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Douglas Todd: Will Canada stop acting passively against oligarchs?

Opinion: Most states allow wealthy foreigners to buy real estate in Canada while hiding their identities.

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Will Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine ultimately shake Canadian politicians and destroy the world’s oligarchs and thieves?

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Shocked by the West, one of the few ways to fight a rogue country like Russia is to impose sanctions on billionaires who benefit from intimate connections with corrupt influential people like Vladimir Putin. You may have noticed that there is.

Britain is leading global accusations against huge villains laundering dirty money through democratic real estate. Will Canada finally stop talking about revealing their secret wealth, often stolen from their own people, and take regulatory action to actually expose them?

London is often referred to as the “London Grade” because so many real estates have been robbed by Russians, and the British government cannot buy homes, farms or condos this week while foreigners are hiding, regardless of their origin. Submitted an economic crime bill to be anonymous.

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The new UK real estate registration applies to homes purchased by foreigners over the last 20 years. In this home, the name of the true owner is hidden behind the company, trust, or agent. Penalties are up to 5 years in prison. There are more than 87,000 real estate managed by offshore companies in the UK, and most actual owners are unknown.

Ottawa and most state governments, with the exception of BC, passively sit down and allow global money laundering through real estate, but a few investigative journalists want to hide in Canadian luxury homes. I’m trying to investigate malicious people who are robbing the place.

Global News Journalist Sam Cooper This week reveals how high-flying oligarchs from China, Xi’an Jianhua, bought $ 154 million in Toronto real estate before being accused by Beijing of laundering corruption and bribery revenues in foreign markets. I made it. Xian was arrested five years ago and has not been seen since.

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Last month, South China Morning Post reporter Ian Young revealed how another Vancouver oligarchy, Liu Baofeng, was detained in China.Post discovered it a few years ago, while dirty money flowed into Canada from numerous dictatorships and failed states, especially Russia and Iran, as well as Bangladesh, Haiti, West African countries, Venezuela, etc. 26 out of 100 most desired in China Canada has become the most common bolthole in China because individuals were believed to be in Canada.

Executive Director of Transparency International, James CohenInvestigative journalism says it will definitely help build a case where dirty money is widespread in Canada. But the government must be responsible for stopping the politically influential and wealthy oligarchy from making it easier to bury unobtainable assets in real estate.

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Why are politicians so reluctant?

The complexity of tracking dirty money is often the reason for doing nothing. The technology of setting up registries that reveal identities does not always capture the hearts of voters.

And politicians join the real estate industry to curb the effects of money laundering.

“I try not to be cynical about the worst reason the law isn’t moving forward, but at least I can say that a bureaucratic log jam slows things down,” Cohen said.

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And politicians often soften millionaires. “We talk a lot about money laundering, but it’s just as important to wash our reputation.”

Moneyland: Oliver Bullough’s story behind world-dominant scammers and Creptocrats shows how public relations firms hone the reputation of villains moving huge amounts of illegal assets from their volatile countries to real estate. Is explained.

Public relations companies help money launderers around the world “love the communities they participate in.” They please themselves by giving money to controversial things like museums, “Cohen said.

“They also start political contributions. They give up a bit of crooked profits to show that they are good. They create the next cloud:” Don’t touch me. “

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And it works. Law enforcement officials who suddenly get attention and start tracking dubious deals for people who look generous find that they can lose their jobs if they make a mistake.

“And if journalists snoop, they can beat them with a bunch of defamation proceedings, which scare them or fill them with attorney’s fees.”

Until recently, it was not possible to know who really owns a large amount of real estate in British Columbia, but Transparency International Canada analyzed 100 of Vancouver’s most expensive real estate sales in 2016 and said, “Cases. Found it in almost 50% of all. No one knows who the real owner is. “

Another TI study of anonymous real estate in Toronto found that in 10 years, a quarter of home sales hadn’t been scrutinized for money laundering, and companies bought $ 28 billion worth of real estate. rice field. “That doesn’t mean they’re all illegal, but it does mean that there’s a greater risk of dirty money flowing in.”

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A Transparency International survey of anonymously owned Toronto real estate found that a quarter were not properly scrutinized for money laundering.
A Transparency International survey of anonymously owned Toronto real estate found that a quarter were not properly scrutinized for money laundering.

“We will release a large number of homes without hitting a single nail,” Cohen said, given that Money Launderer’s suspect swallowed a large amount of Canadian housing stock.

And as it is unforgettable, not all dirty money comes from offshore.

“It’s not just Russia and China. Dirty domestic money is also flying around in real estate. Here you have your own drug dealers, tax evaders and corrupt companies.”

While the Ukrainian aggression has finally pushed the global money laundering crisis into the minds of politicians, Cohen said it was a pity that the previous warning signs were not paid attention to.

According to Cohen, the Western world should be warned that the affordable housing crisis, opioid disasters, global inequality, and even environmental crimes “must give up their dependence on dirty money.” It was said that it was.

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BC NDP has led the way in enabling all companies and trusts that own assets to track illegal money by requiring them to identify beneficiaries.Ontario oppose The NDP has proposed a similar law. Other states need to strengthen anti-corruption laws.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party promised to bring in a suitable land registry in the last election, until 2025.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Treasury Minister Chrystia Freeland (from Ukraine) join British politicians to tackle the horror of Russia’s aggression and urgently need anti-money laundering legislation. You can expect to proceed to.

dtodd@postmedia.com


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Douglas Todd: Will Canada stop acting passively against oligarchs?

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