B.C. introduces a new legislation for public registry of property owners in Canada

In order to create a public registry of property owners in Canada, the BC government has recently introduced new legislation. It is said to be the first of its kind legislation implemented for putting an end to the use of trusts, corporations, and partnerships to shield transactions from public view.

The consensus of opinion has been in favor of the move, as it puts British Columbia out front in a global movement to crack down on tax evasion and money laundering in the realty sector.

“Based on initial review, we applaud the government of B.C. for putting forward this needed legislation,” said James Cohen, executive director of Transparency International Canada.

“Canada has been criticized globally for our lax beneficial ownership legislation and this is one step forward to correcting the problem,” he added.

This Land Owner Transparency Act is likely to establish a public registry of beneficial owners of property in the province.

A statement by the B.C. Finance Minister Carole James called the legislation “one of the key steps our government is taking to ensure homes in B.C. are used for people, not speculative investment or money laundering.”

As a matter of fact, it has been proposed amidst the increasing concerns about potential money laundering in the realty and other sectors.

According to a 2016 report of Vancouver’s real estate by the Transparency International Canada,   around one-third of the 100 most valuable residential properties in Greater Vancouver were owned by shell companies.

An account of extensive money-laundering taking place in the province’s casinos was highlighted by a government-commissioned report released last year.

Talking about the B.C.’s proposed legislation, Denis Meunier, a consultant and former director of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, said, “I think the province is actually leading the country.”

“What it would mean is that there would be a need for businesses that are covered by the legislation to do much better know-your-client or due diligence,” Mr. Meunier said.

“Sometimes when you have really complex structures, they’re like Russian dolls,” he added, talking about the dolls that open up to reveal another doll inside.

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