British Columbia Dirty Money Casino Survey Focuses on Bubble Housing Market
Posted on: July 8, 2018, 10:00 a.m.
Last update on: July 6, 2018, 8:50 a.m.
In British Columbia, an ongoing casino money laundering investigation is about to enter its second phase, and the province’s overheated real estate market will be the target.
Officials last week explained how international criminal organizations were using Vancouver-area casinos to launder their illegally obtained money. the the report was titled “Dirty Money”, and accused the previous Liberal government of turning a blind eye to the organized crime activity unfolding under their noses.
The author of the “Dirty Money” report, Peter German, estimated that more than $ 100 million has been “cleaned up” from BC casinos over the past decade.
German will now begin work on a new report examining a potential side effect of the money laundering scandal: the British Columbia housing market bubble.
Feel the heat
German says the second phase of the investigation will be much trickier than the first, calling it “the biggest beast to fight.”
Finance Minister David Eby agrees, saying “real estate is more difficult, so we want to take the time to do it right”, according to the Globe and Mail.
Officials want to know how criminals were able to use dirty money to finance residential developments and mortgages in British Columbia, as well as the sale of commercial land.
The situation has had an impact on residents of Vancouver, many of whom have been excluded from an overheated market. Even the ramshackle little houses on the outskirts of town regularly cost over a million dollars.
German thinks the two trends are linked, Cameron Muir, chief economist of the BC Real Estate Association, disagrees. He points out that $ 100 million in laundered money is probably not the engine of a $ 37 billion residential real estate industry.
“It doesn’t have a major impact on the housing market,” Muir told The Globe and Mail.
This second report may not be the end of the “Dirty Money” investigation either.
British Columbia Premier John Horgan confirmed this week that a full public inquiry may be needed to remove all layers of the scandal.
“I haven’t ruled it out,” Horgan told reporters at a press conference this week. “I spoke with the attorney general about this today.”
Horgan cited the huge cost of such an investigation as a possible sticking point, but the public doesn’t seem to care. Three in four respondents in British Columbia said they would support a full public inquiry into the matter, according to a new poll.
Whether this next phase of the investigation is finally ordered, however, may depend on the conclusions of the next one.