Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Some B.C. Real Estate Agents Insider Trading and Helping to Money Launder: NDP

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Some B.C. Real Estate Agents Insider Trading and Helping to Money Launder: NDP

Article excerpt

Some B.C. real estate agents laundering cash: NDP

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VANCOUVER - The independent office charged with overseeing the British Columbia real estate market will investigate allegations of fraud and insider trading by some Metro Vancouver real estate agents, the provincial government said Monday.

Superintendent of Real Estate Carolyn Rogers will work with an advisory group being set up by the Real Estate Council of B.C. to look into concerns raised by media reports and Opposition politicians, said B.C. Minister Peter Fassbender.

"The reason we have an independent superintendent's office is that they are charged with ensuring that best practices are in place," he said in an interview.

"Any regulatory changes that might be required will be brought forward, and so we are encouraging that any issues that come up be directed to the superintendent or to the real estate council, to make sure the public is protected on every front."

The government dismissed calls from the Opposition New Democrats to launch a formal arm's-length inquiry. Fassbender said the superintendent is independent and the government will take "very seriously" any recommendations that are issued.

Fassbender said the government will also be taking measures in the upcoming budget intended to address concerns about housing supply, pricing and affordability.

NDP housing critic David Eby claimed Monday that some real estate agents have been avoiding property transfer and capital gains taxes while exploiting a clause in contracts that allows for a series of home flips, increasing the final price by hundreds of thousands.

He also alleged that some real estate agents have been helping clients hide the foreign origins of money used in transactions by putting the broker's location instead of the purchaser's address on federal anti-money laundering forms.

"Both of these independent issues would be serious enough on their own," Eby said at a news conference. "But together, with so many widespread reports coming from different sources, they lead us to the inevitable conclusion that oversight of the real estate industry in British Columbia is woefully inadequate."

He said the province has fallen "asleep at the switch" and could be losing millions in tax revenue, while allowing realtors to have an unfair advantage in insider trading and defeat anti-money laundering protections. …

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