Real estate industry follows the rules

Re: “Lack of B.C. money laundering controls cited by AG,” Aug. 1.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby should understand the detail of an issue before making statements encouraged by sensation-seeking reporters.

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This article implied that the real estate industry was complicit in money-laundering schemes.

The federal government watchdog known as FINTRAC required the real estate industry to report details of cash received in the amount of $10,000 or more. It also required the industry to maintain personal information about citizens involved in any real estate sale.

I do not know of any real estate company that has been charged and convicted for money-laundering. I do know of companies that have been audited by FINTRAC and received letters of advice as to how they can keep better records. These findings might be the infractions indicated by FINTRAC in the article, but this in no way should be confused with money-laundering.

Generally, real estate companies do not handle cash. In most cases, deposits are made by cheques that are held in trust accounts. Real estate companies are not the recipients of hockey bags full of cash.

Lawyers attend to the completion of the transaction, and it might be that they receive a bag full of cash. Interestingly, FINTRAC exempted the legal profession from reporting based on “client privilege.” However, in B.C. the Law Society has regulations governing the receipt of cash by lawyers.

For the attorney general of the province to imply that the real estate industry at large is condoning money-laundering is a distortion of the facts.

Bev Highton


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