Social media has been revolutionized once again with a direct warning from Finance Minister Francisco Pares, who took this opportunity to launch an arrow in the direction of possible tax evaders linked to organized crime and drug trafficking in Puerto Rico, who are used to buying real estate with “cash”. “or with fake people.

“I’m doing Puerto Rico a disservice if I don’t take action from the Treasury Department against organized crime … let the underlings know they’re being portrayed and we’re going to pass a bill,” the Treasury secretary said. via various Twitter posts.

The posts were accompanied by a map of the island and thousands of red marks over 78 municipalities. “I am sharing with you the geolocation of transactions identified by the Ministry of Finance regarding the sale of real estate for “cash”. Words are superfluous, our actions will lead to a fairer tax system. I promise you. We will not fantasize,” Pares wrote on Twitter, provoking dozens of reactions.

In an interview with Primera Hora, the official explained that his statements stem from the conclusions of the information that was collected with the help of a technological tool that allows the government to link the purchase of real estate on the island with the information provided by persons in business (buyer and seller) in their declarations about income The information under the Treasury’s microscope in the first phase was obtained from the purchase/sale of real estate in Puerto Rico during 2021 and part of 2022.

“Public information is used, such as the cadastral number and the property, and we link it to those taxpayers who bought or sold…crossing the data allows us to see the payment mechanism used (if it was a check, ‘cash’ or exchange, the most common the latter has a cryptocurrency exchange) until you find out where the property was sold. This allows us to assess two things: if the seller reports it in the income statement; and this allows us to find out whether this person who bought reported to the state in their forms the amount of sufficient resources and equivalent to the value of the property,” he said.

As an example, he mentioned that if a person buys a $600,000 “cash” property and their “income tax” return shows that they have a poverty income, “because there’s something that doesn’t add up and has to be assessed Treasury, Department”.

“The agency intends to decipher consumption patterns and compare them with what the taxpayer reports in the reports. If there’s a deficiency or if something’s not right, that would allow us to initiate some checks and send out some alerts as a management… in other extreme cases, they could go to the Department of Justice or federal authorities like the DEA (Department of Drug Enforcement) and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation),” he said, adding that these organizations are aware of the efforts being made by the Treasury Department.

An impersonator is a person who pretends to be the owner of a business or when signing a contract (including the purchase of property) that actually belongs to another person. A dummy head figure is not illegal unless it occurs to commit some kind of fraud.

Have there been any referrals to the FBI or DEA regarding these front person cases you mention? – they asked him.

“I’m not going to go into detail, but we shared intelligence, valuable information for these tools,” he simply replied.

Using geolocation, 54,000 related transactions have already been identified. “This means we already know who bought, who sold, and the payment mechanism that was used,” Pares said, clarifying that while the agency has been gathering information for months, there is still “a lot to research, to analyze , and pass judgment.”

He claimed that of these 54,000 transactions, it was found that 9% (4,860) of the business was completed with cash payments. On average, this is real estate with a sale price of more than $200,000. However, the secretary clarified that there are also properties worth up to $4 million that were paid for “in cash.”

“I don’t want to say that a significant part of that 9% is related to the violation, because it probably isn’t. Also, not criminalizing those who have capital, abide by the law and can make cash payments, and I don’t want that to be perceived. But we also know that we are going to crack down on people involved in organized crime and drug trafficking,” he insisted, noting that this and other mechanisms will be used to raise awareness of the fight against money laundering and drug trafficking, as well as to how these criminal activities affect the economy. island and move away from a fairer tax system.

What else did the research show?

Another finding from the first phase of the study showed that 15% of transactions were in the form of barter (an exchange between a buyer and a seller for another property), in exchange for promises of payment, or in exchange for cryptocurrencies.

“This system is also important because it gives us visibility into potential fronts created by organized crime … people who want to go under the radar and engage in money laundering or drug trafficking. This will help control this illegal activity, and while Puerto Rico does not know exactly how much of the economy is the result of underground activity, we agree that it is a significant amount,” Pares said, noting that while there may not be many evaders behind the scheme, “evasion can be significant.”