Five organizations representing key professions in the B.C. real estate sector have submitted joint recommendations to the provincial and federal governments to help protect B.C.’s housing market from money laundering. They include mandatory anti-money laundering education programs for all real estate professionals.
In the submission, the organizations also commit to shared best practices to help keep the proceeds of organized crime out of the economy. All of the organizations say they have fully supported and participated in the government’s investigations into money laundering and real estate.
The participating organizations are the British Columbia Real Estate Association, the Appraisal Institute of Canada – B.C. Association, B.C. Notaries Association, Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association – British Columbia, and the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
Here are the recommendations:
1. Accept only verified funds
For sectors of real estate that are not already required to do so, we recommend that they accept funds only in forms that are verifiable through Canadian financial institutions.
2. Mandatory anti-money laundering education
We recommend the introduction of mandatory anti-money laundering education for all real estate professionals subject to the reporting requirements administered by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) to ensure that those professionals are trained in recognizing and reporting suspicious transactions. FINTRAC should work with sector organizations, regulators and the provincial government to improve existing resources so that they better reflect real-world situations and improve compliance.
3. Smart regulation
We recommend that the federal government amend the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act to allow FINTRAC intelligence to be made available to additional regulatory authorities, including the B.C. Securities Commission and the Financial Institutions Commission. Optimally, the federal and provincial governments, as well as their respective agencies, should co-ordinate their actions, share information, such as the provincial assignment registry, and create a comprehensive, efficient enforcement regime.
4. Ongoing engagement
We recommend governments and regulatory agencies, including FINTRAC, better utilize on-the-ground experience of real estate professionals to develop compliance resources and test policy ideas. This will result in well-crafted, practical regulation and foster a culture of compliance to protect consumers and the economy.
5. Timely and transparent reporting
We recommend that FINTRAC implement a framework to identify and report trends on a regular basis and in language that is consistent and understandable to professionals, the public and media. This reporting system should also include consistency in examinations with immediate feedback designed to help industry professionals improve their compliance systems.