Hong Kong tycoon linked to offshore tax havens flipping $18M Vancouver house through shell company

By ThinkPol Staff

A Hong Kong property tycoon known as the “King of Shell Companies,” whose name appears in the Offshore Leaks database of tax haven clients, is trying to sell a house in Vancouver Westside for $18.88 million after buying it just three months ago for $14.12 million.

A British Columbia shell company called Joyful Holdings Ltd bought the property on the 4700 block of West 2nd Avenue on December 12, 2017, according to Land Titles and Survey Authority records for the property.

On March 12, 2017, exactly three month after buying the property, the owner put the Point Grey home, assessed at $14.1 million[1]https://www.bcassessment.ca/Property/Info/QTAwMDAwMDBIUQ==, back on the market[2]https://www.zolo.ca/vancouver-real-estate/4777-w-2nd-avenue.

BC corporate records show that the sole director of Joyful Holdings Ltd is Wilson Wai San Pong, who’s known in Hong Kong as “King of Shell Companies”[3]http://www.thestandard.com.hk/section-news.php?id=172547&sid=21.

A search of the address listed on the BC corporate registry as the director’s mailing address on the Hong Kong stock exchange reveals that another of the real estate tycoon’s other shell companies are also registered there[4]http://sdinotice.hkex.com.hk/filing/di/NSForm1.aspx?fn=51700&sa2=ns&sid=50000414&corpn=iOne+Holdings+Ltd.&sd=14%2F07%2F2008&ed=01%2F06%2F2015&sa1=cl&scsd=16%2F02%2F2006&sced=16%2F02%2F2016&sc=0982&src=MAIN&lang=EN&.

The records show that Wai San Pong is also the sole or controlling shareholder of the companies registered in the tax havens of British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands.

The businessman’s name also appears in the Offshore Leaks database[5]https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/nodes/37916, which contains the leaked account details of wealthy individuals who use offshore tax havens to shelter their wealth.

The businessmen’s main company appears to be publicly listed company Winfull Group Holdings Limited[6]http://www.aastocks.com/en/stocks/analysis/company-fundamental/?symbol=00183, whose profits “soared 61.6 times” to HK$72.87 million in the first half of 2017, according to a company press release[7]http://www.aastocks.com/en/stocks/analysis/stock-aafn-content/00183/NOW.855595/hk-stock-news.

The real estate development and investment company appears to own and operate properties both in Hong Kong and in the United Kingdom.

The MLS listing for the Vancouver home seems to have been done in a hurry, with just one photograph and a description teeming with typos.

“Rare opportunity to own this huge 38,717 sf lot at Prestige Poin Grey, close to 8,000 sf well maintained home with 5 bds, 5 baths, indoor lab pool with whirlpool and tennis court at professional grade n halogen lighting for night playing,” it reads.

The BC NDP government’s budget tabled last month includes provisions to bring transparency to property ownership in the province.

“Currently in B.C., true ownership of real estate can be hidden,” the budget document Homes for BC[8]http://bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_Homes_For_BC.pdf reads. “This means numbered companies, offshore and domestic trusts, and stand-in owners obscure the source of funds in the real estate market. For example, lack of transparency in the land registry means it is not clear who owns nearly half of Vancouver’s most expensive properties. This is wrong.”

“The Province is taking action to close these loopholes and give us a clearer picture of real estate ownership in B.C,” the budget document, unveilved by Finance Minister Carole James, stated. “It will also help us to crack down on speculators, tax frauds and those engaged in money laundering.”

References   [ + ]

1. https://www.bcassessment.ca/Property/Info/QTAwMDAwMDBIUQ==
2. https://www.zolo.ca/vancouver-real-estate/4777-w-2nd-avenue
3. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/section-news.php?id=172547&sid=21
4. http://sdinotice.hkex.com.hk/filing/di/NSForm1.aspx?fn=51700&sa2=ns&sid=50000414&corpn=iOne+Holdings+Ltd.&sd=14%2F07%2F2008&ed=01%2F06%2F2015&sa1=cl&scsd=16%2F02%2F2006&sced=16%2F02%2F2016&sc=0982&src=MAIN&lang=EN&
5. https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/nodes/37916
6. http://www.aastocks.com/en/stocks/analysis/company-fundamental/?symbol=00183
7. http://www.aastocks.com/en/stocks/analysis/stock-aafn-content/00183/NOW.855595/hk-stock-news
8. http://bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_Homes_For_BC.pdf