Unscrupulous elements ferried around $7.4 billion in dirty money in B.C. last year, with an estimated $5 billion laundered through the real estate market, according to an extensive analysis released late last week.
The report from the expert panel led by former B.C. deputy attorney general Maureen Maloney noted that the province’s total accounted for nearly 16% of the $47 billion laundered nationwide in 2018.
Illegal cash has inflated the cost of buying a home in B.C. by as much as 5% last year, the report stated. Attorney General David Eby said that these results highlighted the seriousness of the long-running issue, which the federal government has not properly addressed until recently.
“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],” Eby said, as quoted by The Canadian Press.
He added that the provincial government will be closing tax loopholes in the luxury car sector, which has become another hotbed for laundering. Eby estimated that illicit activity in the segment has cost B.C. almost $85 million since 2013.
The Maloney panel report placed B.C. fourth in terms of money laundering in Canada, behind Alberta, Ontario, and the Prairies – representing a disturbing trend of illegal activity growing more influential in markets with more affordable properties than the leading markets.
“What this report makes clear is this is not an issue simply for B.C.,” Finance Minister Carole James said. “This is an issue for all of Canada. This is an issue for all jurisdictions.”