.