Painful Truth: Greed, real estate, and criminals

Crooks with cash have been putting it into Metro Vancouver land.

It’s probably not the best time to be a money launderer in B.C.

The best time, as we’re learning through a series of media reports, was anytime in the last three or four years. Now, finally, the police, casinos, and provincial and federal governments are beginning to crack down, if only in fits and starts.

In late March, B.C. Attorney General David Eby announced that suspicious cash transactions at B.C. casinos had plummeted. Over the past few years, it turns out people had been turning up at B.C. casinos with millions in cash each month, converting it into poker chips and then back to “clean” money.

This is less a case of the fox guarding the hen house, and more a case of the fox inviting over all his friends, selling the eggs, and using the profits to buy real estate.

And that’s the other side of this situation. We don’t know – and we may never know – how much of Metro Vancouver’s insanely inflated real estate market was caused by local and overseas criminals needing somewhere to stash their cash.

A series of court cases, lawsuits, and criminal investigations are slowly revealing a system in which money launderers and high-rolling gamblers invested in pricey homes.

It’s a chicken and egg situation. The criminals invest in real estate because it’s a safe place to stash their cash, with a nice return on investment. Their buying sprees in turn cause the prices to get jacked up higher, which makes it even more attractive for crooks and speculators, and so on and so on.

So what happens if the crackdown lets some air out of the balloon?

Recent stats from Langley and Surrey keep showing strong growth.

But in Vancouver, sales are down. In some home categories, even prices are going down – sharply, according to some tracking websites.

It might be a blip. It might be seasonal. Prices might start going up again and not stop until only oil billionaires and pop stars can own property.

But maybe not this time. Fingers crossed.

Just Posted

#GetHired at the Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair today

‘We contact companies that we know are either looking to hire’

Letter: Langley Township could be truly innovative in Williams neighbourhood

A local letter writer calls on local government to plan for the future.

Looking Back: The potato club shuts down!

Our community’s history through the files of the Langley Advance

Our View: Shopping mix in Langley tough

As Langley grows, we need to consider what kind of commercial development we want.

VIDEO: Take a tour of the new $55.2-million Salish Secondary in North Clayton

Hundreds came out for the public open house on Wednesday night

Canadian musician duets with ancestral Indigenous voices on debut album

Toronto’s Jeremy Dutcher has mixed his operatic tenor with his Wolastoq First Nation roots

WATCH: Oldest longhouse in the Fraser Valley to be rebuilt in Chilliwack

Longhouse fundraising gala at Tzeachten Hall, May 5 puts spotlight on Indigenous art

COLUMN: Stanley Cup playoff second-round predictions

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins continue their quest for their third straight Stanley Cup

B.C. seeks court ruling on new pipeline regulations

Province wants to require permits for any new bitumen transport

LIVE: TSB findings on plane crash that killed former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice

The TSB will announce its findings and the Capital News will follow.

Former child watchdog to head UBC centre on residential schools

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to lead university’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre

Man dead after possible attack near Vancouver casino

A 38-year-old man with ‘serious injures’ was rushed to hospital but died in surgery

5 to start your day

3-alarm fire guts East Vancouver print shop, prison escapee back in custody and more

Toronto sports fans come together in wake of van attack

Police probe Toronto van attack as details emerge

Most Read