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Real estate agencies to help money laundering fight, but ask for more transparency

Condo and office towers fill the downtown skyline in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 30, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Some key stakeholders are promising to help the province to get dirty money out of the industry but they’re also demanding more transparency from government.

The biggest players in B.C.’s real estate sector are promising mandatory anti-money laundering education for all real estate professionals, but they also want better communication with the government.

“Right now, you have a fairly fractured approach here,” says CEO of the BC Real Estate Association Darlene Hyde. “There’s very little information out there about who’s been fined, who’s been prosecuted, what typical audit findings might be.”

She says part of the problem is a failure by FINTRAC, the federal agency responsible for tracking financial fraud, to share data in a timely manner.

“So that all of the people responsible for regulation and enforcement are singing off the same song sheet,” she adds.

This comes a week after we learned no federal Mounties are dedicated to investigating money laundering in B.C. and as we wait for a report to be made public on how this type of crime is impacting real estate.

“We look forward to working with government on making money laundering a thing of the past.” Hyde adds.

RELATED: Money laundering report finds no federal Mounties dedicated to B.C. investigations

She says agents across the province are already taking steps to better educate themselves –including more than 22-thousand BCREA members.

“Doing more and more professional development. That’s just the price of doing business in terms of holding a professional credential…. Be aware of unexplained wealth. Where’s the origin of the money for real estate purchases and that will go a long way to making sure that suspicious transactions are reported. Bottom line, realtors want to do the right thing.”

She tells NEWS 1130 she’s also looking forward to seeing what comes from the latest government-commissioned report by retired senior Mountie Peter German.

“I think there’s much more to be done, but it’s probably beyond our scope. More coming from regulators or more coming from the police, but we’re doing what we can do.”

Other groups working with the BCREA are the Appraisal Institute of Canada, BC Notaries Association, Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association and Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.