The Organisme d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec (OACIQ) says it is “extremely concerned” about the content of the March 19 edition of Radio-Canada’s Enquête, about money laundering through real estate transactions.



In a hidden camera investigation, the program sent an employee to visit five randomly selected real estate brokers. He pretended to be a client wishing to acquire a luxury residence in Montreal and told the brokers that he intended to pay with money from drug trafficking and that he would never give his ID.

After a meeting, all five brokers agreed to work with the false client, including his condition for using a nominee. Three of them sent a draft pre-filled offer to purchase.

“The OACIQ takes the situation very seriously. In light of the report that was broadcast, it appears that the brokers’ ethical obligations were breached.

The OACIQ’s syndic is, of course, aware of this and will take all appropriate measures,” says Caroline Champagne, vice-president, enforcement of practices at the OACIQ.

Under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, real estate brokers and agencies are required to report suspicious transactions and attempted suspicious transactions to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) when they have reasonable grounds to suspect a money laundering offence.

When the brokers were contacted after the “sting” operation, Radio-Canada reporter Julie Dufresne wrote that they all “vigorously denied having breached their legal obligations.

“Several said they did not think it was money laundering. Others believe that they did not have to worry about identifying the toxic customer since the transaction would have been in the name of his girlfriend,” says Dufresne. “Finally, some say that they wanted to report the questionable customer, but only after the promise to purchase was signed. The law allows brokers to make a suspicious transaction report after having completed the transaction. However, they would not have had any identification from the client.”

Champagne says, “We invite the public and real estate brokers to contact our public assistance department if they witness or are aware of a suspicious transaction or attempted transaction, such as the use of funds from the proceeds of crime in real estate transactions. Rest assured that all information received will be treated confidentially.,”

The OACIQ says it will “take all appropriate measures to ensure that all behaviours that do not comply with the law are investigated and that action is taken as quickly as possible.”

It says it has implemented the following means to counter money laundering:

  • Close collaboration between the OACIQ and FINTRAC over the past 10 years to promote rapid and efficient sharing of information for the purposes of their respective investigations and inspections;
  • Over 2,300 inspections of real estate brokers and agencies are conducted every year to verify compliance with ethical and legal obligations regarding identity verification, cash transactions and FINTRAC standards;
  • 27 training courses on money laundering, fraudulent practices and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act are offered to real estate brokers under their Mandatory Continuing Education Program;
  • Exchanges on best practices for preventing money laundering between members of the Real Estate Regulators of Canada, of which the OACIQ is a member;
  • Investigations by the syndic into any allegation of money laundering and non-compliance with the ethical rules surrounding the laundering of the proceeds of crime;
  • Frequent reminders of broker ethical obligations by various means of communication.

25 COMMENTS

  1. It is amazing & disappointing how some rush to judgement. David Zalepa said it well. If you have ever sat on a jury (as l have) you would realize how foolish it is to accept one side of the story. This does not pass the smell test. Rather than comment on a news story ; why not wait for the results of the investigation ?
    Art Ratelle….Ontario Sales Rep.

  2. I’ve watched entirely the broadcast presented in French. At the beginning, they stated that the properties seen were chosen randomly, although the properties had to be very luxury ones. Indeed, the properties for which they requested showings were listed between $1.2m and $7m. With such listing prices, one would think that the listing agents (or brokers as they are called in Quebec) were not at their first listings. I don’t think the majority of owners of such properties would be confident to sell their houses relying on inexperienced agents to sell their properties. Sadly, I believe the seriousness of the investigation.

  3. Rick, in the investigation, which I’ve watched, they did not say that the “buyer” wanted to pay a down payment or deposit in cash. It was to be paid by cheque (signed by a young woman) through an offshore company.

  4. A CLASS ACTION LAW-SUITE SHOULD BE BROUGHT UP AGAINST RADIO CANADA. IT IS NO DIFFERENT THAN SMEARING MARGINALIZED GROUPS OF ANY NATURE, BUSINESS, CLASS, RACE, ORIGIN, GENDER. THE REPORTERS COMPLETE LOG OF CALLS SHOULD BE SUBPOENAED.

  5. All your comments show your own bias in the real estate industry which is FULL of agents desperate to make a quick buck. Half of all agents in any province sell next to nothing every year, and half of those sell ZERO. Fintrac is almost never dealt with properly, for lack of competence, caring, and it’s difficult to properly comply with and understand. Far beyond the knowledge of most realtors, many of whom can barely read and write English. The commenters here are soapbox realtors, out of touch with the reality of the average realtor who does next to no business and would jump at the chance to make $50-$100k in “quick and easy” commission for a luxury home sale. You simply cannot trust commissioned sales people. Especially desperate ones, but the problem is, the public doesn’t know to look into their sales or background as they all look the same to the public. You can drive leased Audi and barely make the payments, and appear successful.

