Vancouver a ‘critical’ money laundering hub for transnational criminals, experts say
(By Dan Fumano, The Province, 29-Apr-2015)
Excerpts. Please see The Province for full text and video.
- Transnational criminal organizations looking to “wash” ill-gotten gains in Vancouver is a problem that’s not going away, says Kim Marsh, a Vancouver-based financial crime specialist with decades of experience in both law enforcement and private investigations.
- Vancouver is “emerging as a critical money laundering hub” for international criminals, due to a convergence of factors including drug money, international connections, an active port, and a hot real estate market, experts say.
- …. Thursday in Vancouver, Marsh will make a presentation to a group of anti-money laundering professionals, detailing his role in a complex 2013 investigation that came to be known as “the Libyan Caper,” a story illustrating the global nature and massive scope of money laundering.
- In Vancouver, one can’t look at money laundering without considering property investment, Marsh said. And a more active market means more opportunity for funds to be washed.
- “What’s happening here in the real estate market is pretty remarkable,” said Marsh …
- “Part of that is the success story of Vancouver. But there’s a lot of dirty money washing around with these purchases,” said Marsh, now executive vice-president of international operations for IPSA International.
- It’s a growing concern for Vancouver, said Christine Duhaime, a Vancouver lawyer and financial crime specialist.
- … Duhaime also said Vancouver’s thriving real estate market is a key factor, and added that some dirty money in Vancouver is brought in from overseas, whether from corrupt foreign officials, weapons trafficking or other means, and some is locally generated, often from the illicit drug market….
COMMENTS FROM CITYHALLWATCH
- Are some realtors complicit? The authorities should be asked to accelerate their review of realtors’ transactions over the past seven years. They are bound by law to report suspicious and large cash transactions. Banks have reported many more than the realtors. Fines for violations are large.
See our story: Real estate industry has major role in fighting money laundering: Info for citizens. See also BC casinos court China’s high-rollers, but it’s realtors who gamble with money launderers (Ian Young, SCMP).
- “Establishment” bodies like the CMHC and real estate industry organizations proclaim what may be naive market analyses that ignore the impacts of global speculation and money laundering in Vancouver (e.g., this one today by the CMHC – “Despite high prices, Vancouver housing market at low risk of correction” in BIV). Do they fail to factor in all the relevant impacts? They are the experts, but were they asleep at the switch? Was it intentional ignorance? What is the magnitude of the impact of global speculation and money laundering in the local property market? Time will tell. Maybe.
- Over the past few civic elections, our current mayor and councillors were reelected on promises of addressing housing affordability. By now they should have left no stone unturned in this pursuit. So what have they done to shine a light on these issues? The current regime was in place since 2008. The recent announcement by the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency may be way too little, and way too late.
See our growing compilation of materials on these topics.