BC government says owners of illegal cannabis grow-op used third party to hide property’s true ownership

| Staff

According to a notice of civil claim filed in BC Supreme Court on January. 5, the BC government says a Richmond grow-op that was raided by police in 2020 was transferred to a third party ‘nominee’ to hide the property’s true ownership.

The BC government says the owners of a Richmond property that was raided in 2020 for housing an illegal cannabis grow facility have used a third party ‘nominee’ to hide the property’s true ownership to avoid government forfeiture. 

The province is seeking to seize the property as the proceeds of crime.

“The property is proceeds and an instrument of unlawful activity,” says the BC Civil Forfeiture Office’s claim in a notice of civil claim filed in BC Supreme Court on January 5, 2021. “The property has been used by the defendants to engage in unlawful activities which variously resulted in, or were likely to result in, the acquisition of property or an interest in property, or caused, or were likely to cause serious bodily harm.”

The property is located at 11880 Machrina Way near No. 5 Road. in a warehouse district in South Richmond, near the Fraser river. 

Chartell Properties Ltd., the company’s director Jefferson Wu, and numbered company 1152529 B.C. Ltd. and its director Yanqiu Huang, are all named in the suit.

Richmond RCMP first opened an investigation into the facility as an unlicensed grow operation in April 2020, resulting in a raid later that summer. The facility was operating under a personal medical production licence from Health Canada for 195 plants, held by a man named Han Chao Xiao who passed away on April 27. 

RCMP say that in addition to the cannabis grow operation that had more 6,605 plants, they seized more than 22.5 kg of dried cannabis.

The government argues that the numbered company, 1152529 B.C. Ltd., first bought the building in April 2018, financed by a mortgage held by Chartell Properties.Then, on August 21, following the raid by the RCMP the numbered company sold the property to Chartell Properties.

The BC government argues that the numbered company is the true owner of the property, with Chartell Properties acting as a nominee owner, a kind of front to shield the property from forfeiture. They want the court to issue an order that the property transfer is void and of no effect.

“The transfer was not a bona fide transaction for value and is not a valid or enforceable charge against the title of the property,” the government’s suit argues. “The transfer of the property was not done in good faith for good consideration.”

The government also wants the property and its proceeds and interest to be forfeited as the proceeds of crime.

Chartell Properties and/or the numbered company can still file their response to the suit, which have not been proven in court.