Expert panel seeks public input on money laundering in real estate

The B.C. government’s expert panel on money laundering in real estate has launched a public consultation, and is seeking submissions from British Columbians as part of its review and report to the government.

Province also announces anonymous tip portal to report dirty money in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

The expert panel on money laundering in real estate will be accepting responses from individuals, stakeholders or organizations by email or through the government website. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The B.C. government's expert panel on money laundering in real estate is seeking input from British Columbians. 

The panel has launched a public consultation to help shape its recommendations on how to better protect B.C.'s real estate sector from those seeking to launder the proceeds of crime. 

"We're hoping to actually hear from everyone because, certainly, money laundering impacts everyone in British Columbia," said Finance Minister Carole James, who appointed the panel earlier in the fall. It followed two independent reports that revealed how the province's real estate market is susceptible to criminal activity and market manipulation. 

The panel will be accepting responses from individuals, stakeholders or organizations by email or through the government website until Dec. 14.

"I expect that we'll hear from people, experts that work in the real estate market, people who work in the finance area, but we're leaving it open to anyone who has knowledge of money laundering in real estate, or who wants to contribute," James said.

Anonymous tip line

According to a written statement from the province, the panel is tasked with investigating gaps in compliance and enforcement of existing laws, consumer protections, financial services regulations, regulation of real estate professionals, and jurisdictional gaps between B.C. and the federal government. 

"We're in the middle of a serious housing crisis and we need to be diligent to ensure that our housing market is not being used as a hub to launder money," James said. 

"We don't want any gaps in our laws or regulations. Dirty money has no place in British Columbia."

The panel's recommendations are expected to inform the government how to prevent market manipulation and abuse, create world-class regulatory standards, and drive illegal activity out of the province. 

On Sunday, B.C. Attorney General David Eby also announced an anonymous tip portal for reporting dirty money in horse racing, real estate and luxury cars

Panel of experts

Panel chair Maureen Maloney, former B.C. deputy attorney general, says the public's input will be valuable. 

"We need to know how our markets are being used to launder money before we can make recommendations, and it will help the panel to hear from British Columbians, especially those with direct knowledge of our real estate sector and its legal framework," said Maloney, an SFU professor of public policy. 

"We encourage anyone with these insights and proposed solutions to come forward and have their voices heard."

Maloney is joined on the panel by Tsur Somerville associate professor and director of the UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, and Brigitte Unger, chair of economics of the public sector at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. 

The panel's final report and recommendations are due to be presented to the finance minister in March 2019. 

Also due by March 2019 is a report on the scale and scope of verifiable illicit activity in the real estate market conducted by former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German, who authored the June 2018 report Dirty Money, which looked into the prevalence of money laundering in B.C.

About the Author

Cory Correia

Reporter

Cory Correia is a reporter with CBC Vancouver. Send him an email at cory.correia@cbc.ca