June 20, 2018 / 6:17 PM / 3 months ago

British Columbia cracks down on hidden ownership amid housing crisis

VANCOUVER, June 20 (Reuters) - British Columbia said on Wednesday it is preparing legislation to crack down on “hidden ownership” in real estate and pledged Canada’s first public registry of property owners, amid concerns that offshore money and criminal investors are helping fuel an affordability crisis.

Real estate investors in British Columbia are currently able to purchase housing using numbered companies, corporations and offshore and domestic trusts, which obscure true ownership and can be used to dodge taxes, the western province’s Minister of Finance Carole James said in a statement.

“British Columbia has developed a reputation as an attractive place to anonymously invest and hide wealth,” she said. “Ending this type of hidden ownership in real estate will help us fight tax evasion, tax fraud and money laundering.” (Reporting by Julie Gordon in Vancouver Editing by James Dalgleish)

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