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Analysis Interpretation of the news based on evidence, including data, as well as anticipating how events might unfold based on past events How money laundering works in real estate by Philip Bump by Philip Bump Email the author January 4 Email the author Former FBI director Robert SMueller III, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, on Capitol Hill on June 21, 2017(Andrew Harnik/AP) If Michael Wolff’s reporting is to be believed, Stephen KBannon’s assessment of the most dangerous threat posed by special counsel Robert SMueller III’s investigation is not the one you might have assumed“You realize where this is going,” Bannon reportedly told Wolff“This is all about money launderingMueller chose Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guyTheir path to f—ing Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner… It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner s—-.” Two quick explanationsWeissmann refers to Andrew WeissmannHe was one of Mueller’s early hires, although not the first, and does have a lot of experience prosecuting financial crimesDeutsche Bank is a German financial institution that has been an apparent focus of federal prosecutors, although not necessarily by Mueller’s team, because of a loan of more than a quarter-billion dollars issued to Kushner’s firm a month before the 2016 electionBannon’s argument is that Mueller’s team is focused not on Russian meddling but on unearthing money laundering by Manafort, Donald Trump Jrand Kushner that can then be used as leverage against TrumpManafort already faces money-laundering charges from MuellerThose charges may involve property purchased by Manafort in New York and Virginia through shell companies based in CyprusReal estate, it seems, is central to the charge Bannon made, given the involvement of Kushner and Trump Jrin the industryIn light of that, we contacted Chris Quick, a retired FBI special agent who specialized in financial crimes and now runs a private investigative firm in South CarolinaHe walked us through how money laundering works in the real-estate industry and how others may be implicated in that criminal activity“With any money laundering, you’re trying to make the illegally gotten money look legitimate,” Quick said“So in the simplest terms, if you have real estate, you’re going to buy a piece of property with the illegal funds, hang on to it — or have rental income from it, so that rental income is legitimate — and eventually when you sell the real estate, you get your proceeds out of it and by all accounts it appears to be a legitimate transaction.” According to U.Slaw, any financial transaction of more than $10,000 involving illegal funds counts as money launderingHow do you buy the property in the first place without raising eyebrows? One way is to move the money for those properties into shell companies, Quick said“What they’re hoping is that an investigator or someone who’s digging around doesn’t investigate or dig around into where that money came from for that” company, he saidMost real estate agents have a limited ability to look into the legitimacy of a corporate entity, which makes it easier for the person hoping to launder the money to get away with itEven investigators can have a difficult time tracing money when it comes from countries such as Switzerland (where there are strict bank secrecy laws) or the Cayman IslandsMoney coming in from a foreign corporate entity, though, also can serve as a red flag to investigatorsAnother is someone who buys a property and then quickly sells itOthers are how the company is formed — Delaware corporations add a level of opacity, too — or who is listed as being involved in the businessManafort, Mueller’s team alleges, was involved in laundering money directlyBut others who knowingly facilitate money laundering could also be held criminally liable“If the bank knew or suspected that something was awry or suspicious with the individual or the company” seeking to make a real-estate transaction, Quick said, “they could be held culpable.” That failure by the bank, he explained, could include “looking the other way or not scrutinizing the paperwork” that was offered for the transaction(It’s worth noting that in January 2017, Deutsche Bank settled with U.Sregulators after having helped Russian investors move $10 billion out of Russia.) The charges faced by a bank involved in a deal to launder money through real estate would be related to conspiracySame holds for a real-estate agent who knew that a deal was being made with illegal fundsSomeone who knowingly sold a property to someone who planned to use the property to launder those funds could be indicted as a conspiratorThat’s the Bannon theory, it seemsTrump Jrand Kushner could be implicated by Mueller in money laundering either directly or as complicit agents and then leveraged against Trump in some wayThis is not necessarily outside the purview of Mueller’s Russia investigationIn July, Trump was asked by Maggie Haberman of the New York Times whether investigations into his personal finances were a “breach” of Mueller’s mandate to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election“I would say yes,” Trump replied“By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows?” That was a more modest description of his business’s overlap with