VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It just doesn’t happen in our dealership. That’s what we’re hearing from local high-end car franchise after the latest details of the province’s money laundering report pointed fingers at the purchases of luxury cars.
Mark Edmonds, general manager of Ferrari Maserati Vancouver, says they don’t see people walking in with grocery bags full cash to buy cars.
“It’s not that people will pay with large sums. But it does happen where people will pay their service bills with cash … $6,000 or $7,000 — occasionally, a little over, $10,000 or $12,000. We’ve never brought more than $20,000 to the bank in one swoop.”
Edmonds says he was disappointed with the report, which was released Tuesday. “It seems to tar all luxury dealers with the same brush.”
“This report is disturbing confirmation that money laundering in B.C. is a problem that certainly goes beyond casinos. In the luxury car market, there’s no financial reporting of large cash purchases, no oversight of international bank wire transfers, and no apparent investigation or enforcement,” B.C. Attorney General David Eby said on Tuesday.
Of the notion that someone would walk into a luxury car dealership in Vancouver with $200,000 cash to buy a vehicle, Edmonds says, “That doesn’t happen here.”
“I’m not saying it doesn’t happen in the industry,” he added.
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Edmonds says over the past 12 years or so, only a couple of people have asked to pay more than $50,000 in cash. He says his dealership would never accept it. “[I would] redirect them back to their bank, tell them I’m not taking it. They should go to their bank and get a draft, payable to me in the amount owed on the car. But I’ve never had somebody actually say that.”
“We’ll tell them, flat-out, ‘I cannot accept cash unless you’re willing to sign a declaration explaining where you got it from. I will be supplying that to the bank. The bank will be supplying that to FINTRAC.”
He notes there was one situation where he thought a customer was going to follow through with such a transaction.
“I called our banker and said I need a copy of the FINTRAC reporting form so I can get this guy to sign it,” he said.
Edmonds says the customer wanted to pay a “couple hundred thousand” dollars for the vehicle. “I said no. He goes, ‘It’s legal tender.’ He claimed he owned a bar and that’s why he had cash. I said, ‘Deposit it in your bank, then. Bring me a bank draft.'”
He says that transaction did not go through.
He points out his franchise represents a huge company and argues it would be foolish to risk such a transaction.
“If they pull my franchise, we’re done. You wouldn’t risk your entire business to do [a handful] of these money laundering sales. I’m certain that the same would be for the other factory stores — be it McLaren, Lamborghini, Bentley, or Aston Martin. I don’t think you would take cash because the risk is just far too great — not to mention it being illegal.”
Another part of the money laundering report, done by a former senior Mountie, is expected to be released soon.
– With files from Marcella Bernardo, Martin MacMahon, Estefania Duran