Andrew Scheer’s announcement this week that, if elected, he would open a public inquiry into British Columbia money laundering was met with applause by the province’s attorney general.
“We’re becoming internationally known for this,” David Eby was quoted as saying in The Canadian Press. “We need to be addressing it quickly. I think all parties should be concerned about this and it should be a point of debate during the election about how parties can respond best, how the federal government can respond best to this.”
He stopped short of endorsing Scheer—or any candidate—though.
“There’s no question we need to do a lot more work with our federal counterparts, whichever party is in power,” said Eby.
In May, two bombshell reports about the depth of money laundering in B.C. were released, one of which estimated $5 billion of $7.4b laundered through the province in 2018 went through its real estate and added 5% to the price of housing province-wide.
At the time, Eby described money laundering as a “malignant cancer” and a “national-level crisis.”
Vancouver-based mortgage broker Angela Calla believes money laundering in the province is a bigger problem in the luxury car market and casinos, which the May reports stated were both rampant with dirty money. Calla added that even the foreign buyer tax won’t do much to dissuade people desperate to get their money out of other countries, which is believed to have contributed to the money laundering problem.
“For people this wealthy, whatever hurdles we put in real estate, they’re going to work with intelligent accountants and lawyers who have expertise in how to bring their money over,” she said. “They’re savvy enough to find other ways of purchasing real estate.”
Calla noted that money launderers wouldn’t be getting mortgages and surmised a lot of it goes through new construction.
“I can say certainly in the B.C. mortgage industry, we have so much compliance that I don’t believe there’s a possible way it could get through a mortgage broker. The money laundering is happening through other places like casinos and luxury car sales.”