US Treasury Dept wants to know which offshore crimelords are buying all those NYC and Miami penthouses

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US Treasury Dept just woke up to this, it’s been going on for decades.


If it wasn’t going to piss off a bunch of Tory party donors, this could actually work out ok for the government, as once they’ve decided that a property belongs to a “bad” person, they can confiscate it, and sell it off a second time, so the UK government gets another cut of sales tax, the estate agents get another commission, and they all get to say they’re cutting down on corruption.
Of course, if you’re the crimelord who’s just had their swanky London pad confiscated, you’d be pretty pissed off, but I’m sure a donation to the right politician will sort everything out.


Wouldn’t the deeds be on file at the local courthouse? I mean, you can hide things with holding companies, but you have to leave a paper trail in order to prove ownership. If they don’t have that, then let’s go get some free mansions!

They use layers of shell companies, typically offshore.

The owner of record will be something like " Merchant Partnership IV", which is registered in Bermuda and has a drop box in the Maldives as the mailing address.

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um, Cory,

who do you think builds the cash-laundering boxes in the sky? The Oligarchs themselves?

[unkind, pointless ad hominem deleted]

these are absentee pilferers aren’t primarily why London property values are so high.

The property values are so high because fifity years ago London chose to limit it’s population at about seven million, via a Green Belt. It worked so well that now way more the seven million people want to live in London , and one has to allocate those spots somehow. Property prices aren’t a terrible way to do that.

The problem in San Francisco is of roughly the same character, and gets worse as one one goes south down the peninsula, with Atherton being the ground-zero of exclusionary land use policies.

Notice the land use policies where you ending up, Cory: Developers have a lot more leeway to build whatever they think they can sell. LA’s not cheap, but way cheaper than London or SF.

What makes you think I rented?

Um, a bad memory?

I though you had stated this in a past post.

My apologies if I am mistaken.

Add Vancouver to the list.

I think the link to the post is an exception to Betteridge’s law.

so, only rich people deserve to live where they want?

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Allow me to rephrase that:

Only privileged people get to do what they want.

This is true of any society. Many societies allocate privilege via birth: if your parents are privileged, then by the rules of your society, you are privileged. Think of the Brahmin Caste in Hindu culture, for example.

There have been other approaches. In the Soviet Union, those with high political standing got to live where ever they wanted. Other societies feted certain types of killers aka “Great Warriors.”

By design, London has a fixed amount of area, and by law, adding to housing stock is difficult. This has resulted in a city where more people want to live than can be accommodated. Bully for the Brits!

But those scarce spots have to be allocated, somehow. There are going to be losers. period.

Setting up the system so that at least some of the winners are chosen on the ability to inject economic resources into the ecosystem is not necessarily a horrible solution: there are worse ways.

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We live in a mass society and all of our tax dollars (or in this case Londoners/the British public) go to maintain city infrastructure. Those with means shouldn’t be the only ones with access to it, because that’s essentially appropriation of public goods for an elite few. I’m actually not okay with that.


I appreciate your point. Benefits should be commensurate with contributions – where “contribution” encompasses much more than mere money.

But I don’t understand your point. Those absentee oligarchs aren’t making the Tube more crowded. A tiny fraction of M25 traffic is caused by flight capital minions.

Indeed, those who pay for the most expensive properties do pay the most towards the general good: Stamp Tax is 3%. I have no idea if that is an appropriate level of taxation, but those able to pay more ARE paying more for city infrastructure.

Importantly, you’ve yet to state an alternative.

The simple economic fact is that considerably more humans want to live in London than London’s current social contract is willing to accommodate. So what is your proposed alternative for deciding who gets to live where?

While there is a shortage of space, all that space shouldn’t be bought up by people who don’t even live there. There seems to be an issue (and I’d guess this is probably true in other major cities, especially NYC and San Fran) of housing being bought up by people who have no intention of living there. They do that and it helps to drive up the cost of living. What do you think is going to happen when the people who actually make a city livable (the retail workers, the city employees, taxi drivers, waiters, waitresses, etc) can’t afford to live in London at all (I’m sure that’s probably already true)? The city should underwrite a fair amount of affordable housing. Will everyone be able to live there? No, but acknowledging that people who aren’t rich are actually human beings, too, with wants and needs, like jobs, many of which are in London, should be part and parcel of what a state does in regards to the social contract. The point of a state shouldn’t be just to facilitate expropriation of wealth from the poor to the wealthy, but to provide services for everyone, not just those who can afford it.

This is about housing, not the tube. They are making it less likely that a working or middle class person can live in the city, near to work.

And it impacts them far less than it does your average bloke, yeah?


There’s loads of affordable housing in London…

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No, actually, no they shouldn’t. I’m a taxpaying person with (currently) no need for medical services other than a regular checkup. The gentleman who just walked into the coffee shop I’m writing from made several statements that would easily lead someone to think he has some mental disease and is in dire need of treatment (a postulation that is backed up by the baristas as well). While he holds no job, is homeless, and is not currently “contributing” to the state (monetarily or otherwise), I’m of the view that he needs assistance with the things I mentioned (housing, medical care, the potential of work). All of which is to say that benefits should not be tied to how much you contribute of anything (although I’m okay with exceptions to that–Medal of Honor awardees get a stiped for life, for instance).

I much prefer the saying, “from each according to her ability, to each according to her need.”

...Quirky and Full of character...

For under a million euros? SOLD!


The idea of people only being able to “take out” what they “put in” always slays me… I guess babies born with cancer are SOL or really any child that needs medical care… my mind always boggles.


Shoot, that used to be one of my favorite public toilets.

New York City property prices have skyrocketed due to artificial inflation of the market, mostly by outside money propping up a luxury market. Surrounding areas and suburbs (Northern NJ, Long Island and Westchester) were already hit by the housing bubble of 2008 and have returned to something resembling a market recognizing actual supply and demand after seeing massive decreases in value and equity.

New York City insulated itself from the housing crash by keeping failing properties off the market. Restricting supply artificially and at the expense of the majority of its residents. Foreclosures have a five year + wait before being heard, banks are far more willing to drag their heels in removing people from properties in default since they know how difficult it is to recoup their losses on sales. Plus new construction is almost entirely to cater to a luxury market (of people who largely don’t live in the city). Driving people who earn their money for a living, outwards towards Brooklyn, Queens and Jersey City causing mini-housing bubbles there and running into issues where existing working/middle class neighborhoods are displaced by gentrification.

Those absentee oligarchs ARE making the tube (and subways, as well as all forms of public transportation) more crowded because they are forcing working people further and further out of the city centers. In New York City they are not contributing much to the infrastructure due to ridiculously low property taxes and city revenue largely based on local income taxes.