This Is Why The NAR Will Never Be Prosecuted For Facilitating Money Laundering

Tyler Durden's picture

Over the past month America's ever vigilant law enforcers have taken to task not one but two foreign (domestic bank lobbies are sufficiently large to make Congress muppets perfectly eager to look the other way as noted previously) banks: HSBC and now Standard Chartered, for money laundering. Yet, when it comes to the true elephant in the room, which is not foreign and is fully domestic, they continue to ignore events such as this one just described by the Wall Street Journal: "A Florida home that originally listed for $60 million has sold for $47 million, a record for a single-family house in Miami-Dade County. The home, in Indian Creek Village, had been on the market since early 2011, when construction was still being completed. The asking price was reduced to $52 million this year." And the punchline: "The identity of the buyer, a foreigner who purchased the home in the name of a U.S.-based limited-liability company, couldn't be learned." In other words a foreigner who may or may not have engaged in massive criminal activity and/or dealt with Iran, Afghanistan, or any other bogeyman du jour at some point in their past, and is using US real estate merely as a money-laundering front perhaps? Sadly, we will never know. Why? As explained before, it is all thanks to the National Association of Realtors - those wonderful people who bring you the existing home sales update every month (with a documented upward bias every single time) - which just so happens is the only organization that actively lobbied for and received an exemption from AML regulation compliance. In other words, unlike HSBC, the NAR is untouchable, even if it were to sell a triplex to Ahmedinejad on West 57th street.

As a reminder, here is where the NAR stands on the issue of its most generous clients possibly being some of the worst criminal known to man, courtesy of Elanus Capital:

Many of you reading this will undoubtedly have spent time in an international bank and been forced to sit through countless hours of “know your client” and AML training. Fascinating to note that the National Association of Realtors lobbied for and received a waiver from such regulation. That’s right, realtors actually went to the U.S. government and said: we want to be able to help foreign business oligarchs and other nefarious business people launder money through the real estate markets of the United States – and prevailed.


Here's their official position:


"NAR supports continued efforts to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism through the regulation of entities using a risk-based analysis. Any risk-based assessment would likely find very little risk of money laundering involving real estate agents or brokers. Regulations that would require real estate agents and brokers to adopt anti-money laundering programs may prove to be burdensome and unnecessary given the existing ML/TF regulations that already apply to United States financial institutions."


Hat’s off to the NAR – that is some serious doublespeak. My translation: We’ll support you as long as we don’t have to support you.

If after skimming the above, readers are still confused what the reason is for the luxury segment of the US housing market continuing to rise in price even as all other segments of the quadruplicate US housing market as explained here languish, we suggest rereading it as many times as necessary.

Some more on where the world's criminal come to launder their cash, with the express permission of the NAR and the US government:

The high-end market in South Florida has picked up in recent months, with a number of sales well above the $10 million mark. The previous county record was broken in March when another home on Indian Creek sold for nearly $40 million to hedge-fund manager Edward S. Lampert, according to local brokers. In May, a South Beach penthouse apartment owned by the family that controls the Birkenstock shoe company sold for $25 million, a record price for an apartment, according to local brokers.



"The market has changed dramatically for the super high end," said Jill Eber, one of the property's Miami-area listing brokers. "These are prices that we've never, ever seen before."

But why does the NAR and the government ignore the fact that some of the biggest marginal buyers are precisely those peope who HSBC and Std Chartered are being punished for transacting with? Why because by laundering their blood money, they are allowing the Fed and Congress to say that "housing has bottomed" and the US economy is now improving.

Readers should now be quite clear why the various segments of the US regulatory and enforcement authority will perpetually turn a blind eye to the one true transgressor when it comes to encouraging money laundering on US soil - the NAR, and its massive lobby - and instead will scapegoat this bank in London, or that bank in Hong Kong.

At least until such time as no readily available scapegoats are available, and the cannibalization begins.

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time2blowitup's picture

Great idea! Let's extend the reach of Big Brother to monitor who is buying luxury homes. Maybe we can start a new goverment agency to handle it! 

Precious's picture

National Association of Racketeers

Pladizow's picture

On what did you think Miami was built?

