A lax legal regime in BC has allowed a suspected Chinese drug boss to hold a significant stake in a major condo project in Metro Vancouver, according to an exhaustive investigation conducted by Global News.
The condo development was acquired through a “bare trust” joint venture between Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido’s law firm and a company directed by Kwok Chung Tam.
This set-up helped Tam conceal his direct involvement in the acquisition of the 3.7-acre asset in Coquitlam, BC for $7.75 million. The property was sold for $14.8 million in 2015.
According to the Canada Border Services Agency, Tam is a high-level authority figure in the large China-based drug cartel Big Circle Boys.
Law enforcement and immigration records between 1991 and 2014 also strongly hinted that Tam “brazenly” operated in Canada as a heroin importer, drug facility operator, and casino loan shark.
This has raised questions on whether Peschisolido’s firm did its research before undertaking a major transaction with a highly suspicious individual, and what verification standards (if any) exist in BC.
“Lawyers need to be asking their clients, how did you make your money?” RCMP International Organized Crime Investigation Unit former commander Kim Marsh said.
“Anybody doing basic due diligence, even basic Google searches, would determine there is huge red flags, that these individuals are involved in illicit activities,” he added. “So anyone doing business with them is either doing nothing, or it’s a case of willful blindness.”
For his part, Tam has maintained that he is a legitimate businessman. According to his July 2016 court affidavit, “I am not now nor have I ever been a member of a gang, triad or criminal organization.”
His Vancouver immigration lawyer also insisted to Global News that the allegations have yet to be satisfactorily proven in any legal setting. This is despite the source of Tam’s immense wealth having been in question ever since his arrival in Vancouver in 1988.