money laundering

Posted by Ellen

Money laundering is one of those things, we're told, that's happening all over and all the time. Some countries make it easy for, say, drug traffickers to disguise the source of their riches, either through an opaque banking system, as in Switzerland, a financial sector rotten with greasy palms, as in the Cayman Islands, or an overheated real estate market, as in the business model associated with Donald Trump. Or so we're told.

Latin American gangsters, Russian mobsters, all sorts of bad guys from all over can create shell corporations in Delaware that invest in, say, condos in Trump properties, in Manhattan, Panama, Azerbaijan, wherever. If a real estate developer undertakes careful investigation ((extreme vetting?), then fake corporations associated with ill-gotten gains may be blocked from such purchases. But the kind of developer that doesn't really care . . . 

"It's possible," said Trump last summer, in a conversation about how he really, really didn't want Mueller to look into his finances. "I mean, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows?"