FBI Establishes Permanent Task Force To Investigate Corruption And Money Laundering In Miami’s Real Estate Market
In 2016, the United States Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) began monitoring all-cash real estate purchases of $1 million or more. Not surprisingly, after the rule took effect, cash purchases of luxury real estate by shell companies and other entities were reduced by 95%. Due to its obvious success, the FinCEN program has since been expanded and extended beyond the luxury real estate market cover a much wider range of real estate transactions.
Even with these efforts, money laundering continues to be significant problem in Miami. In recent years, there has been increased instances of corrupt foreign money infiltrating Miami’s real estate market. Two prominent Miami condominium projects have been linked to money laundering. It is alleged that top Venezuelan officials have pumped ill-gotten funds into the Porsche Tower and Icon Brickell projects. There are countless other stories about corrupt foreign money, the product of political bribes and other illicit activities making its way to Miami.
In response to the success of the FinCEN program and the continued prevalence of money laundering in the Magic City, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has established a permanent anti-corruption and money laundering task force in Miami. The Miami International Corruption Squad will be comprised of FBI agents and forensic accountants trained to identify and eradicate money laundering. Similar squads have existed for years in other cities such as New York, DC and Los Angeles, but, surprisingly, not in Miami. The squads from other cities were seeing so much activity in Miami that the FBI decided to establish a permanent team in Miami. The squad will work with the United States Attorney’s office to investigate and prosecute money laundering in South Florida. If the FinCEN program is any indicator, the Miami task force will be quite busy and make a serious impact on money laundering.
As an investor in South Florida real estate, it is important to conduct proper due diligence on the party from whom you are buying or selling. Verifying the chain of title, corporate structure and ownership, and source of funds in a real estate transaction is critical to ensure that you do not inadvertently become involved in an illicit transaction. Barbosa Legal has a team of attorney’s who specialize in real estate, tax, and corporate law and we routinely provide counsel to foreign real estate investors.