June 14, 2024
It’s a Canadian thing
Canada’s housing markets are rife with shadowy buyers and greasy cash. B.C. was just the beginning.
Canada’s housing markets are rife with shadowy buyers and greasy cash. B.C. was just the beginning.

On paper, Peter Zhang and his wife, Judy Wang, were models for the type of newcomers Canada wanted to attract with its immigrant investor program. Before it was scrapped in 2014, the program’s aim was simple: lure the world’s wealthy to Canada’s shores with the promise of a passport. In return they would bring their business savvy, invest in the economy and create jobs.

Zhang and Wang were undeniably rich. They arrived from China at the end of 2010 with at least $6 million, settling in the suburbs north of Toronto. But almost immediately after, a twisting tale was set in motion that would eventually see Wang accuse a realtor, a lawyer and others of fraud and negligence, and prompt an Ontario judge to raise questions about both the source of Zhang and Wang’s wealth and a string of real estate and mortgage transactions tied to the case.

At the start of 2011, the couple bought their first home, a six-bed, five-bath pile in Richmond Hill, Ont., for $1.25 million—and paid for it entirely in cash. By February, however, Zhang and Wang had separated, claiming in court that they divorced in 2013, though Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell, in a November 2017 decision on a procedural matter in the lawsuit, described the divorce decree as “suspicious.” (In an email through her lawyer, Wang now says they divorced in June 2018.) Regardless, the pair continued to buy and develop three more Richmond Hill and nearby Thornhill properties together, largely in cash, through their joint company Yi Hao Investments. Wang bought a fourth property on her own in Vaughan with a 100 per cent loan-to-value mortgage from RBC in 2017. All told, she and Zhang bought five properties, worth $9.3 million at the time of purchase.

[…]

Loading