B.C. holding public inquiry to track rise of money laundering

Judge to head probe into criminal activity in real estate, drugs

The B.C. government has appointed B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen to head an inquiry into the explosive growth of money laundering, estimated by investigators to have reached $7 billion in 2018.

“This inquiry will bring answers about who knew what when, and who is profiting from money laundering in our province,” Attorney General David Eby said Wednesday.

Cullen will have powers to compel testimony and issue search warrants to collect records, Eby said, after two investigations into real estate, luxury car reselling and other illegal activities encountered people who refused to cooperate.

The commission of inquiry has been asked to produce an interim report within 18 months and a final report by May 2021, but Premier John Horgan acknowledged that costs and even the duration of the independent inquiry are not yet known.

Horgan said the purpose of the inquiry is to get control of drug trafficking and criminal investment inflating the price of B.C. real estate by as much as five per cent, not to assign political blame. But the final report is scheduled to emerge less than six months before the next scheduled B.C. election.

“Perhaps other governments were intoxicated by the revenues that kept coming in,” Horgan said. “There’s certainly evidence of that.”

READ MORE: RCMP has ‘no’ money laundering investigators in B.C.

READ MORE: Hot cars hide dirty money, B.C. investigation shows

The province does not have authority to compel testimony from the RCMP or FINTRAC, the federal agency that monitors suspicious cash transactions, which Eby said has let B.C. down in monitoring activity in casinos and other areas of suspicious money movement.

Horgan said he has informed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Bill Blair, federal minister for border security and organized crime, that the inquiry is going ahead, and is expecting full cooperation from them.

The province does not have authority to compel testimony from the RCMP or FINTRAC, the federal agency that monitors suspicious cash transactions. Eby said FINTRAC has let B.C. down in monitoring activity in casinos and other areas of international money movement, and he was appalled to find that the RCMP had no dedicated investigators looking money laundering in B.C., other than referring cases for civil forfeiture actions.

Horgan and Eby have repeatedly argued against holding an inquiry before individuals are prosecuted for their actions. The RCMP’s one major prosecution against a Richmond financial firm with ties to China was abandoned in November 2018, and the province is pursuing a civil forfeiture case to seize assets from the company’s owners.

The civil forfeiture case alleges that the married couple laundered money for customers including drug traffickers importing cocaine.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Only in Canada, Eh?

Zamboni navigates the roundabout

Shamanic dog training comes to Clearwater

The Shamanic Dog Training Retreat helps owners teach with trust, understanding and freedom

El Nido Fly-in flies again

Forecasts were less than ideal for paragliding, but the weather held out for most of the event

Jim Pattison takeover offer ‘non-binding,’ Canfor cautions investors

B.C. billionaire already big shareholder in forest industry

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year

Most Read