$5 bil­lion laun­dered through B.C. real es­tate in 2018: re­port

The Sudbury Star - - FP - DIRK MEISSNER

An in­de­pen­dent re­port es­ti­mates that $5 bil­lion was laun­dered through Bri­tish Columbia’s real es­tate mar­ket last year and in­creased the cost of buy­ing a home by five per cent.

Some $7.4 bil­lion over­all was laun­dered in B.C. in 2018, out of a to­tal of $47 bil­lion across Canada, con­cluded the re­port by an ex­pert panel led by for­mer B.C. deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral Mau­reen Maloney.

“Wealthy crim­i­nals and those at­tempt­ing to evade taxes have had the run of our province for too long, to the point that they are now dis­tort­ing our econ­omy, hurt­ing fam­i­lies look­ing for hous­ing, and im­pact­ing those who have lost loved ones due to the opi­oid over­dose (cri­sis),” At­tor­ney Gen­eral David Eby told a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day. “The party is over.”

The pro­vin­cial govern­ment com­mis­sioned two re­ports last Septem­ber to shed light on money laun­der­ing by or­ga­nized crime in the province’s ex­pen­sive real es­tate mar­ket, fol­low­ing last June’s re­port on dirty money in casi­nos by for­mer deputy RCMP com­mis­sioner Peter Ger­man.

Ger­man was then tasked to write a sec­ond re­port on real es­tate, and he says in the doc­u­ment that the in­fu­sion of il­licit money into the B.C. econ­omy led to a frenzy of buy­ing that raised the as­sessed val­ues of homes through­out much of Metro Van­cou­ver.

There are thou­sands of spe­cific prop­er­ties worth bil­lions at high risk for po­ten­tial money laun­der­ing, Ger­man’s re­port says.

“His find­ings are stark ev­i­dence of the con­se­quences of an ab­sence of over­sight, the weak­ness of data col­lec­tion, and the to­tal in­dif­fer­ence of gov­ern­ments un­til now to this ma­lig­nant can­cer on our econ­omy and our so­ci­ety,” said Eby.

Eby said B.C.’s cab­i­net is cur­rently de­cid­ing whether to call a pub­lic in­quiry. Green Leader An­drew Weaver said Ger­man’s re­port lays out a “di­rect ra­tio­nale” for such an in­quiry.

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