The Estate Planning world can sometimes surprise us with cases like this:

The former owner of a $31-million waterfront mansion in Vancouver’s Point Grey neighborhood is shedding light on why his buyer is listed as a “student” – and slamming B.C.’s new foreign buyers tax.

Investor and Order of BC Recipient Peter Brown called back after CTV News visited the residence to say the student’s Chinese parents are the ones who paid him for the property, and that such arrangements are common “estate planning” techniques.

“I sold the house to a Chinese couple who are going to live here. Sum total story period,” he said, adding that the buyers had bought some of his furniture as well. “You think people buy a $31-million house just to leave it empty?”

“They bought it and put it in his name, to suit themselves. That’s their business. It’s not mine, it’s not yours, it’s their business. But I can tell you they’re going to live there,” said Brown, a high-profile Canadian businessman who was vice-chair of Expo ’86 and a member of the board for the 2010 Olympic Games.

He founded investment dealer Canaccord Financial before retiring in 2014. He is also chair of the board of the Fraser Institute.

Brown said he didn’t know specifically why the parents structured the ownership of the asset that way, but said he had seen many such legal arrangements that don’t trigger some types of taxes that are due when assets transfer.

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