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

Third straight loss ends Langley’s Junior B Thunder season

The local squad could not snare a win against the Port Coquitlam Saints.

Giants bringing Point Roberts talent to Langley

The Vancouver Giants have announced a new signing.

VIDEO: New doctors, but fewer spaces for patients in Langley

Retirements have left some Langley residents without a family physician.

Throwback Thursday: July 19, 2018

Can you help us caption a photo from Langley’s past?

Langley Thunder stop Shamrocks

The local lacrosse season is close to wrapping up.

Here’s what you need to know about Day 2 at the BC Games

From equestrian to volleyball to swimming, all 18 events in full swing here in the Cowichan Valley

BC Wildfire update on 14 major Okanagan blazes

Watch the media briefing on the current fire situation in the Okanagan.

Combined 584g of cocaine, fentanyl and meth found in Abbotsford home

Charges pending against a man and a woman after police execute search warrant on Larch St. home

UPDATE: Abbotsford police seek info from public after man, 32, found dead

IHIT identifies victim as Sukhpreet Grewal, who they say was known to police

2017 wildfires give B.C. mom chance to say thank you to officer who saved her son

An unlikely encounter in the rural community of Likely, near Williams Lake

UPDATED: Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters defy eviction order

Demonstrators at Camp Cloud in Burnaby say they won’t leave, but will meet with city officials

B.C. tent city camper arrested for taking coins from fountain

The man, who built a shelter at a Saanich park, says homeless people are unfairly targeted

Ex-Raptor DeMar DeRozan says goodbye to Toronto on Instagram

The guard was traded to the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green

Okanagan wildfires have potential to become firestorms, says UBC expert

David Andison said to let smaller fires go, to create pockets in the landscape for new forests

Most Read