Tuesday, February 02, 2016

President of American Bar Association gets pasted on CBS 60 Minutes for trolling at the edge of laws prohibiting inflows of anonymous foreign cash ... by gimleteye

Here is another perspective. Want to know the original cause of traffic chaos in Miami-Dade County? It is not what you think.

A few weeks ago, the US Department of Treasury announced a trial program for Miami and Manhattan requiring the disclosure of identities behind all real estate transactions, especially limited liability corporations or LLCs. The move by the Obama administration was greeted with scarcely a note, except perhaps its opponents' quiet satisfaction that the transparency requirements sunsets in only a few months.

LLCs are legal corporate entities that shield the identity of investors and controlling interests. For foreign and domestic investors -- and criminals -- the use of LLCs in the United States has exploded. On 60 Minutes, broadcast last Sunday, an investigation disclosed that in 2015 more than 2 million LLCs were created. Impressive. But what's the link to traffic chaos?

Pull on the loose threads of traffic chaos, and you will come to investors and land speculators who hide their real identities through corporate shells and limited liability corporations.

To conceal identities and sources of foreign capital, not only shields flight capital into the United States -- and domestic criminal behavior -- it also empowers the lobbying class that dominates campaign fundraising practices, and through influence at the local, state and federal levels, the disbursement of funds and of priorities that lead to massive shifting of growth costs to taxpayers.

In other space, I've called the cause; growth-at-any-cost. The same boosterism embraced by successive generations of downtown lawyers, Chambers of Commerce, the Latin Builders Association and affiliated supply chains. Traffic chaos didn't happen by accident. It is the literal manifestation of political revolving doors, between regulators and regulated and the posse of land use consultants, traffic engineers, and "planners" who storm the public interest.

The January 31 segment on CBS 60 Minutes is astounding. It shows some of America's VIP lawyers trolling at the edge of the law with promises of anonymity for foreign investors. If these were bankers, their conduct would be illegal. Because they are lawyers -- and because lawyers wrote the laws of corporate identity -- things are "looser". It is an amazing segment (and followed by one of our favorite subjects, the melting ice sheet in Greenland).

Watch Anonymous, Inc. Think about the land owned outside Miami-Dade's Urban Development Boundary, and how much easier it would be for good policies to emerge protecting the built landscape and the environment, if only we knew exactly who the opponents were.

A key piece of leveling the playing field is disclosure of investors whose profit motives shift costs to taxpayers. Like traffic chaos.

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Anonymous said...

On lawyers, Shakespeare had it right.

Anonymous said...

A memorable "gotcha" journalism moment.. I loved the fat bald guy bragging the lawyer class are the county's elite all the while trolling for dirty money,,..

.. So on some level the whole thing is a ethical fig leaf.. The US wants to attract foreign investment and claim the moral high ground.yet we make the laws so lose any 2 bit lawyer can circumvent them with impunity.. Then like Captain Renault in Casablanca we say we're SHOCKED to find there is money laundering going on.

I know several Realtors who are not happy about about the future of Miami's luxury market...but I have every confidence that if investors can come up with such a creative scams as a collateral death obligations they'll certainly figure out away to structure home financing to get around cash sales disclosure laws..