Russian partners than Trump Jrhad offered in 2008“In terms of high-end product influx into the U.S., Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets, say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York,” he said of the Trump Organization’s real estate ventures“We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” (function(){TWP=window.TWP||{};TWP.Features=TWP.Features||{};TWP.Features.Ad=TWP.Features.Ad||{};TWP.Features.Ad.flexAd={};TWP.Features.Ad.flexAd.sticky=true})(); Most Read Politics 1 Trump, Gardner strike deal on legalized marijuana, ending standoff over Justice nominees 2 RNC deputy finance chair steps down after admitting Trump’s lawyer negotiated settlement between him and pregnant Playboy model 3 Trump issues pardon to ‘Scooter’ Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney 4 Whatever happened to Trump neckties? They’re overSo is most of Trump’s merchandising empire 5 ‘Untruthful slime ball’: Trump blasts Comey as details emerge from scathing book Opinion As Trump rages at Comey, a new poll shows his lies are failing Opinion Mueller doesn’t need to talk to Trump The story must be toldSubscribe to The Washington Post Try 1 month for $1 (function(){TWP=window.TWP||{};TWP.Features=TWP.Features||{};TWP.Features.Ad=TWP.Features.Ad||{};TWP.Features.Ad.flexAd3={};TWP.Features.Ad.flexAd3.sticky=true})(); .wpv-hidden{display:none}.posttv-sticky-player-video.wpv-hidden{visibility:hidden !important;display:block} Close Now Playing { "modal-adblock_v2-controlvar": { "async": true, "condition": { "func": "abtest", "params": ["modal-adblock_v2", "controlvar"] }, "action": { "func": "loadFeature", "params": [ { "featureConfigID": "drawbridge/base" }, { "customFields": { "type": "modal", "conversionType": "adblocker", "theme": "blueLeft", "header": "We noticed you’re blocking ads.", "body": "", "subHeader": "Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blockerOr purchase a subscription for unlimited access to real news you can count on.", "buttonOneTxt": "Unblock ads", "buttonOneSubText": "", "buttonOneURL": "", "buttonTwoTxt":"Subscribe", "buttonTwoURL" : "", "buttonTwoStyle": "button", "newsletterName": "adblocker", "template": "drawbridge-no-sub", "initiative": "adblocker", "promoId": "none", "image": "", "imageSmall": "" } } ] } }, "modal-adblock_v2-var1": { "async": true, "condition": { "func": "abtest", "params": ["modal-adblock_v2", "var1"] }, "action": { "func": "loadFeature", "params": [ { "featureConfigID": "drawbridge/base" }, { "customFields": { "type": "modal", "conversionType": "adblocker", "theme": "blueLeft", "header": "We noticed you’re blocking ads.", "body": "", "subHeader": "Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blockerOr purchase a subscription for unlimited access to real news you can count on.", "buttonOneTxt": "Subscribe now", "buttonOneSubText": "Only $1 for the first 4 weeks", "buttonOneURL": "", "buttonTwoTxt":"Unblock ads", "buttonTwoURL" : "", "buttonTwoStyle": "button", "newsletterName": "adblocker", "template": "drawbridge-no-sub", "initiative": "adblocker", "promoId": "none", "image": "", "imageSmall": "" } } ] } }, "modal-adblock_v2-var2": { "async": true, "condition": { "func": "abtest", "params": ["modal-adblock_v2", "var2"] }, "action": { "func": "loadFeature", "params": [ { "featureConfigID": "drawbridge/base" }, { "customFields": { "type": "modal", "conversionType": "adblocker", "theme": "blueLeft", "header": "We noticed you’re blocking ads.", "body": "", "subHeader": "Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blockerOr purchase a subscription for unlimited access to real news you can count on.", "buttonOneTxt": "Subscribe now", "buttonOneSubText": "Only $1 for the first 4 weeks", "buttonOneURL": "", "buttonTwoTxt":"Unblock ads", "buttonTwoURL" : "", "buttonTwoStyle": "underlined", "newsletterName": "adblocker", "template": "drawbridge-no-sub", "initiative": "adblocker", "promoId": "none", "image": "", "imageSmall": "" } } ] } }, "modal-adblock_v2-var3": { "async": true, "condition": { "func": "abtest", "params": ["modal-adblock_v2", "var3"] }, "action": { "func": "loadFeature", "params": [ { "featureConfigID": "drawbridge/base" }, { "customFields": { "type": "modal", "conversionType": "adblocker", "theme": "blueLeft", "header": "We noticed you’re blocking ads.", "body": "", "subHeader": "Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blockerOr purchase a subscription for unlimited access to real news you can count on.", "buttonOneTxt": "See subscription plans", "buttonOneSubText": "", "buttonOneURL": "", "buttonTwoTxt":"Learn how to unblock ads", "buttonTwoURL" : "", "buttonTwoStyle": "underlined", "newsletterName": "adblocker", "template": "drawbridge-no-sub", "initiative": "adblocker", "promoId": "none", "image": "", "imageSmall": "" } } ] } } } try{if(wp_meta_data){if(!wp_meta_data.clavis)wp_meta_data.clavis={};(function(){var clavisAuxs=[];var clavisAuxNames=[];var clavisKeywords=[];var clavisTopics=[];var clavisTopicsDFP=[];clavisAuxs.push("5k4");clavisAuxNames.push("China_HongKong Exclusion 12-12-14");clavisAuxs.push("14h");clavisAuxNames.push("Investing Gurus 2.12.15");clavisAuxs.push("k9i");clavisAuxNames.push("Retirement Planners 2.12.15");clavisAuxs.push("o95");clavisAuxNames.push("Copy of Investing Gurus 2.12.15");clavisAuxs.push("eqw"); 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