Feds: Six more months of scrutiny for foreign cash buyers in Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County’s banks continue to grow more financially stable. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, is requiring stricter oversight of all-cash home sales to shell companies for six more months.

FinCEN said Thursday that its “geographic targeting orders” for $1 million property sales in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties will stay in effect for an additional 180 days. The feds require U.S. title insurance companies to reveal the individual behind all-cash, high-end real estate transactions. For South Florida, that means any deal of $1 million or more.

Nearly a third of cash deals FinCEN has scrutinized over the past year involve a party who has been the subject of a suspicious activity report, the document bankers must complete if they suspect shady practices.

The orders “are producing valuable data that is assisting law enforcement and is serving to inform our future efforts to address money laundering in the real estate sector,” FinCEN Acting Director Jamal El-Hindi said in a statement. “The subject of money laundering and illicit financial flows involving the real estate sector is something that we have been taking on in steps to ensure that we continue to build an efficient and effective regulatory approach.”

In January 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said it would scrutinize all-cash real estate purchases by secretive entities in two areas: Miami-Dade County and Manhattan.

And last summer, the feds said the scrutiny yielded a number of leads — and they extended the oversight to Broward and Palm Beach counties, along with all five boroughs of New York, five counties in California and one in Texas.

All-cash shell-company deals are “highly vulnerable to abuse for money laundering,” the feds said.

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