AlaricBalth's picture

Among the well-known residents on the island are singer Julio Iglesias, Perry Ellis Chairman and CEO George Feldenkreis, automotive dealer and political activist Norman Braman, golfer Raymond Floyd, NFL Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula, TV host Don Francisco, financier Carl Icahn, Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima, Turnberry Associates CEO Jeffrey Soffer, Miami banker Javier Holtz and hedge fund guru Edward Lampert, who has a controlling interest in AutoNation of Fort Lauderdale. Lampert paid $38.4 million for his home.

The buyer is Russian.

Now just stay the hell out of my neighborhood. ;-)

Tippoo Sultan's picture

"I need a man who has powerful friends. I need a million dollars in cash. I need all of those politicians that you carry around in your pocket, like so many nickels and dimes."

-- Virgil Sollozzo, Realtor

IBelieveInMagic's picture

On the bright side, when foreign criminals and politicians buy high end assets in the US, the US then has some leverage on them -- can get them to do as per our bidding else the foreigners asset suddenly gets confiscated. That's how the world works. See how malleable the Greek politicians have been as all their ill gotten wealth hidden away in Switzerland and elsewhere is threatened. Great leverage -- good move!

blindman's picture

miss the old avatar my friend

Sandmann's picture

You have one - it is called IRS

Ragnar24's picture

Or just end the war on drugs, send reinforcements to the front fighting the Fed, and repeal the nonexistent 16th Amendment. A man can dream...

buzzsaw99's picture

drug dealers pay more taxes than warren buffett (the great american)

Amish Hacker's picture

Let me guess: because the former are heavily into coke, and the latter is heavily into Coke.

saycheeeese's picture

well as you should know..... any foreigner should buy asset in the USA tax heaven... using offshore companies and or  a LLP and or a combination of the two.   If you don't...  ... death becomes deatn by taxes for the beneficiaries who are not residents in the USA.  

Now... I believe that the bank through which the money has transited before shall have complied with all KYC rules etc.. so.... I do know that as a normal person nowadays... KYC rules are a pain in the neck of any honest person... but the well connected crooks and banksters always find a way... to make life easier for themselves.

Sandmann's picture

In London there is an exclusive complex of apartments owned by Saudi interests through Offshore Trusts and they evade Property Taxes by having no named persons who can be served.

Despite being owned by some of the richest people in the world, the flats qualify for lower council tax than people living in an average Band D property because Westminster Council has one of the lowest property valuations in the country.

Indeed, with many of the buyers never intending to live at the address, it was reported last year that just nine out of the 62 flats sold in One Hyde Park - the world's most expensive residential block - had been registered for council tax. Council records revealed last year that only four owners in the block were paying the full council tax of £755.60 a year, plus £619.64 to the Greater London Authority.

A further five were reported to be paying the 50 per cent discounted council tax owed on a second home, making a considerable saving that will no doubt boost their already impressive wealth.


CrashisOptimistic's picture

In about 6 months this opaque LLC will sell the house to another opaque LLC for $10 million more than they paid.

Then that LLC will sell to another for another $10 million extra.

And so on, and so on.

In 10 years we'll learn all the LLCs were created by NAR.

Peter Pan's picture

This is more an example of council incompetence rather than buyer evasion. All they need to do is state that unless a person is nominated and his address supplied, then rates will be levied and unaid levies will accumulate against the property with a 100% interest charge if not paid. Furthermore council will be entitles to put a caveat on the property.

Peter Pan's picture

Even though I agree that the exemption given to the NAR seems hypocritical, the rational may well be two fold. Firstly, America needs to support real estate. Secondly, the destination of the money is real estate and not guns and gives law enfrcement a means of tracking the buyer and hs activities.

The next step of course will be to sell a whole lot of cheap housing to retired Chinese workers who cannot afford an apartment in any of the ghost cities built by the Chinese.

Who would have thought that one day you could buy a house for a lot less in the USA than an apartment in China.

island's picture

Huh?  "America needs to support real estate"?  You must be in the FIRE industry, or a friggin politician.  What America needs is to DEFLATE the bullshit phantom financial bubble and let prices DEFLATE to where they match the reality of incomes for the 99%. 

