The impact of beneficial ownership transparency on illicit purchases of US property

In 2016, the US government started requiring that corporate all-cash buyers of residential real estate declare their beneficial owners. In this working paper, we analyze the effectiveness of the policy using data from Zillow on millions of transactions. Our results show the reform had no deterrent effect on corporate all-cash purchases in the 20 targeted counties.

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The impact of beneficial ownership transparency on illicit purchases of US property

In 2016, the US government started requiring that corporate all-cash buyers of residential real estate declare their beneficial owners. In this working paper, we analyze the effectiveness of the policy using data from Zillow on millions of transactions. Our results show the reform had no deterrent effect on corporate all-cash purchases in the 20 targeted counties.

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Money laundering risks in private investment funds

Trillions of dollars are invested worldwide in private investment funds (PIFs), which include hedge funds, private equity, venture capital and other pooled vehicles. Yet in most countries, and in the US in particular, these funds are subject to even weaker anti-money laundering checks than other types of legal entities, including shell companies.

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Real estate markets open to criminals and the corrupt

Real estate offers kleptocrats and other criminals an easy, opaque asset class to launder their ill-gotten gains. Moreover, when real estate is used as a safe haven for the proceeds from criminal activity, access to housing is reduced and ordinary residents struggle to afford properties for their family or business.

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Kleptocrats gaining influence through philanthropy

Charitable donations can be an instrument for promoting foreign oligarchs' own political agendas, facilitating access to decision-makers, polishing tarnished reputations and helping push back against scrutiny and negative publicity.

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Misuse of federal COVID-19 relief funds

Insufficient guardrails on trillions of dollars in federal stimulus spending to support workers and small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed long-term issues in American politics to precipitate a short-term crisis.

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Private Investment Funds Real Estate Reputation Laundering COVID-19 Relief

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