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Man making $40k/year bought $32m in Vancouver real estate via CCP-linked offshore accounts – Business in Vancouver

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Real Estate Sales In September

Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C examined one instance in which a low-income man and his family bought $32 million worth of housing in Vancouver after transferring $114 million from largely obscure offshore accounts.

A citizen of the People’s Republic of China reported average annual earnings of $40,615 to Canadian border agents yet went on to buy $32 million worth of Vancouver real estate after moving $114 million from Hong Kong-based depositors with connections to organized crime and the Chinese Communist Party, a case study by counsel for the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C. shows.

The study is one of over 1,000 commission exhibits, and it hits on a number of vital aspects of money laundering heard during the course of the 18-month inquiry, such as nominee purchases, obscure corporate structures, fraud, layering and placement of assets (particularly real estate) and links to organized crime and corruption.

Commissioner Austin Cullen heard closing submissions this month and is expected to submit a final report in December, with findings and recommendations that could include real estate regulations and anti-corruption measures.

The anonymized study describes a family affair of suspected money laundering. The ‘Man’ utilized his ‘Wife,’ ‘Child’ and ‘Mother’ to move funds from Hong Kong-based depositors, or so-called “money changers,” and into luxury homes in Vancouver as well as at least one Bahamas-based shell company.

The Man came to Canada in 2006 with total declared family assets of $1.25 million but became subject of a deportation hearing under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in 2016. A number of reports to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the national financial intelligence agency of Canada, seemed at odds with his declarations. Documents in the study also show the Man was listed by Interpol as being wanted for bribery. The immigration proceedings are now sealed, according to commission counsel.

Between April 2006 and November 2014, the Man and his family members received about $114 million from Hong Kong. Much of the money moved through so-called ‘Company A’ – an investment holding company listed in the Bahamas and beneficially owned by the Mother. The company held $34.6 million in three accounts. Documents also show the Wife (listed as “homemaker, unemployed and CEO”) ordered transfers from institutions listed in Switzerland, China, Singapore and Canada.

FINTRAC reports showed the money moved in 60 separate electronic fund transfer reports, seven large cash transaction reports and just two suspicious transaction reports.

The Man and the Wife bought their first home in Vancouver for between $2.0 million and $3.0 million, according to the study (exact details are redacted). The Child, listed as a student, then bought a $14 million home in 2012. The Man bought a second home, for at least $15 million in 2016 – the same year the Child bought a second property in the $1 million to $2 million range. The properties were tied to one another via mortgages and names on land titles.

It’s unclear where the other money went.

It was in December 2011 when the Man and four Hong Kong-based depositors were subject to two suspicious transaction reports to FINTRAC by UBS Bank (Canada), after about $7.5 million was moved to family members in 10 separate transactions. The Mother had explained to the bank the transfers were the result of the partial sale of her property in China. However, the Man, who held power of attorney for the Mother, wasn’t able to produce the land title records and UBS asked them to take the money out of their accounts.

Counsel examined the FINTRAC reports and issued summons to 11 Canadian banks or financial institutions for details on four specific depositors.

The summons show the four depositors moved $166.9 million total into B.C. accounts registered to five major Canadian banks between 2009 and 2020. The study further examined those four specific depositors in further detail using open source material.

Overall, the commission found limited open source information about these depositors, despite the large amounts of cash flowing into B.C. One operated in an obscure building belonging to an auto repair shop.

“Almost no information is available about these companies online,” the study states in reference to two of the depositors.

However some arms-length information on the others was gleaned from public records.

Depositor Hing Wah China + HK Renminbi Exchange Co., which made the most deposits to B.C. accounts, was found to have shareholders named Fang Jinghua and Hing Wah. Those two were accused of operating an underground bank in a Chinese court dispute but were determined innocent of the allegation. Fang, who owns a number of Hong Kong businesses with his family, has also faced charges of assault and criminal damage.

A business associate of theirs is Fong Siu Lok, who is a co-shareholder of jewellery shops with the “Fang Family.”

“Lok has a somewhat higher public profile than other Fang Family members. He became head of the Hong Kong Lion’s Club in 2017, and in 2011 and 2012 was one of Hong Kong’s delegates to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress (“CPPCC”) of Fengkai, a region of Guangdong just north of Hong Kong,” the study states.

The CPPCC is a branch of China’s foreign influence program, the United Front Work Department, according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

The commission goes on to detail some of the connections Lok has, including to a woman named Szeto Yuk Lin – a “gaming tycoon widely reported to have close connections to organized crime, particularly Wan Kwok-koi, a.k.a. Broken Tooth Koi, a leader of the 14K triad,” the study found.

“In 1997, Wan ordered a hit in Vancouver against Lai Tong Sang, an alleged leader of the rival Shui Fong triad. Wan was sentenced to prison in 1999, and after being released in 2012 is alleged by the United States Treasury and others to have continued to conduct criminal activities,” states the study.

Likewise, the commission has heard testimony about alleged Chinese transnational organized criminals operating in concert with local gangs and using B.C. casinos as a means to launder drug proceeds by loaning cash to gamblers.

Cullen may also weigh in on his views of foreign capital impacting the Vancouver real estate market and to what extent Canadian laws mitigate any risks of that money being from criminal activity.

Cullen heard broadly from experts that it is difficult to pinpoint the exact quantity of money laundering in real estate.

