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Vancouver-based lawyer wants inquiry into real estate money laundering

A Vancouver-based lawyer is calling on the federal government to launch an inquiry in the Vancouver housing market, saying the issue of money laundering needs to be fully explored.

The remark was made at a housing rally in downtown Vancouver on Saturday, that attracted nearly two hundred people concerned about housing in Metro Vancouver.

Lawyer and Anti-Money Laundering Specialist Christine Duhaime said an inquiry was the only way to get to the bottom of what might be happening in the real estate market.

“I would like to suggest the federal government convene an inquiry into whether or not there is a financial crime problem in the real estate sector of Vancouver and what can be done to resolve it,” she said.

The rally was organized by citizen’s group HALT–Housing Action for Local Taxpayers. Justin Fung, one of the group’s founders, said after months of feeling like their concerns were being dismissed, it seems government is finally listening.

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“We went from, ‘hey we’ve gotta study this more, we’ve gotta collect more data’, to now we’re seeing action. So, absolutely I think things are moving in the right direction, but there’s still a lot left to be done.”

In recent months, there has been movement: a 15 per cent foreign buyers tax and a Gregor Robertson-led proposal for an empty homes tax in Vancouver.

However, critics and academics said an increase in housing supply and wages are both desperately needed.

According to UBC Professor and Generation Squeeze Founder Dr. Paul Kershaw, now is the perfect time to push for more government action.

“The anger and frustration is coming together in constructive ways to entice all political parties left, right and centre to say homes first has to be the principle around which they organize their platform heading into the next provincial election.”

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