In the summer of 2013, we received a call from a local law firm with what appeared to be a simple request – they wanted to determine the identity of the owner of a property in the Hudson Valley of New York, where hordes of wealthy New Yorkers had been collecting property over the past several years. Seemed like a pretty simple request, given that real property information can usually be gathered from the comfort of a computer. But it was anything but simple.
It’s rarely straightforward.
It became clear quickly that this was not so straightforward. First, the law firm had done a bit of their own digging around. The law firm suspected that the ultimate owner of the property was a wealthy foreign businessman with a history of shady business deals. When you are dealing with shady people, it’s rarely straightforward.
Second, based on some initial research, the client was aware that the property had been acquired by a New York limited liability company (LLC), which had only the name of an attorney associated with the firm. It’s a common practice for a wealthy family to purchase a home through a corporation with the only point of contact being an attorney …read more