Investigation Unveils Corrupt Buyers in Miami’s ‘Secret Shell Game’
A look at the eye-opening report from the Miami Herald
The Miami Herald, in conjunction with 100 global news partners, published a new series based on 11.5 million secret files leaked from inside Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, exposing the “Secret Shell Game” in South Florida’s luxury real-estate world.The year-long investigation exposed many of the previously anonymous foreign buyers to have a criminal and corrupt history, players engendering our luxury condo boom while “pushing home prices far beyond what most locals can afford.” A Miami Herald analysis of the never-before-seen records found 19 foreign nationals creating offshore companies and buying Miami real estate. Of them, eight have been linked to bribery, corruption, embezzlement, tax evasion or other misdeeds in their home countries.
That’s a drop in the ocean of Miami’s luxury market. But Mossack Fonseca is one of many firms that set up offshore companies. And experts say a lack of controls on cash real-estate deals has made Miami a magnet for questionable currency.
Mossack Fonseca has publicly defended its business practices but the evidence is damning. Among the many exposed was Paulo Octavio Alves Pereira, a Brazilian developer and former politician who secretly bought a Bal Harbour condo at the St. Regis for $2.95 million in 2011. He’s currently under indictment for corruption.
The report comes in wake of the Treasury department employing rules requiring title companies to reveal the identities of all-cash buyers in Miami and Manhattan — this includes sales of at least $3 million in New York and $1 million in Miami.
That fancy new condo on South Beach you’re renting might’ve been purchased with “funny money.”
by Josh Baumgard