This op-ed originally appeared on The Hill and was written by Michelle Kendler-Kretsch, Investigator at The Sentry.
When my parents moved to Miami and were looking for an apartment, I jokingly offered my investigative services to make sure their rental unit wasn’t owned by a drug trafficker or a corrupt foreign leader. Miami real estate is well known for being a money laundering hub for all sorts of shady characters. In fact, from my own experience tracking dirty money, I was aware that the daughter of a prominent Congolese politician accused of corruption owned high value real estate in the Miami area. Drug cartels, mafiosi, and thieving dictators all need a safe home for their ill-gotten gains. And given the high rents they can charge, luxury real estate is not just a safe hideout for their cash, it’s a profitable investment.
A recent investigative report by our team at The Sentry, however, reveals that real estate-based money laundering is not only happening in flashy locations like Miami, Malibu, and Manhattan, with millions stashed in mega mansions. As we traced the dirty money flowing from corrupt operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo through a maze of shell companies and international banking transactions, we were surprised to discover the trail led to ordinary houses in middle-class neighborhoods, right in the city where I live. Namely, our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C…
Click here to read the full op-ed.