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Scandal-Plagued Foreigners Park Millions in Midtown Condos

Foreign buyers have long parked their fortunes in so-called "safe deposit boxes in the sky": Manhattan's condo towers. But they're doing it now more than ever, and the identities of the purchasers of these multi-million dollar apartments are often shielded behind a twisty trail of limited-liability corporations, trusts, or other shell companies. An impressive, thorough Times investigation that took over a year exposed the flesh-and-blood people behind 200 of these opaque companies—and it turns out that several of the owners are in some way tinged by scandal. The first two installments in a five-part series called Towers of Secrecy are now live. The first piece zooms in on the uber-expensive Time Warner Center, which is the "New York archetype of the global phenomenon, reflecting intertwined trends—the increasing sums of foreign money in high-end real estate and the growing use of shell companies. ... In 2003, one-third of the units sold in Time Warner were purchased by shell companies. By 2014, that figure was over 80 percent."

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