British Columbia is stepping up its fight against financial misdeeds, such as fraud, tax evasion and money laundering, with plans for a new land registry that aims to unmask the true owners of property in the province.
The provincial government introduced legislation on Tuesday to establish Canada’s first publicly searchable registry detailing the beneficial owners of property in the province.
Under the proposed Landowner Transparency Act, corporations, trusts and partnerships that own land in the province will be required to disclose their beneficial owners. The new law aims to combat the use of shell companies and other corporate entities to hide assets.
“Tax authorities, law enforcement agencies and relevant regulators will have access to more detailed information and may use it to crack down on tax evasion, fraud and money laundering,” the province said in a release.
Additionally, the government introduced amendments to its corporate legislation “to crack down on tax evasion and money laundering by requiring private companies to hold accurate and up-to-date information about the true owners of their shares, and eliminating bearer shares.”
“This registry will make information about the true owners of B.C. real estate publicly available and help crack down on illegal activities. It is one of the key steps our government is taking to ensure homes in B.C. are used for people, not speculative investment or money laundering,” said Carole James, B.C.’s minister of finance.