The U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), its lead agency in the fight against money laundering, will start identifying and monitoring high-end cash buyers of luxury properties in Miami-Dade County, as well as in the Borough of Manhattan in New York City.
The move comes amid concerns about money laundering in the real estate sector via all-cash purchases that may be conducted by individuals or companies trying to hide their assets and identity.
Certain title insurance companies will now be forced to identify and report who the true "beneficial owner" is behind certain high-end real estate purchases in Manhattan and Miami-Dade.
“We are seeking to understand the risk that corrupt foreign officials, or transnational criminals, may be using premium U.S. real estate to secretly invest millions in dirty money,” said FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery in a statement. “Over the years, our rules have evolved to make the standard mortgage market more transparent and less hospitable to fraud and money laundering. But cash purchases present a more complex gap that we seek to address. These GTOs will produce valuable data that will assist law enforcement and inform our broader efforts to combat money laundering in the real estate sector.”
The program will remain in effect for 180 days, starting on March 1 and expiring on August 27.
It marks the first time the federal government has required real estate companies to identify buyers behind such all-cash transactions.
This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.