Manhattan just another island haven for dirty money

Center for Public Integrity

During his time in office, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was a cheerleader for encouraging the mega-wealthy to relocate to New York City. 

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could get all the Russian billionaires to move here?” he told New York magazine in September.

Related: Inside the global offshore money maze

Bloomberg’s dream might have come true, although in a less celebrated way than he possibly intended.

According to court records and secret documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Manhattan has become America’s own island haven for shady characters from overseas looking to funnel their wealth into the U.S. through New York’s luxury real estate industry.

Related: ICIJ releases offshore leaks database revealing names behind secret companies, trusts

Combine that give-us-your-rich ethos with state and local policies that lavish tax breaks on Manhattan’s wealthiest homeowners and federal policies that allow real estate agents to close their eyes to whether their clients are trafficking illicit money, and the results are predictable: New York is a magnet for the super-rich homebuyers from other lands bearing money of sometimes dubious provenance. The flood of foreign capital pouring into New York properties makes it easy for suspect figures to hide their fortunes amid Manhattan’s residential gold rush, according to money laundering experts, court documents and secret offshore records.

The lax standards that allow some foreigners to launder money through American real estate sometimes mean that Manhattan’s financial and cultural elite end up with some mysterious figures as their neighbors.

Related: New bank leak shows how rich exploit tax haven loopholes

Read the full story on ICIJ.org.

  

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Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.

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