The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday ordered title insurance firms to continue reporting "all cash" acquisitions of luxury property in New York, Florida, California and Texas for another six months amid concerns that criminals are still converting their profits into luxury real estate.
Federal cases against attorneys, accountants and other professionals suspected of washing illicit proceeds have risen by roughly 30 percent in the year since the FBI began actively targeting third-party facilitators, according to the head of the bureau's money laundering unit.
The real estate sector's vulnerabilities to money laundering and corruption extend beyond simple schemes to use illicit funds when purchasing property. In many cases, the third parties involved in such deals pose risks too.
U.S. officials on Wednesday ordered title insurance firms to disclose high-value cash purchases of real estate in California, Texas, Florida and New York as part of an effort to identify money laundering.
Some of the 700 Miami-area electronics retailers placed under enhanced reporting requirements by the U.S. Treasury Department last year are routing payments through recently-created offshore branches to circumvent the rules.
U.S. officials are likely to gather a wealth of data from the imposition of newly-mandated reporting requirements but may have limited means to directly enforce compliance with the rules, according to government sources.