Lax disclosure regulations that have made the U.S. a global hot spot for money laundering via real estate holdings will make it difficult for officials to seize properties from Russian oligarchs.
Russian oligarchs have likely staked a large part of their wealth in U.S. commercial real estate properties in purchases that are easier to conceal than high-profile luxury mansions and superyachts. Federal law requires “self-reporting” of transactions making it difficult to track who owns what.
A 2020 law giving the U.S. Treasury the power to stop tax evaders, kleptocrats, terrorists, and other criminals from using anonymous shell companies to hide assets is not strong enough to compel disclosure of ownership, according to some legal experts. Russian oligarchs have purchased numerous luxury condos in Manhattan and Miami, but significant funds from Russia money have also been used to snap up property in cities across the U.S.
According to Global Financial Integrity, a nonprofit that tracks the flow of illicit money, more than $2.3 billion has been laundered through U.S. real estate during the last five years.