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From red hot to hazardous: Why B.C. real estate became the focus of a money laundering inquiry

By Jen St. Denis for The Star

Canada’s rental market saw little change over the past month, according to the May 2019 report from Padmapper.

VANCOUVER—Money laundering “distorted” the B.C. real-estate market, hiking prices by as much as 20 per cent in Vancouver, the province’s finance minister said during an announcement of a long-awaited public inquiry into dirty money.

The inquiry, which will have the power to subpoena witnesses and make court applications for records, came after the release of three reports detailing the presence of money laundering in B.C. casinos, real estate and luxury cars. The reports also highlighted Canada’s weak money-laundering laws and under-resourced policing system.

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“Last week’s expert panel report estimated for the first time the extent of money laundering infiltrating our economy, particularly our red-hot real-estate market,” said Minister Carole James during a Wednesday press conference.

“The panel’s estimate of $7 billion being laundered in B.C. was more than anyone thought.”

Economists say a multitude of factors — some legal, some not — caused the enormous run-up in housing prices that peaked in 2016.

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