Why financial criminals use real estate to launder money

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August 10 2018

Special council Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election has led to multiple charges of financial crimes for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. As the prosecution laid out in the ongoing trial this week, Manafort’s alleged criminal activity followed a common playbook—money laundering through real estate.

Manafort is accused of laundering money he made while advising a pro-Russian regime in Ukraine by buying and renovating properties in the Brooklyn and Manhattan boroughs of New York City, the Hamptons, and Virginia. Real estate is often the preferred destination for a financial criminal’s ill-gotten gains for the same reason real estate is attractive to any investor: Real estate prices are generally stable and will appreciate over time.