Peter Pan's picture

I would agree with you had it not been for the fact that the houses these crooks buy will always be out of the average man's reach and hence irrelevant to housing affodability. I am not in the FIRE industry and if you read my opening words, I did say the exemption was hypocritical.

TN Jed's picture

Double huh?  So proping up unaffordable housing is ok because only fraudulent money is used to support it?  Really?  Carry on everyone, Peter Pan says fraud doesn't effect anything; at least not in Never Never Land.

Blankenstein's picture

"Firstly, America needs to support real estate. "

Why?  So prices can be driven up again to even more unaffordable levels and create another bubble and subsequent burst?  So the real whores can keep getting 6% to tell you the den has berber carpet?  So the mortgage/banking industry can skim off all their fees?  

Island is right.  Homes need to match the reality of incomes of the 99%. At least in the Chicago area, decent homes in okay areas are still out of line with incomes.  Many of the recent buyers (along with the bubble years buyers) are feeding some big mortgages and property tax bills.  They fill these homes they paid 300k - 600k for, with cheap Chinese furniture and goods.  This lack of spending money beyond mortgage, taxes and food is evidenced in the local retail activity.  Quite a few stores have gone out and if they are replaced, it is with discount retailers, second hand stores, etc.  Also, the traffic in the stores and restaurants is noticeably down from 5 years ago.  



bob_dabolina's picture

There is no more law.

I have come to peace with this.

When are congressman and senators going to release their tax returns?

It's all one big joke and we are the punchline.

island's picture

Well I agree with you that we are the suckers on this stinking sinking ship. 

What I want to know is how you came to peace with it?

In the words of Howard Beale: "I'm mad as hell..."


bob_dabolina's picture

What I want to know is how you came to peace with it?


OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture


but no I don't think realtors can be held responsible for sources of funds and KYC.

engineertheeconomy's picture

How do you come to peace with it?

Set aside the Xanax...

The war between Good and Evil is being fought deep inside peoples minds

Cops Minds

Soldier's minds

Parent's minds

Childrens minds

Teachers minds

and those not withstanding

I find peace in speaking the TRUTH to those minds

using Logic

and the process of deduction

everywhere I go

every day


Tippoo Sultan's picture

Savor the peace.

Jameson 12-Year Old.

Peter Pan's picture

Release their tax retuns?
What makes you so sure that all "income" has been declared?
I like and agree with your punchline though.

bob_dabolina's picture

I agree 100%

Am I the only one that thought it ODD AS FUCK Nancy Pelosi of alllllllllllllllll people came out against the media regarding Mitt Romney's tax returns?

She said something along the lines of...hey media, why don't YOU release YOUR tax returns. She doesn't want her tax returns to be vetted anymore than the rest of those crooks, because at the end of the day 100% of them will have numbers that don't add up. Not that it should really matter as our own chief tax collector (Tim Geithner) "mistakenly" didn't pay his taxes and got away with it due to not understanding how Turbotax works.

Lemme tell yall something. Get caught going through the intersection with a camera when the light turns from yellow to red. They will have that ticket in the mail quick as ever with you photographed 6 ways from Sunday going through that light. Better put that $500 check in the mail before your license gets suspended.

Overfed's picture

"There is no more law"  Unless it's one of the 99% that's fuckin' up. In which case be prepared to feel the full force of the law. Prosecuted by a lawyer with unlimited funds and resources, and a political axe to grind.

PeaceLover's picture

We should all ask for tax returns.. for all politicians and there spouses.
In fact if you think about it.. Its a no brainier.

We the people if we give someone god status, we shouldn't expect anything less from the privileged few.




sitenine's picture

Just more 'unintended consequences' is all. TPTB will not stop anything that 'helps' the housing 'recovery'. If that means allowing 'dirty' money to drive up prices, so be it. Isn't it clear yet, that 'law' is meaningless in the war on depreciation? Suspension of mark to market, Fed purchases of MBS, etc, are also skirting common sense and the rule of free markets, so why act surprised?

How do you fix FUBAR anyway?

SmittyinLA's picture

"the Source" of the DOJ money laundering investigation into Romney supporter Sheldon Adelson/Sands Casino money laundering op is the head of the Mexican mafia's raw meth import supply cartel Ye Gon.


