Friday, October 31, 2008

FinCEN Withdraws Proposed Rulemaking for Unregistered Investment Companies

On September 26, 2002, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued a notice of proposed rulemaking, proposing to require unregistered investment companies to establish and implement anti-money laundering programs. (Anti-Money Laundering Programs for Unregistered Investment Companies, 67 FR 60617 (Sep. 26, 2002))

In that notice of proposed rulemaking, FinCEN proposed to define the term “unregistered investment company” as (1) an issuer that, but for certain exclusions, would be an investment company as that term is defined in the Investment Company Act of 1940, (2) a commodity pool, and (3) a company that invests primarily in real estate and/or interests in real estate. FinCEN proposed requiring these companies to file a notice so that FinCEN could readily identify such companies and require them to establish and implement anti-money laundering programs.

I have been watching that rule-making process because it could have a profound impact on buying and selling real estate. For big commercial transactions we keep an eye on the parties to see if there is a reason to be wary and to see if they on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List. But I had some concern that they could extend the "know your customer" rules deep into real estate transactions imposing lots of administrative overhead for little benefit. 

Yesterday, FinCEN gave notice under 31 CFR Part 103 Withdrawal of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Anti-Money Laundering Programs for Unregistered Investment Companies . FinCEN is not abandoning the possibility of pursing the rulemaking. Given the six year span since the notice, they feel it has gone stale. If (or when) they decide to proceed with an anti-money laundering program requirement for unregistered investment companies, they will publish a new notice.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Emerging Trends in Real Estate

The Urban land Institute's  Emerging Trends in Real Estate for 2009 came out with a picture of doom and gloom, predicting that in 2009, commercial real estate will suffer its worst year since the industry's crash of 1991-92, with a noticeable rebound unlikely until 2011 at the earliest. It also forecasts a decline of 15% to 20% in property values, on average, from their 2007 peaks, with even sharper declines coming in weaker markets.

Of the 50 markets tracked, the study found only Dallas and Houston have prospects for investment and development in 2009 that should be better than in 2008, thanks to their exposure to the energy industry. All other markets face deteriorating conditions next year, the study said.

But, the report does point out that there are opportunities to be found.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

A New Chapter for Me

Yesterday was my last day at The Firm.

It was hard to walk out the door after 13 great years. Andy Sucoff extended me an offer to join the real estate group during the summer of 1995.  It has been great working with one of the best group of real estate lawyers in the country. I was able to work on interesting and complex real estate transactions. I will miss the practice and my clients.

Don Oppenheimer transformed my practice by introducing me to knowledge management about 8 years ago. The Firm was very forward-thinking in trying to maximize the collective intelligence of its attorneys and staff. And still is. We have experienced tremendous success through the knowledge management program. It has been growing even more with The Firm's adoption of enterprise 2.0 tools as part of the knowledge management program.

I had a great time and learned a great deal during those two chapters of my career. But, a great opportunity presented itself and I had trouble ignoring it. So, now I start a new chapter.

I am taking a few days off to relax. I have some biking trips and kayaking trips lined up. Of course, you cannot rely on New England weather.

Later this month, I join Beacon Capital Partners as their Chief Compliance Officer. It is a big change in career. But I am looking forward to new challenges and opportunities.

As for Real Estate space?

It will live on.

At least for a little while longer.