In “Seizures of undeclared cash spike at Vancouver International Airport“, reporters for The Globe & Mail did a lot of good reporting work and present interesting information on customs cash seizures from Chinese nationals occurring in Canada.
For instance, in the past 3 years customs seized $13 million dollars from 792 Chinese nationals passing through the airport. The average seizure was $17,000. The substance of the article is that these people are bringing the money into the country to get it out of China’s economy (which they fear may crash), to buy homes and/or invest in real estate. This has artificially inflated the property values in cities like Vancouver, and the government there imposed a tax on foreign purchasers of real estate to cool the market. We’ve previously blogged about this in Cash From China Seized Due to Capital Controls and Why some Chinese travel with cash leading to airport seizures.
If you’re interested in customs cash seizures, you should definitely check out the entire article. However, I’ll quote what I find most interesting below:
As Vancouver’s housing market began sizzling, border guards at the nearby international airport were seizing millions of dollars in undeclared cash from Chinese citizens, with total amounts jumping 50 per cent in each of the past three calendar years, government data show.
According to the information, released to The Globe and Mail by a New Democrat MLA, during that period, border guards confiscated more than $13-million in hidden currency from 792 Chinese people passing through Vancouver International Airport, which is Canada’s second-busiest after Toronto. The average person had $17,000 in hidden bills, bank notes or drafts.
That is in addition to the $323-million declared at the airport by 20,000 Chinese citizens or passengers on flights to and from that country, during roughly the same period, according to data released to The Globe through a freedom of information request.
Experts say these sums of hidden and declared money, which dwarf the funds brought through the airport from other countries, were likely carried by some of the 922,000 people from China recently given 10-year temporary visas, which allow them to visit for up to six months at a time.
Former RCMP investigator and financial crimes specialist Kim Marsh said many travellers bring large amounts of money – or bank notes or drafts – instead of transferring them through institutional routes because they want to avoid paying taxes in Canada and get around Chinese currency laws that make it illegal for the average citizen to take more than $50,000 (U.S.) a year out of that country.
[ . . . ]
Daniel Kiselbach, a Vancouver-based tax litigator, said the vast majority of Chinese citizens bringing large amounts of cash into B.C. are “just trying to get along in life and they have legitimate reasons for having the money in their possession,” such as buying gifts for family members or paying for living expenses at university.
He said that these visitors have many disincentives to report their assets to the Chinese government and are likely just as suspicious of how information on their finances will be handled in Canada.
“Maybe that would get back to the Chinese government, I don’t know,” Mr. Kiselbach said.
Two years ago, Mr. Kiselbach tried to get Ottawa to divulge whether it has an agreement to share such information with China, as it does with the United States and other Commonwealth countries. Canada Border Services Agency does not make these agreements public, he said.
Vancouver MLA David Eby, housing critic for the opposition New Democrats, said he is concerned that the amount of cash seized from Chinese citizens at YVR rose from $2.8-million in 2013 to $6.4-million last year.
[. . . ]
Anyone can bring as much money as they want in or out of Canada as long as they declare any sum of $10,000 or more – otherwise it could be seized. Border guards at Vancouver airport confiscated $19-million in undeclared cash from 2013 to 2015, with almost three quarters of it belonging to Chinese citizens. (Upwards of 3,200 passengers arrive each day from flights originating in Hong Kong and mainland China, according to data from the airport.)
Experts say Chinese travellers could have several reasons for not declaring assets.
Mr. Kiselbach added that CBSA likely ramped up the scrutiny on Chinese passengers because it gives increased attention to citizens from countries deemed a high risk for activities such as money laundering and financing terrorism.
Hayley Howe, an anti-money laundering expert at Vancouver-based consulting firm MNP, said many foreign visitors may be unaware of Canada’s currency reporting requirements or unable to read the customs form properly when they enter or exit the country.
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