Money Laundering though Real Estate Transactions

May 2017

Canada is becoming known as a place where money can be laundered through real estate transactions.

Transparency International, an anti-corruption group based in Berlin, has singled out Canada for failing to monitor the flow of foreign money into Canadian real estate transactions.

Until recently the United States suffered from similar lax standards. The FBI has since begun investigating real estate money laundering in an effort to identify those who facilitate the process. The US Treasury Department has also commenced identifying and tracking buyers of real estate.

In Canada, real estate agents are required to verify the identity of clients who make cash transactions of more than $10,000. This can be done by viewing a drivers licence or birth certificate. FINTRAC is a government agency set up to track money laundering. Records of cash real estate transactions are supposed to be maintained with anything suspicious being reported to FINTRAC.

A CBC report found only eight cash transactions being reported as suspicious over a 40 month period ending in June 2015.

During this time it was reported by the Globe and Mail that banks were assisting wealthy Chinese investors get their money into Canada from China. While this is not necessarily illegal, it is an area of concern given Canada’s growing reputation as a place to launder money.