February 25, 2003
Your Attorney Will Now be Required to Turn You In. You'll Be Billed Later.
IsThatLegal?, a weblog that comments on a variety of things -- mostly the American Internment of Japanese during WW II, but really, other stuff too -- that the Patriot Act requires lawyers at real estate closings to
first check a federal database to ascertain whether either seller or buyer is a "Specially Designated National"--that is, a person or entity on a "terrorist list" compiled by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department. And here's the kicker: if seller or buyer is on the list, then the lawyer must (a) report the fact to the federal government, (b) delay the closing, and (c) not tell the client(s) that the lawyer has done (a) and (b).
He goes on to note that:
Two things jump out at me here. First, this is a spot where the reach of the USA PATRIOT Act is just enormous. It affects every single real estate transaction in the nation. From an administration that purports to be concerned about protecting state and local power from the reach of the federal government, this is an extraordinary foray into what has always been understood to be a core matter of state and local concern--transactions in real property.
What else is hiding in the Patriot Act? Who put this in? Was there a lobby (the Background Check Association of America maybe?) that got this slipped in?
Posted by Tom Burka at 7:08 AM