Fraser Valley real estate brokers have received a “very strongly worded” warning of a money laundering strategy their offshore investor clients may attempt.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) – which covers North Delta, Surrey, White Rock, Langley Township, Langley City, Abbotsford and Mission – sent a memo on May 18 to its members.
“It has come to our attention that overseas clients may be asking realtors to allow money to be transferred to their personal accounts so that the Realtors can arrange a bank draft to give to the sellers/developers for their purchase,” the notice reads, in part. “It’s important everyone understands that this violates federal income tax laws, Fintrac [anti-money laundering] laws and the Real Estate Services Act. It is extremely important to ensure that any exchange of funds is legitimate, legal and ethical before members agree to participate.”
Participating in such activity can incur up to $250,000 in fines, the letter warns.
Such a transaction could be used to launder money from illegal sources, FVREB president Gopal Sahota told The News.
“We sent this very strongly worded blurb out to our brokers for them to know that this is a serious thing,” he said.
There have been no reported cases of such an illegal transaction being completed or attempted, according to Gopal, who said the letter was sent as “a proactive approach.”
“Anytime we hear of a rumour, we want to keep on top of these things.,” he said. “We kind of use it as a teachable opportunity to educate the membership.”