Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Dirty cash probe - booming Vancouver-China luxury car trade

UBC has been called the University of Beautiful Cars for its student-owned fleet of supercars.Grocery bags full of cash hauled into car dealerships. Gangsters paying for auto leases with proceeds of crime. A thriving grey market in which Chinese buyers pay people to purchase cars in Vancouver and claim millions in sales tax refunds. Those are some of the scams uncovered by the provincial government’s latest probe into dirty money in Vancouver. Vancouver’s parade of supercars has long raised eyebrows.4,400 grey market vehicles were exported to China in 2018 from less than 100 in 2013.
The son of a Chinese tycoon bought a C$5.1m (US$3.8m) custom Bugatti in Vancouver with his father’s Union Pay credit card, according to a picture of the invoice he posted on Instagram to complain about Canadian taxes. Ding Chen published a copy of the bill bearing his father Chen Mailin’s name on his Instagram posts, with a message overlaid in Chinese: “These taxes … my heart feels tired”.

The 5% federal GST added C$210,404 with provincial taxes adding C$697,939.
The bill includes a 1.7 per cent Union Pay fee. Chen’s Instagram account was closed or locked down around an hour after a story was published.

China’s Union Pay credit cards have been the subject of increasing scrutiny as a conduit for money out of the country. China has an annual cash export limit of US$50,000, and Union Pay says it enforces an annual overseas cash withdrawal limit of 100,000 yuan (US$14,880).

Ding Chen in a selfie
The address of his home on Vancouver’s Drummond Drive was whited-out but is still readable. The address is that of a palatial home purchased by Chen Mailin in 2015 for C$51.8m.
Mailin is a former member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s legislative advisory body. According to a corporate disclosure last year Chen Mailin is a permanent Canadian resident.