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Acres of Money Laundering: Why US Real Estate is a Kleptocrat’s dream?

October 25, 2022 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

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A presentation by the Governance Thematic Group. 

Lakshmi Kumar, Policy Director at Global Financial Integrity.


  • Alex Habershon – Manager, Integrity Vice Presidency-VPU, WBG
  • Emile Van Der Does De Willebois – Lead Financial Sector Specialist, Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions-VPU, WBG


What do the Iranian government, a fugitive international jeweler, and a disgraced Harvard University fencing coach have in common? They have all used real estate to launder their ill-gotten gains. In this presentation, Ms. Kumar, Policy Director, Global Financial Integrity (GFI) dives into the murky world of global money laundering and demonstrates the ease with which kleptocrats, criminals, sanctions evaders, and corrupt government officials choose the real estate market as their preferred destination to hide and launder proceeds from illicit activities. The presentation looks at data analysis from within the US but also elsewhere to demonstrate why real estate is such a preferred mechanism for money laundering and hiding the proceeds of corruption. The presentation maps where this illicit money is coming from?, how the money makes its way into the real estate sector, and the laws and professionals that enable this illicit activity. Finally, the presentation will also look at ongoing policy developments both in developed and developing countries and discusses the problem in simply duplicating laws for countries with widely different real estate markets and at widely different stages of development.

About the speaker:

Lakshmi Kumar is the Policy Director of Global Financial Integrity. She oversees GFI’s policy, advocacy, and regulatory work focusing on illicit financial flows in the U.S. and Africa. She oversees the organization’s US and Africa operations focusing on illicit finance. Ms. Kumar is invited regularly to provide comment and expertise to governments and international organizations on a host of issues including money laundering through real estate, gold, private investment funds, free trade zones, and policy reforms on beneficial ownership. She has testified before the U.S. Congress on these issues. She is a Senior Fellow at George Mason University and an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service,where teaches classes on trade based money laundering and illicit finance respectively. She is a regular speaker and commentator on anti-corruption and money laundering issues at conferences and events around the world. Her comments and work have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Reuters, BBC among other leading outlets in Latin America and Africa.

To view the report, click this link – Acres of Money Laundering: Why U.S. Real Estate is a Kleptocrat’s Dream

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October 25, 2022
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm


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