The proportion of New York City residences over $5 million whose buyers were shielded by shell corporations climbed to a whopping 54 percent in 2014. The trend has allowed vast sums of foreign money to flow in unchecked, including money suspected to belong to corrupt foreign officials who could be hiding assets for tax or other purposes.
The New York Times spent a year tracing the hidden identities of LLC buyers in Related Companies’ and AREA Property Partners’ Time Warner Center, and found a growing number of wealthy foreigners are buying the condos, at least 16 of whom have been the subject of governmental inquiries for reasons ranging from environmental crimes to financial fraud.
Buyers include Vitaly Malkin, a former Russian senator and banker who has been barred from entering Canada because of suspected connections to organized crime, Dimitrios Contominas, a Greek businessman who was arrested in Greece last year as part of a corruption sweep, and Indian mining magnate Anil Agarwal, whose company was fined for polluting a river in Zambia that sickened area residents.
“The building doesn’t know where the money is coming from. We’re not interested,”’ said Rudy Tauscher, a former manager of the condos at Time Warner.