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And experts say a lack of controls on cash real-estate deals has made Miami a magnet for questionable currency.“The guys who want to clean up dirty money are always going to try to penetrate the system at its weakest spot,” said Joe Kilmer, a former Drug Enforcement Administration special agent.
In Miami-Dade, the rules apply to homes sold for $1 million or more.Paulo Octávio was indicted on corruption charges in 2012.He did not agree to a request for comment from the Miami Herald, relayed through Julio Barbosa, the lawyer who handled the dealings with MF, although he did speak with the Brazilian news media in advance of publication and provide tax records showing his dealings were properly reported.In an email, Mossack Fonseca spokesman Carlos Sousa defended its business practices: “Our firm, like many firms, provides worldwide registered agent services for our professional clients (e.g., lawyers, banks, and trusts) who are intermediaries.As a registered agent we merely help incorporate companies, and before we agree to work with a client in any way, we conduct a thorough due-diligence process, one that in every case meets and quite often exceeds all relevant local rules, regulations and standards to which we and others are bound.” Mossack Fonseca also said that its Brazilian office was a franchise, and that the Panama law firm, which practices only in Panama, “is being erroneously implicated in issues for which it has no responsibility.” You can read MF’s full response on Miami The leak has been dubbed the “Panama Papers.” Mossack Fonseca specializes in creating offshore shell companies for the world’s richest and most powerful people.
The firm’s leaked records offer a glimpse into the tightly guarded world of high-end South Florida real estate and the global economic forces reshaping Miami’s skyline. government unleashes an unprecedented crackdown on money laundering in Miami’s luxury real-estate market. A registry revealing Mateus 5’s true owner: Paulo Octávio Alves Pereira, a Brazilian developer and politician now under indictment for corruption in his home country.
In late 2009, Octávio was serving as the vice governor of the capital state of Brasília when federal police filmed his boss, the governor, accepting a thick stack of bills. Other tapes caught their associates stuffing pockets, bags and even their socks with cash. In Miami, secretive buyers often purchase expensive homes using opaque legal entities such as offshore companies, trusts and limited liability corporations.
Offshore companies are legal as long as the companies declare their assets and pay taxes. Treasury Department is so concerned about criminals laundering dirty money through Miami-Dade County real estate that in March it started tracking the kind of transaction most vulnerable to manipulation: shell companies buying homes for at least $1 million using cash.
It revived the construction, real-estate and tourism industries after the Great Recession.
Foreign nationals bought nearly $6.1 billion worth of homes in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties last year, more than a third of all local home spending, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. Mauricio Cohen Assor and Leon Cohen-Levy, a Miami Beach father-and-son duo convicted of a $49 million tax fraud in 2011, used Mossack Fonseca offshores to hide assets.
At the end of 2011, a company called Isaias 21 Property paid nearly $3 million — in cash — for an oceanfront Bal Harbour condo.