Protect Ontario’s Burning Real Estate Market From Russian Oligarchs: NDP MP

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Ontario’s buoyant real estate market remains an attractive option for Russian oligarchs looking to hide their money, said NDP MP Jessica Bell.

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The provincial government must create a transparent land registry that forces “secret investors” to disclose their identities to prevent tax evasion and money laundering and to stabilize housing prices, she said.

“A new report from Transparency International Canada reveals that Ontario and Canada are being marketed in Russia and elsewhere as prime locations for money laundering and fraud,” Bell said Tuesday. “Why are Russian oligarchs and other transnational criminals still allowed to take advantage of Ontario’s weak transparency laws and cover up financial crimes in our real estate industry? »

British Columbia concluded that money laundering in its real estate market had driven home prices up 5% in a single year, she said.

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The UK is taking action against illegal activity in its housing sector, but a similar bill in the Ontario legislature has been dragging on for months, she said.

“Why is this government allowing anonymous investors to drive up the cost of housing beyond what Ontarians can afford? Bell said.

In a statement released on February 28, the British government said it was introducing the Economic Crimes (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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“The new legislation will help the National Crime Agency stop foreign owners laundering their money into UK property and ensure that more corrupt oligarchs can receive an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO),” a UK government statement read. “The new register will require anonymous foreign owners of UK property to reveal their true identities to ensure criminals cannot hide behind secret chains of front companies, setting a new global standard for transparency. Entities that fail to declare their “beneficial owner” will face restrictions on selling their property, and those who break the rules could face up to five years in prison. »

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Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy noted that his fall economic statement outlines new measures to prevent and detect the use of corporations for tax evasion, money laundering and fraud. other illicit financial activities.

“We are taking action,” Bethlenfalvy said.

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