Driving through sleepy Greendale on the western edge of Chilliwack one winds past poultry barns and hay fields, horses grazing and farm dogs running out to greet passersby.
There is one property in that rural area of the municipality, however, that has long proved to be a curiosity, a bit of a mystery, a “neighbourhood wonder” as one former neighbour put it.
The 11-acres consisting of two properties is surrounded by two layers of 15-foot-high cedar hedging in between which is chain link fence. Peeking out atop the high landscaped barrier are no fewer than 32 security cameras.
Inside is a 10,000-square-foot home with seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms, with a BC Assessment value of $2.5 million.
And after a Global News report Thursday, some of the mystery behind the property has been revealed, as the apparently French-style mansion was built by a Chinese gambling VIP allegedly connected to the RCMP’s probe of money laundering at Richmond’s River Rock Casino, itself tied to international drug trafficking.
According to Global’s sources, the house was built by 56-year-old Rongxiang “Tiger” Yuan, a man reportedly tied to the Chinese military who owns both a gun shop in the Lower Mainland and an extensive firearms collection.
There is a large building near the house on the Chadsey Road property that contains an underground garage, complete with mechanical lifts, inside of which witnesses report high-end luxury cars, such as Lamborghinis.
A former neighbour who visited the property when it was for sale told The Progress that Yuan first “wined and dined” locals, and many luxury cars were seen on the site. The neighbour said they saw the massive house while it was under construction along with the underground garage.
One thing Global got wrong was the size of the property, pegged at five acres. The hedging and security fence with cameras actually surrounds two properties totalling 11 acres. The main property is seven acres, on which there was a “perfectly good” 3,500-square-foot home next to a creek, a home torn down by Yuan to build the mansion.
The house was built in 2011, and before that Yuan purchased the adjacent four-acre property on which was the old Chadsey Elementary school that closed in 2002. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were reportedly spent on the security perimeter, and landscaping to convert the ball and soccer fields to an extensive Chinese garden.
Yuan reportedly made his millions as an aluminum exporter, and he apparently does not live at the Chadsey compound but entertains fellow Chinese businessmen from time to time.
Global reported that Yuan is one of the so-called “whale” gamblers that investigators have connected to alleged massive cash deliveries at Richmond’s River Rock Casino, according to allegations in 2015 Lottery Corp. investigation documents.
Both properties are in the Agricultural Land Reserve and at one time had productive hazelnut orchards.