The B.C. government will release a pair of reports looking into money laundering in B.C.’s housing market on Thursday.
The second German Report, which examines money laundering in real estate, horse tracks and luxury cars, is more than 300 pages long. The province has already released chapters looking into horse tracks and luxury cars.
The second report has been submitted to B.C.’s minister of finance by the Expert Panel on Money Laundering. It recommends rule changes that will shut loopholes in the real estate market and increase transparency on who owns property in B.C.
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Global News obtained a study of more than 1,200 luxury real estate purchases in B.C.’s Lower Mainland in 2016 found that more than 10 per cent were tied to buyers with criminal records. And 95 per cent of those transactions were believed by police intelligence to be linked to Chinese crime networks.
While the study only looked at property purchases in 2016, an analysis by Global News suggests the same extended crime network may have laundered about $5 billion in Vancouver-area homes since 2012.
The two reports were commissioned in September 2018 following widespread concern about British Columbia’s reputation as a haven for money laundering.
The B.C. government has been waiting to review the reports before determining whether there will be a public inquiry looking into money laundering. There has been growing support from the public for a inquiry.
British Columbia real estate professionals released recommendations in advance of the report, including amending Canada’s anti-money laundering laws in efforts to halt the flow of criminal money in the industry.
Five industry groups, including the B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA), submitted five joint recommendations, including mandatory training for realtors on recognizing suspicious wealth, a “best practices” guideline that asks real estate professionals to reject cash transactions, and federal legal reforms to enable better enforcement of money laundering.
— With files from Sam Cooper