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HomeBusinessExclusive: Who are the people in the neighbourhood? Lonely West Van mansions, where a forest stood

Exclusive: Who are the people in the neighbourhood? Lonely West Van mansions, where a forest stood

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Bob Mackin

Whitby Estates in West Vancouver may be the most-expensive new neighbourhood in Canada with the most-awesome panoramic views. 

It may also be the most lonely. 

Weeds on the walkway of a vacant mansion at the centre of a dispute between a Chinese government official and his daughter. (Mackin)

During visits to the area over the last two years, theBreaker noticed a dearth of daytime pedestrian and vehicle movements and very few residences with lights on during evenings in this British Pacific Properties development.

The views of Point Grey, Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver Island and Washington’s San Juan Islands at sunset are stunning. It is a popular destination among astronomy aficionados and Celebration of Light fireworks fans. 

There are knee-high weeds growing in many gardens and walkways during the summer. After winter snowstorms, the streets are dutifully plowed long before the knee-high snowbanks on many driveways. 

When cars are spotted, they are often parked in clusters while their drivers are inside, perhaps enjoying the solitude. Like the black Mercedes and white BMW SUVs and gold Mercedes AMG GT R Coupe seen June 6. 

An analysis of property assessment records for 60 mansions and townhouses on the once-forested slopes of Highview Place and Highgrove Place shows a whopping $350.416 million combined real estate value — an average of $5.84 million — in the luxury enclaves below Cypress Bowl Road.

The area, developed between 2009 and 2014, was marketed to investors from China. Two-thirds of the names on titles in the B.C. Assessment database are non-anglicized Chinese names. Some of those names are familiar to court watchers in B.C.

For instance, the neighbouring mansions at 2783 and 2785 Highview Pl. are worth a combined $16.443 million. They are held by members of the Li family from Meizhou in Guangdong province. Except, a family feud is winding its way toward a B.C. Supreme Court trial. 

Li Xiaoqi is suing her father Li Jianhua, because she claims to be the beneficial owner of both houses. Communist Party member Li Jianhua is the former chairman of wood products manufacturer Guangdong WeiHua Corp. and a former deputy in the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislature. 

The 2783 Highview house is worth slightly more, at $8.238 million, with five bedrooms and seven bathrooms on 20,780 square feet of land. Compared to 2785 Highview, which is worth $8.205 million, and contains six bedrooms and six bathrooms on 18,665 square feet. 

Next to the pair of Li mansions at 2791 Highview Pl. is the $8.24 million property registered to PE Consulting Ltd., which has an address on West Boulevard in Kerrisdale. PE’s sole director is Jizhe (Mary) Yang. 

In January, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck ordered Yang’s other house, near Prince of Wales secondary, to be sold. Affleck ruled that it had been fraudulently transferred in 2008 by Yang and her husband, Samuel Zhu, to Yang’s teenage daughter, Yang’s sister and her sister’s husband. On March 26, Justice Gregory Bowden ordered the shares of PE Consulting Ltd. be sold. 

Yang’s Highview house also offers an example of how values ballooned. Back in 2011, when it was an empty lot, it was worth just $1.686 million. By 2015, the land was worth $3.189 million and buildings $3.554 million. 

The values of the 60 homes analyzed in Whitby Estates range from $3.151 million to $9.28 million, meaning all are subject to the NDP’s so-called schools surtax for the value over the $3 million mark. Some will also be subject to the NDP’s speculation tax. Finance Minister Carole James and Attorney General David Eby have also vowed to start a beneficial ownership registry to find out who really owns what. 

A real estate agent’s sign is swallowed by bushes in Whitby Estates. (Mackin)

Transparency International says governments need to know beneficial owners, in order to curtail money laundering and tax avoidance. Canadian land title offices only record the titleholder, who can be a shell company, a trust or a nominee, TI says. Beneficial owners of Canadian property can, therefore, remain anonymous.

Continuing along on the tour…

Next door to the Yang house, at the $7.667 million 2795 Highview Pl., the registered owner is Guan Yueqin of the Nanshan district of Shenzhen, Guangdong. 

Across the street is 2788 Highview Pl., registered to Su Ya Qing. It is assessed at $6.401 million, but it can be all yours for $7.98 million. 

Hurry, don’t miss this limited time offer.

Just pulling your leg! Luxmore Realty agent Wendy Tian’s for sale sign by has been standing for so long, that it is in danger of being swallowed by bushes. No word on whether the silver Lexus SUV and white BMW sedan in the car port — both without licence plates — are included. 

Tian is also flogging a strata townhouse at 2533 Highgrove Mews for $4.28 million, slightly above the $4.004 million assessment. 

Down the winding road at 2751 Highview Pl. is the $8.51 million mansion that was formerly in the name of Jia Gui Gao. When Gao defaulted on the mortgage, he was served legal documents at the Venetian Hotel in Macau. One of those holding a mortgage on the property was none other than Paul King Jin, the cash facilitator banned from B.C. casinos. Jin sued Gao for $2.3 million because he alleged Gao spent the money on gambling and women. 

The court agreed to sell the property in June 2017 to a Richmond-based, mobile phone retail chain executive. 

Who really owns the $3.977 million strata townhouse at 2748 Highview Pl.?

Lunar New Year decorations displayed in June at Whitby Estates (Mackin)

It is registered to TR Highview Holdings Ltd., which is tied to the Tortola, British Virgin Islands address of ILS Fiduciary (B.V.I.) Ltd. The multinational firm specializes in “tax mitigation, asset protection, property ownership and assisting cross-border business.”

Marian Nibbs, the assistant manager at ILS B.V.I., told theBreaker by email “we are unable to divulge information to third parties; however, I have forwarded your request to our client for them to respond to you.” 

The B.C. corporate registry said TR Highview Holdings Ltd. is the assumed name of the B.V.I. incorporated TR Management Ltd., and its lawyer is Sterling Hein of Bell Alliance. 

Neither Hein nor anyone from TR Highview or TR Management has responded to theBreaker.

Song Zhi Quan and Song Yu Xin are the names on the deed for $7.347 million 2701 Highgrove Pl., but their registration includes the address of the Mao and Yang LLP accounting firm (formerly SunRonkai) in the MacMillan Bloedel Building in downtown Vancouver. Neither of that firm’s principals responded to theBreaker.

Likewise for TV production sales company HRTV Productions and real estate investment company Home Run Developments, which are at the address on the deed for Yan Ming Liu’s $8.225 million property at 2737 Highgrove Pl. 

The entry for Li Jin Fong’s $6.973 million property at 2709 Highgrove refers to 155 Winding Way in Ottawa, a house that was listed for sale at $1.65 million in the posh Barrhaven East neighbourhood. 

Similarly, the entry for Zhong Cheng Na and Chen Tang’s 2717 Highgrove Pl., worth $6.418 million, includes a Kingsway address in Burnaby. 

Behind the 2727 Highgrove Pl. mansion, assessed at $6.922 million, is another surprise. 

The seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom house is registered to Quan Hua and Qui Chan, who are connected to the $25.889 million mansion at 3639 Osler St. via the numbered company 0880902 B.C. Ltd. 

The Osler mansion was the 39th most-expensive in the city last year.

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