The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) has issued an alert to its member realtors, warning about accepting property purchase money from overseas into their private bank accounts.

In a memo, the board says such transactions are illegal and violate money-laundering and tax laws.

"It has come to our attention that overseas clients may be asking realtors to allow money to be transferred to their personal accounts so that the realtors can arrange a bank draft to give to the sellers/developers for their purchase," says the written notice.

"It's important everyone understands that this violates federal income tax laws, FINTRAC laws and the Real Estate Services Act. It is extremely important to ensure that any exchange of funds is legitimate, legal and ethical before members agree to participate."

FINTRAC is Canada's anti-money laundering watchdog.

Proactive move, says board 

FVREB President Gopal Sahota says the notice was not a response to a specific incident or investigation, but rather a proactive measure to educate and protect consumers and realtors.

"We're commonly providing these alerts, these teachable opportunities to educate members on an ongoing basis," Sahota said.

He says the FVREB has provided many similar alerts to members in the past, warning of suspicious buyers or con artists, for example.

Craig Munn of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said his organization has never heard of foreign buyers transferring money to the personal accounts of realtors, nor has his organization ever felt the need to issue a warning about it.

"It's in breach of the professional and legal responsibilities of our industry," said Munn.