Mortgage lenders who want to avoid becoming innocent victims of money-laundering cases need to be able to prove their innocence lest they become liable should the government seize the property, legal experts warn.

"Do you know who the principals are? Is it a Panamanian corporation--why use them? Who's going to pay the loan?" asked Holly Skolnick, an attorney at the Miami law firm of Greenberg, Traurig, at a money-laundering conference last month. "All of this is necessary because if the asset used as collateral was seized, you've got to show innocence."

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