  6. I believe that the majority of media types harbor a negative bias against real estate sales people. Why? Because most everyone else harbors the same bias. Why? Because commissioned real estate sales is viewed as a breeding ground for dishonesty, and thus it must therefore attract too many of the wrong type of personality. In this case, a few is too many. I believe all of the foregoing to be true. To that end, I believe that the salespeople so selected for scrutiny were targeted by Radio-Canada. Per Greg Panke’s belief, the Radio-Canada investigator likely had advance information on these five “I’ll-sell-anything-to-anyone” professional Realtors. The piece does not stipulate whether or not the investigator asked for the Realtors by name. Were they randomly pre selected from a long list of suspected crooks? To that end, if they did so, kudos to Radio-Canada for exposing these five pros. My question then becomes, why did they stop at only these five? Were thy unable to find any more slippery types, or did they think five would be enough to smear the industry? If this was a legitimate fact-finding exercise, it was not a good job well done. If this was a targeted smear job, looking to smear the entire industry, then Radio-Canada succeeded. But it failed at actually running a proper, scientific experiment of sorts by not testing at least one hundred randomly selected salespeople all over the province without the benefit of foreknowledge of the participants’ known business behaviours. The latter exercise would have provided a much clearer view of the generalized habits and behaviours of Realtors across Quebec.

  7. Unless the reporter already had a really good idea that the brokers he was going to check out were prone to breaking the rules, I would say it is almost impossible to find five in a row who would agree to this.

    As for the possibility of finding individuals who would break the law, there would be more than enough in the GTA, but the odds of finding five in a row are very close to zero no matter how many times it was tried.

    Personal standards today are quite a bit lower than they were thirty years ago, only the honest salespeople and brokers pay attention to the rules and follow them, and they lose business as a result.

    The industry keeps tightening the process up because of that growing problem, but it makes no difference to those who don’t care.

  8. I don’t think we are getting the full story. No sane Brokerage would knowingly do that. Red flags everywhere. No broker is going to risk their brokerage if it went down like Radio Canada reports. I cry BS

  9. This must be “Fake News” No real estate company in Ontario would deal with an obvious drug dealer with no ID and expect to keep their real estate license. Who are these Radio Canada people think they are kidding? Get some reality REM

  10. I find this article hard to believe. I have never had a client request to pay a down payment or deposit in cash in 25 years. And if I did get the request, I would politely say we do not accept cash, as I think every Realtor I know would do as well. Our contract templates specify deposit to be paid by way of bank draft within 24 hours of final subject removal – and we explain this to the Buyers upfront. I have never written or received a contract that specified cash deposit. If I did, my Broker would be calling me in less than 20 seconds. As far as ID, we always get physical proof of ID and take a picture of it for our Fintrac file. The level to which the 5 Brokerages were willing to bend seems over the top and I find it hard to believe they were selected randomly. Last thing, is there any onus on conveyancers to collect Fintrac reporting since they are the ones dealing with the actual payments of these properties?

    As to how the client will pay is usually a discussion the client has

  11. I wish they would publish the brokerages involved or at least the agents at fault!!
    This is nothing but greed and $$$$ signs in people’s eyes. Its sheds such a negative representation of all brokerages. I certainly hope this is dealt with fierce punishment to idividiluals involved.

  12. The question that I have is how many calls did she make while finding only five that agreed to work with the buyer. I can’t believe for the life of me that she could make five random call and all five agreed to work with the buyer. Not Fake News its misleading news. Equal time should be given to her showing her investigation outline to off set the damage she may have done to the real estate industry and maybe her job should be on the line.

  13. A Joke. One of the major reasons for price increases of Canadian real estate is the billions being laundered by offshore buyers. And our government claims to be trying to stop it. A Joke.

  14. It’s truly unbelievable that these Quebec agents would agree to do business with a “drug dealer” who would not provide ID. If I owned the brokerage, they would be fired yesterday.

  15. This blatant disregard for the law in five out of five brokerages is so egregious that I find it very difficult to believe. After all the training and material that has been offered by boards across the country, I would think that any member of organized real estate would have to have been living under a rock for the last number of years to not recognize this “opportunity” as being totally illegal. Hopefully there is more to this story.

  16. David, why would Radio-Canada, a public funded entity, do a “publicity stunt” of this magnitude at a time like this? Any active Realtor who has a basic comprehension of what has been happening in the hot markets of Canadian real estate this past decade will not be surprised by this report. We have a huge problem in Canada with money-laundering & real estate.

  17. These brokerages should be heavily fined, on probation for 5 Years and disclosed to the public. We have enough problems being respected by the public. We do not need more fuel to add to the fire.

  18. This story does not even sound credible. Would a criminal really walk into a Brokerage, disclose that they plan to purchase a property with the intent of using proceeds from crime? I would imagine a Brokerage would believe this to be a joke. Highly unlikely. Sounds like this was a bad publicity stunt by Radio Canada.

  19. That is totally disgusting and affects the credibility of all real estate agents. We try to build up the professional image of agents and then something like this happens. They should lose their licences forever.

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