Canada’s weak money-laundering laws, especially when it comes to real estate monitoring, has left areas like British Columbia vulnerable as an attractive place to store ill-gotten cash. The main way this works is through buying real estate with little to no information to verify the identity of those involved in the purchasing. In 2018 alone, $5 billion was laundered through real estate in British Columbia.
Many proprietors of ill-gotten funds will often attempt to hide them by first mixing them with legitimate proceeds. This can include something like a business they operate. They then will transfer these funds into a bank, which are limited in how much information they can gather about the client’s day-to-day transactions. Finally, these funds are funneled into shell companies, or companies known to only be made for financial juggling, and then in some cases use those companies to buy up real estate in tax havens that will allow for tax breaks as well as the anonymity they require.
For these launderers, houses, condominium floors, and mansions can all act as a sort of bank account. While it may not be physically active money, they are assists in the form of bricks-and-mortars that keep their finances safe and sound. This system usually leaves a good portion of vacant properties, which naturally causes real estate prices to rise.