Police sent from China have been secretly investigating officials suspected of money laundering in Canada, where they are believed to have invested a “staggering” amount into real estate.
Vancouver city officials and police have declined to comment on “Operation Fox Hunt”, which was originally described by Xinhua as a Chinese crackdown on officials suspected of corruption who have fled overseas. Canada is apparently the top choice for corrupt officials, followed by the USA and Australia. While none have extradition treaties with China, Canada signed a deal last year to share assets and information related to corruption.
The presence of Chinese police officers in Canada comes as details emerge of an enormous amount of money that has been invested into real estate by wayward officials. The Province, a newspaper in Vancouver, said millions of dollars have been siphoned out of China and invested into Vancouver real estate. Local addresses in the city have also been linked to a variety of shell companies associated with mainland China connections.
Canadian real estate agents are also keeping their lips sealed. One person quoted by The Province said, “There is huge money laundering coming into Vancouver, but I don’t know who would tell you on the record, because that would be slitting their own throats.”
David Mulroney, ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012 and a former senior adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, argues that Canada should be doing more to combat the problems posed by corrupt officials taking shelter in Canada. “The U.S. and Canada are key targets for (Operation Fox Hunt) investigators. Both places are popular with corrupt officials because both are highly desirable locations in which to house family members and educate children, and neither has an extradition treaty with China,” he has written.
Kirk Kuester, executive managing director of Colliers International Vancouver, said the amount invested into real estate is “staggering.”
“Some of these groups want to buy the biggest sites in the city and do developments that are comparable to projects in China, but would be on the upper end of anything ever done here,” he said.
Colliers’ Spark Report says the global outflow of Chinese capital hit a record of $18 billion in 2014, and the amount flowing to Canada – specifically Vancouver – is rising.
Previous cases of high-profile fugitives caught and returned to China from Canada include Lai Changxing, an alleged smuggling kingpin who was brought back to China in 2011, and Li Dongzhe, who surrendered himself in 2012 after hiding out in North Vancouver for six years.