Conservative estimates from a report from professors Maureen Maloney, Tsur Somerville and Brigette Unger, titled Combatting Money Laundering in BC Real Estate, indicate there was $5.3 billion laundered into B.C. real estate in 2018 alone, thus leading to an increase in real estate prices.

In closing submission, the B.C. Real Estate Association, which represents the interests of real estate agents, downplayed the report as “speculative” and that “there has been a conflation in the public discourse surrounding money laundering and foreign investment in real estate.”

Last November, the B.C. government launched a beneficial-ownership registry for residential property. As opposed to simply naming a person on a land title record, companies, business entities or individuals with an interest in residential land will need to file a transparency report by November 30, 2021. The government claims it has enforcement officers and says providing false information carries a maximum penalty of 5% of the property’s value.

The province states it is consulting with stakeholders on establishing a beneficial ownership registry for B.C.-registered corporations. The Canadian government has committed to doing so as well, but on the federal level.

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Montreal real estate prices soar 21% amid lower listings, sales in November – Global News

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The Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers says November home sales and new listings fell in Montreal as prices soared by more than 20 per cent compared with a year ago.

The association says sales for the month totalled 4,402, a 17 per cent drop from 5,296 in November 2020.

Read more:

International students and offshore banking flagged in Canadian real estate money laundering

New listings amounted to 5,056, down 14 per cent from 5,848 last November.

The median price of a single-family home soared by 21 per cent compared with a year ago to reach $525,000, while condos went up by 18 per cent to hit $374,000 and plexes with two to five units had a 15 per cent spike pushing them to $725,000.

Read more:

Montreal October home sales down from record level last year, but prices up

Apart from condominiums, which saw a slight decline, the association says the median prices were also up from October 2021.

Charles Brant, the association’s director of market analysis, says he noticed a lack of supply and persistently high demand last month that placed pressure on prices and encouraged potential sellers to get into the market.

“The announcement of an earlier-than-expected rise in interest rates no doubt motivated potential sellers to advance their project in order to benefit from the sustained activity and the opportunity to sell at the best price,” he said in a statement.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Montreal real estate prices soar 21% amid lower listings in Nov.: brokers group – moosejawtoday.com

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MONTREAL — The Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers says November home sales and new listings fell in Montreal as prices soared by more than 20 per cent compared with a year ago.

The association says sales for the month totalled 4,402, a 17 per cent drop from 5,296 in November 2020.

New listings amounted to 5,056, down 14 per cent from 5,848 last November.

The median price of a single-family soared by 21 per cent compared with a year ago to reach $525,000, while condos went up by 18 per cent to hit $374,000 and plexes with two to five units had a 15 per cent spike pushing them to $725,000. 

Apart from condominiums, which saw a slight decline, the association says the median prices were also up from October 2021.

Charles Brant, the association’s director of market analysis, says he noticed a lack of supply and persistently high demand last month that placed pressure on prices and encouraged potential sellers to get into the market. 

“The announcement of an earlier-than-expected rise in interest rates no doubt motivated potential sellers to advance their project in order to benefit from the sustained activity and the opportunity to sell at the best price,” he said in a statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Ottawa home prices rose 19% year-over-year in November: real estate board – Globalnews.ca

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Ottawa housing prices continue to climb as 2021 draws to a close. It’s a trend real estate experts expect to continue in 2022.

The Ottawa Real Estate Board said that November’s average sale price for a condo was $432,099, while the typical residential-class home sold for $716,922. Both represented increases of 19 per cent over average sale prices in November 2020.

Though those figures represent significant jumps year-over-year, OREB President Debra Wright says that the month-to-month prices from October to November were relatively steady in the residential market and up seven percent for condos.


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“This is a far better situation than the monthly price escalations we had seen in the first quarter of 2021,” Wright said in a statement. “However, there is no question that supply constraints will continue to place upward pressure on prices until that is remedied.”

RE/MAX said in its 2022 Canadian housing market outlook last week that Ottawa average home price is expected to rise a further five per cent next year. That’s below estimates for other large markets in Ontario, such as Mississauga (14 per cent), Toronto (10 per cent) and Brampton (eight per cent).

In Ottawa as well as those other cities, RE/MAX said home prices could feel pressure as increased immigration levels further constrain supply levels.

Read more:

Canadian homebuyers facing weeks of move-in delays tied to supply chain snags

The OREB projects housing inventory in Ottawa is currently at a one-month supply, with the 1,430 units added to the market last month representing a 27 per cent drop from October and a 13 per cent decline from levels in November 2020.

While sales sit at “30 or so units over the five-year listing average, this is simply not sustainable and is taking us further away from the balanced market that will bring much-needed relief to potential buyers,” Wright said.

OREB members meanwhile sold 1,459 properties in November, a drop from the 1,605 seen in the same month last year. Sales figures were unseasonably high during this period in 2020, however, as more homes were sold in the fall because pandemic-driven lockdowns and general economic anxiety pushed demand from the usually busy spring and summer to later in the year.

November 2021’s sales volumes were still above the five-year average of 1,348 total units sold in November.

Realtors with the OREB have also gotten more involved with rentals in the past year, helping nearly 4,500 tenants find new units so far in 2021 compared with 3,120 such deals this time last year.


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© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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