A new report suggests half of B.C.’s most expensive homes are owned by offshore shell companies and trusts.
Using Vancouver’s housing market for their case study, Transparency International looked into the highest valued properties here and found 25 per cent were owned by shell companies, four per cent by offshore shell companies, 11 per cent were owned by nominees other than the owner and 6 per cent were owned by trusts.
NDP Housing Critic David Eby says the report’s findings are sparking more money laundering fears.
“Most of the shell companies purchased the property within the last few years and before that it was the exception, not the rule that people held property in that way and that suggests to me that this a trend towards obscuring the source of money or to avoid taxes.”
He says not knowing who owns a home can lead to tax evasion.
“When you have almost half of the most expensive homes here owned by somebody who you can’t figure out who it is because they are using some kind of shell company to obscure their ownership it raises questions of tax evasion and money laundering.”
Transparency International is calling for a public registry of beneficial ownership of trusts, companies and properties to combat money laundering and tax evasion.