The British Columbia government introduced legislation Tuesday aimed at preventing tax evasion and money laundering by shining a spotlight on anonymous real estate owners hiding behind shell and numbered companies.
Finance Minister Carole James said the proposed Landowner Transparency Act would create Canada’s first public registry of property owners to compel corporations, trusts and partnerships to disclose the owners of the land they currently have and are purchasing.
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“It will require corporations, trusts and partnerships to be able to include the information around who is an owner of the land, just as citizens do when they register (at the land titles office),” James said at a news conference after presenting the bill in the legislature.
She said a lack of transparency in some aspects of real estate ownership is one of the challenges the government faces with money laundering and tax fraud. James noted that a 2016 report by Transparency International Canada indicated nearly one-third of the 100 most valuable residential properties in Metro Vancouver were owned by shell companies.