The Real Deal New York

New Russia sanctions bill targets LLCs in real estate, again

Senators introduce harsher version of bill that failed to pass last year
February 15, 2019 02:30PM

From left: Lindsey Graham, Bob Menendez, and the Foreign Security Council, Take 2 (Credit: Getty Images, Pixabay, and Wikipedia)

The “sanctions bill from hell” is back from the dead.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez (NJ) on Wednesday introduced a tougher version of last year’s “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act,” and once again, the bill includes a provision that targets people using limited liability companies for high-priced real estate transactions nationwide, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Treasury Department’s Geographic Targeting Orders, which currently apply to a dozen major metropolitan areas including New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago, require title insurance companies to disclose beneficial owners of anonymous LLC’s used to purchase real estate with cash.

The sanctions bill would expand this program nationwide and make it permanent.

The U.S. is now the world’s second largest tax haven behind Switzerland, as the anonymity of LLCs and the stability of U.S. real estate markets have made the country attractive to money launderers worldwide.

“U.S. real estate is a great place to stash dirty money,” Clark Gascoigne of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition told the Journal.

The prospects of this beefed-up version of the sanctions bill are unclear. Unlike last year, it would now have to pass a Democratic-controlled House before reaching President Trump’s desk. Previous sanctions against Russian citizens have already led to the seizure of real estate in New York City.

Among its many provisions, the bill would also require a report on Vladimir Putin’s net worth and assets, which some have claimed is worth over $200 billion, much of it stashed in the West. [WSJ] — Kevin Sun