Venezuelan vice president and drug trafficker used proceeds from narcotics to buy three units at Millennium Tower in Miami (The Four Seasons) for $7 Million.
Between 2011 and 2013, he bought three units at the Millennium Tower, totaling 8,600 square feet and seven bedrooms. They include sweeping views of the city from an enviable 64th-floor corner unit.
In Miami-Dade County, half of the all-cash luxury home purchases made using shell companies were flagged as suspicious by the U.S. Treasury Department’s pilot program that unearths shady real estate transactions.
Miami has one of the highest rates of suspicious activity among major luxury markets included in the program, which aims to eliminate laundered money and ill-gotten gains in high-end real estate. Other areas with high rates of suspicious activity linked to luxury homes included Brooklyn and Queens in New York, and San Antonio, Texas.
Specifically, Treasury flagged 16 out of 32 such transactions in Miami-Dade County in the program’s first year. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network launched the program Feb. 29, 2016, in Miami and New York and then expanded it over the summer to other parts of the U.S.
“The case highlights our continued focus on narcotics traffickers and those who help launder their illicit proceeds through the United States,” John E. Smith, acting director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in February. “Denying a safe haven for illicit assets in the United States and protecting the U.S. financial system from abuse remain top priorities.”
Some people, however, are outspoken against the program and do not support the government collecting data on perfectly legal homebuyers who want the privacy a shell company affords.
Industry insiders have said in the past that they expect the program to continue beyond its August expiration date because of its success, though Treasury has not announced a permanent plan.
“What we have learned,” said Mr. Hudak, the Treasury spokesman, “could help shape any future regulatory efforts to protect the financial system.”
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