Ye Gon, he was captured in Maryland of all places in 2007, Mr Gon was the owner of that house the Mexican federales found with litereally tones of hundred dollar bills, (over $140 million in cash) in 2007.

Mexico asked for his extradition waaay back in 2007-and every year since, we keep saying "ya no problemo" and then don't turn him over or prosecute him (Gon is prosecutable under RICO, and could be tried for every crime of the Mexican mafia as their chief meth supplier).  

I wonder how many bank and accounts Mr Gon used when transfering money to the casinos that he played at?

I winder if any other non-Romney supporting Casinos are being investigated?

I wonder if those banks knew where the cash they transferred to the Sands Casino came from?

Or what other transfers Mr Gon made, and to whom? 

magpie's picture

Wow, not enough Faster Ferocity already.

Lumberjack's picture

Dr. Mark Lee Levine - International Real Estate Brokers

He is the National Association of Realtors' Liaison to Israel. Mark has been selected as one of the outstanding educators in America and holds a collection of ...



The Count's picture

Our entire system is so fucking corrupt it isn't even comical anymore.

mkhs's picture

Yeah.  Pfizaer was just fined $60 million for bribery.  So, in effect, Pfizer pays the Federal govt. a bribe becasuse the Fed's caught it bribing foriegners. 

azzhatter's picture

You can usually spot the ones that Arabs buy within a few months after taking possesion. A lot of really tacky statues and shit all over. A lot of Miami high end is bought up by corrupt South American politicians, banana republics relocating to another banana republic.

BTW- the Rosie O'donnell joint on Star Island was the Scarface house from the movie, too bad she wasn't home when the shit went down

Lost Wages's picture

The joke will be on them when Florida is buried underwater in a few years.

11b40's picture

Once again, we are distracted from the real crime.

Since the SCOTUS declared that corporations were the same as people, and pepole have a right to buy politicians by giving them as much money as it takes, ergo corporations can buy politicians, too.

So, if you are Russian, or Chinese, or Saudi, or whatever, just dummy up a corporation, and viola, you, too, can buy your own genuine Congress Critter.  I mean, why worry about a freaking house when you can buy a government.  For the price of one of these homes, you can buy a pocket full of politicos.  Just one or 2 favorable pieces of legislation, and you get a much bigger ROI.  Just sayin'.

Overfed's picture

The DEA and FBI are also exempt from AML rules, too. I bet Federal law enforcement probably launders more $$ for the drug cartels than the NAR. It's a fuckin' sick joke.

Offthebeach's picture

Muppets, now's a good time to buy!

Northeaster's picture

The States of Nevada and Wyoming (were working on fixing) do not ask questions in their SOS filings, making them the "go to" states for shell companies.

How? It's easy, and I'm sure anyone that worked or works in corporate law can attest. I did a five entity based "creation" with the clients name spelled backwards five times with Roman Numerals to differentiate the shell companies. I dissolved them shortly after, but who knew? It's easy, and the drones at the state SOS level don't ask too many questions, if any at all, as long as you have the check and proper signatures.

Is this story a surprise? Like so many things gone wrong, no.

blindman's picture

invert all the words and labels,
read it all backwards and then ....
you can see where the bread is buttered,
that it is buttered with the grease from
the rest room drain pipe is another
issue no one cares to dwell on. decorum
still counts for something i guess?
The Staple Singers-People Get Ready

Silver Surfer 1985's picture

As a member of the esteemed (tounge in cheek) NAR, I questioned them by e-mail and phone why hadn't they made Larry Yun redundant last year when it was reported that his models for reporting were 'skewed' towards the optimistic side for not just one or two years, but several years. They did respond with a standard, bureaucratic form-type response, but obviously done nothing regarding Larry 'the magnificent' 's flawless modeling techniques and continued to employ the putz. They are a national embarrassmet and disgrace! Thanks Tyler(s)!

I_Am_'s picture

Oh wow ......"the burdensome....." argument was also used by JP Morgan lawyers for a quash on sub poenas in the PFG matter.

Can I have my house for free it is burdensome to comply with the fine print