03 February 2024

Almost Makes Me Long for the Days of Cuomo


New York's Governor, Kathy Hochul, has in response to large bribes aggressive lobbying from slum lords and money launderers, she has neutered a bill intended to expand the transparency of LLCs (Limited Liability Corporations) which have been used to obscure ownership of, and facilitate money laundering in, real estate.

When push comes to shove, she sides with the criminal side of real estate.

Maybe she should be Donald Trump's choice for VP running mate this election:

After receiving $2.2 million from real estate interests, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul watered down an anti-money laundering bill, ensuring that information about the shadowy corporate landlords that control a wide swath of Manhattan real estate remains inaccessible to the public. These property owners have been associated with money laundering and other financial crimes, and Hochul’s move means tenants and workers abused by the system continue to have limited ways to seek justice.

The LLC Transparency Act, which was designed to crack down on anonymous shell companies operating in New York, required limited liability companies to report their owners’ identifying information to an online database. However, before Hochul signed the bill last December, she amended the language so that only government and law enforcement agencies can access business owners’ names.

As an aside here, the New York Governor has WAY too much power.


In a December memo that accompanied her revisions to the LLC Transparency Act, Hochul wrote that the bill was “overly broad, and required changes to ensure it serves the core purpose of exposing unlawful activity while balancing personal privacy.”

Earlier that month, those involved in New York real estate had publicly pushed back against the bill. A Sotheby’s International Realty broker told real estate publication Brick Underground the act was “extraordinarily invasive” for luxury buyers who “don’t want others to know how much they’re spending.”

To paraphrase George W. Bush, "Who cares what they want."

People are using real estate to launder money, and to insulate themselves from defrauding their tenants and their employees.  F%$# their privacy.


One of the benefits of having an LLC is that these types of companies allow owners to make purchases under their LLC name, rather than their actual name, which is appealing to many investors who wish to keep their identities concealed.

“Anonymous shell companies have been used for far too long to break the law and harm New Yorkers,” a coalition of 24 advocacy groups including Reinvent Albany wrote in a letter to Hochul in support of the LLC Transparency Act. “Detractors seem to come from exactly one place: the real estate market for luxury condominiums in New York City, a market historically rife with money laundering facilitated by anonymous shell companies.”


LLCs’ secrecy provisions attract foreign buyers, who can make multimillion-dollar purchases without much scrutiny. For example, business oligarch and former Russian lawmaker Vitaly Malkin purchased a luxury condo at Time Warner Center in Manhattan for $15.6 million in 2010. Malkin, who owned 111 condominiums in Canada but was denied entry into the country because of his alleged connections to organized crime and suspected money laundering, made the purchase under an entity called 25CC ST74B LLC. 

For tenants and workers, LLCs can prove to be shadowy and abusive landlords, linked to deteriorating housing quality and lack of accountability, not to mention wage theft and tenant abuse. By hiding their identities, their owners can protect themselves from angry tenants and lawsuits.

New York State politics is ruthlessly and structurally corrupt.

I do not know how it can be changed, but my guess would be lots of criminal prosecutions would be involved.


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