Billions in dirty cash helped fuel Vancouver's housing boom

The Japan Times 

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - Vancouver penthouses, ski chalets at Whistler, and holiday retreats in Persian Gulf islands are among the thousands of properties identified in a dirty-money probe that estimates more than 7 billion Canadian dollars ($5 billion) was laundered through British Columbia last year. The startling findings from two reports released by the provincial government Thursday illustrate how a torrent of suspicious cash has fueled casinos, luxury car sales and real estate in the Pacific Coast region. "The amount of money being laundered in B.C. is more than anyone predicted," Finance Minister Carole James told reporters Thursday, referring to the western Canadian province. In real estate alone, an estimated C$5 billion may have been laundered last year in the province -- equivalent to 4.6 percent of all transactions by value in that period, according to one of the reports. In the Vancouver region, where housing prices rose more than 70 percent in five years, "I certainly believe that money laundering played a part," James said.