Biden Rolls Out New Anti-Corruption Strategy With Focus On Anonymous Real Estate Transactions
The federal government's plan to unmask the owners of shell companies owning real estate in the U.S. has hit a key milestone.
President Joe Biden's administration released the United States Strategy on Countering Corruption, a 38-page document that Biden called the first of its kind, on Monday. One of the five pillars of that strategy is to curb illicit finance. To that end, the Treasury Department immediately released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, or ANPRM, for its implementation of a bill passed last year forcing LLCs making real estate purchases to disclose their ownership structures.
That bill, the Corporate Transparency Act, was included in Congress' annual defense spending bill and passed into law in January, with a deadline for implementation set for the beginning of next year. Congressional Democrats sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in November complaining about the lack of progress the Cabinet department had made in crafting the specific rules by which the CTA will be enforced, Financial Times reports.
The ANPRM is the first sign of concrete progress, launching a public comments period wherein Treasury, specifically its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN, will solicit input on what the scope of the law's enforcement will include.
"We’re basically asking for public input on which types of real estate purchases should be covered in any future regulation, what information should be reported and retained, the geographic scope of such a requirement, the appropriate reporting dollar-value threshold, and the key players who should be subject to the reporting and recordkeeping requirements," a senior Biden administration official said in a conference call with reporters on Sunday.
Previous laws targeting money laundering through the anonymous purchase of real estate have come with Geographic Targeting Orders, restricting enforcement to purchases of residential real estate in 12 gateway cities, such as New York and Miami. But a think tank report released over the summer found that money laundering is also prevalent in commercial real estate and in secondary markets across the country, which the new rules will attempt to address.
"We recognize that any approach that we take is going to have burdens on the real estate industry and real estate sector," a senior administration official said on the conference call. "So we’re very focused on asking a number of questions around ways that any approach that we take towards this additional regulation can be used to minimize the regulatory burdens on the real estate sector, as well, in a way that’s consistent with our efforts and desire to combat corruption."