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