A new report by Transparency International Canada says anonymous companies and trusts are easy to set up in Canada and help criminals amass and hide illicit wealth.
The report is drawn from Canada-specific case studies and original research into the luxury property sector in Vancouver.
Little is known about who really owns some of the luxury property in Canada.
The report says:
- In Canada, more rigorous identity checks are done for individuals getting library cards than for those setting up companies.
- Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of the Panama Papers, marketed Canada to its clients as an attractive place to set up anonymous companies.
- Nearly 70 percent of money laundering cases and 50 percent of terrorist financing cases in Canada involve the use of corporate structures.
- A suspect is identified in less than 20 percent of money laundering cases in Canada. Only one third of the cases that go to trial result in a guilty verdict.
- Of the 100 most valuable residential properties in Vancouver, 46 percent are owned through companies, trusts, or nominees.
- 26 percent of the most expensive Vancouver properties sold in the last five years are owned on paper by students or homemakers.
TI-Canada said the government hasn’t acted on pledges in international forums such as the G20 “and secrecy prevails.”
Other countries have tightened their laws but “Canada risks becoming a haven for corrupt capital,” the group said.
The report — No Reason to Hide: Unmasking the Anonymous Owners of Canadian Companies and Trusts — is available here.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.