Following a year-long investigation by the New York Times that exposed the prevalence of L.L.C.s or ‘shell companies’ with anonymous members using cash to purchase high end residential real estate in New York City, the U.S. Treasury Department has begun identifying and tracking secret buyers of high-end properties.
The concern is that illicit money is flowing into luxury real estate.
Here in Vancouver, there has been a lot of talk, rumour, and innuendo about where all of the money for luxury properties is coming from, but the authorities have done very little in terms of tracking that money.
Louise Story is a staff reporter for The New York Times and she’s written extensively about the tracking of secret real estate purchasers.
“The Treasury Department is requiring that title insurance companies turn over the names of people behind the shell companies, that are buying up so much of the high end real estate, not just in new York, but in other major cities as well.”
LISTEN to the full interview here:
Story found in an investigation that no one knows who is behind the LLC companies; not the realtors, the lawyers, the condo boards.
“Not to mention the law enforcement. And this has become a big problem for law enforcement when they’re trying to track down leads on a drug deal or on corrupt money flowing into a building.”
She says that even trough a lot is clean money and people are simply using LLC’s for privacy, the sea of privacy that the shell companies create makes it harder to find the questionable money.
The Treasury Department is acting on a six month trial base with the intention of expanding it to other locations across the US.
The main thing they’re trying to do, according to Story, is get people’s names so they put them in a database used by police when looking for people who have been involved in nefarious activities.
Story’s investigations with reporter Stephanie Saul are called Towers of Secrecy and can be found on the New York Times website.