Judges: CIBC bank supports clients who break China’s cash-export laws, to buy Vancouver homes

Canadian banks are not obliged to follow China’s rules, and nor are they obliged to report clients whom they know to have broken them – so long as they are not breaking any Canadian rules in the process.

How far, then, will a financial institution go to satisfy the flood of Chinese millionaires looking to find new Canadian homes for their family and their funds?

For CIBC, the answer is: Far enough to get its clients’ money out of China, regardless of Beijing’s US$50,000 annual export limit – but within the bank’s own ethical limits (and Canadian law, of course).

Court rulings in a wrongful dismissal case involving the bank and Guiyun Han Ogden, a former Vancouver financial advisor, make both points clear.

With more than 50,000 rich immigrants having arrived in Vancouver in the past decade, these newcomers have become a lucrative business. From 2004 to 2011, satisfying them was Ogden’s job at CIBC, and she was apparently very good at it, overseeing a C$233 million portfolio of clients made up primarily of wealthy Chinese immigrants.

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