Money laundering in real estate and other sectors is the focus of a new two-pronged probe by British Columbia.
The provincial government announced Thursday that its aim is to address the concerns raised about shady dealing in the sector and shut down avenues for money laundering.
“The last government allowed the real estate market to turn into the Wild West with rampant speculation and out-of-control prices,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance. “Our overheated housing market can attract criminals and people wanting to abuse the system. When these people exploit loopholes, they drive up housing prices and help organized crime and drug dealers. That kind of activity has no place in our province, and we are taking action.”
James’ ministry will lead one of the probes and will identify systemic risks that leave the real estate and financial services sectors open to money laundering.
The other investigation will be led by the Attorney General and will investigate specific case examples of problematic activity in real estate and other vulnerable sectors to uncover the ways that money launderers have operated in the province.
“Our examination of money laundering in casinos uncovered troubling evidence suggesting strongly that dirty money is circulating in other places in our communities,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “The multi-faceted approach announced today is an attempt to move quickly to anticipate and shut down new avenues for money laundering, and to follow up on specific cases that Dr. German and the media have drawn to the public and government’s attention.”
Regulators welcome action
The government’s action has been welcomed by the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (RECBC) and the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate (OSRE).
“We fully support the Government’s goal of creating world class regulatory standards in BC,” said the newly appointed Chair of RECBC, Elain Duvall. “We appreciate Government’s willingness to act on these important issues.”
RECBC says it looks forward to working with the government on proposed regulatory regime changes to ensure consumers are well protected.