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Miami’s Luxury Real-estate Boom Due to Money Laundering?

Posted by Staff Reporter on Apr 04, 2016 06:31 AM EDT
Miami Real Estate Continues Streak Of Monthly Sales And Price Increases more big
Construction cranes dot the skyline as work is done to build the $1.05 billion Brickell CityCentre complex on October 25, 2013 in Miami, Florida. The 5.4-million-square-foot mixed-use development will be an open-air design with high-end retail shops, a department store, a number of restaurants, a hotel, condos and office space. As the economic recovery takes hold in Miami there is a boom of construction near the Brickell CityCentre project there are eight residential buildings under construction. (Photo : Getty Images/Joe Raedle)

Miami's luxury real estate company Isaias 21 Property splurged nearly $3 million in cash for an ocean front Bal Harbour condo at the end of 2011. However, it was not clear who really bought the three-bedroom unit at the newly constructed St. Regis, a luxury high-rise that pampered residents with 24-hour room service and personal butlers.

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Miami's luxury real-estate public records revealed that Isaias 21 listed its office as a Miami Beach law headquarters and its manager as Mateus 5 International Holding, an offshore corporation registered in the British Virgins Islands, where corporation heads did not have to reveal their identities.

Miami Herald, in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, had recently obtained a massive trove of confidential information from inside a secret Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca.

Paulo Octávio left his position as governor of Brasília after being accused of corruption in 2011. He reportedly paid $2.95 million for a condominium at the St. Regis in Bal Harbour later that year. The firm specialized in creating offshore shell companies for the globe's richest and most powerful individuals, according to a feature from Miami Herald.

Mossack Fonseca's leaked information offered a glimpse into the tightly guarded realm of luxury real estate and the global economic forces that shaped Miami's skyline.

Fonseca's activities only bolstered an argument analysts and law-enforcement officials had long made. Cash from people associated with wrongdoing abroad was helping to run the gleaming condo market rising on South Florida's waterfront and taking home prices far beyond what most locals could afford.

The leak came as the United States government unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on laundering matters in Miami's elite real-estate market. An analysis of the never-before-seen records discovered that there were 19 foreign nationals who created offshore companies and bought Miami real estate, according to a feature from Panama Papers.

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