Monday, February 01, 2016

Report Describes Lawyers’ Advice on Moving Suspect Funds Into U.S.

By LOUISE STORY, NYT
JAN. 31, 2016

With attention growing on the use of shell companies in high-end real estate, an activist organization released a report Sunday night that said several New York real estate lawyers had been caught on camera providing advice on how to move suspect money into the United States.

The report is the result of an undercover investigation carried out in 2014 by Global Witness, a nonprofit activist organization that has been pushing for stricter money-laundering rules.

The lawyers featured in the report include a recent president of the American Bar Association.

“It wasn’t hard to find lawyers to suggest ways to move suspect funds into the United States,” said Stefanie Ostfeld, a spokeswoman for Global Witness. “We went undercover because it is the only way we could show what really happens behind closed doors. The findings speak for themselves — something urgently needs to change.”

The real estate industry has been under growing scrutiny as evidence has emerged that suspect money is flowing into luxury real estate. Global Witness cited an investigation last year in The New York Times that documented numerous foreign officials and their family members buying multimillion-dollar properties in Manhattan and quantified the rising use of shell companies in real estate transactions.

(More here.)

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