In 2001 when Gordon Campbell became premier of this province, he amended the Business Corporations Act, by declaring a law (Section 49) that prevented the media from visiting a corporate registered records office to find out who owns the company.
This was a thorny issue with Transparency International Canada, which has been saying all along, that owners of shell companies have been using this shield to buy real estate in the province anonymously.
In 2016, the executive director Alesia Nahirny said in a news release, “Individuals can use shell companies, trusts and nominees to hide their beneficial interest in Canadian real estate. This makes property attractive for money laundering, deprives the government of tax revenue, and hinders data collection, making it difficult to analyze the impacts these ownership structures have on the real estate market.”
The current provincial government is looking at changing this soon, and there is consultation going on about bringing in legislation to establish a new, publicly accessible registry, on who owns real estate in BC.
A tweet by NDP MLA Bowinn Ma declared “This fall we’ll be introducing legislation to give transparency over the individuals behind property-owning shell companies and trusts.”
Finance minister Carol James has also announced that her ministry will require more information when a real estate transaction is made through a trust or corporation. Starting September 17, all property transfer tax returns for trusts and corporations will require the beneficial owner’s name, date of birth, citizenship information, contact details and tax information.
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