WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to combat and deter money laundering in the U.S. residential real estate sector by increasing transparency.
The proposed rule would require certain professionals involved in real estate closings and settlements to report information to FinCEN about non-financed transfers of residential real estate to legal entities or trusts. FinCEN’s proposal is tailored to target residential real estate transfers considered to be high-risk for money laundering, while minimizing potential business burden, and it would not require reporting of transfers made to individuals.
“Illicit actors are exploiting the U.S. residential real estate market to launder and hide the proceeds of serious crimes with anonymity, while law-abiding Americans bear the cost of inflated housing prices,” said FinCEN Director Andrea Gacki. “Today marks an important step toward not only curbing abuse of the U.S. residential real estate sector, but safeguarding our economic and national security.”
The proposed rule describes the circumstances in which a report would be filed; who would file a report; what information would need to be provided, including information about the beneficial owners of the legal entities and trusts; and when a report about the transaction would be due. Data from the reports would assist the Department of the Treasury and its law enforcement and national security partners in addressing vulnerabilities that leave the U.S. residential real estate market exposed to abuse by illicit actors.
The proposed rule is consistent with the Bank Secrecy Act’s longstanding directive to extend anti-money laundering measures to the real estate sector and builds on the success of FinCEN’s Real Estate Geographic Targeting Order program, which has demonstrated the need for increased transparency and further regulation of this sector nationwide. Under the proposed rule, persons involved in real estate closings and settlements would continue to be exempt from the anti-money laundering compliance program requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act.
FinCEN strongly encourages the public to submit written comments in response to the proposed rule. Comments will be accepted for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.
A Fact Sheet on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is available on FinCEN’s website.