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

Company granted leave to appeal Lemon Creek charges

Executive Flight Centre won a decision in the BC Court of Appeal

Extensive smoke, heat damage to Castlegar home after fire on Friday

One occupant suffered burns after fleeing house with pet

Cyclist struck in Castlegar

Morning mishap at gas station on Columbia

Kaslo bus fueled by vegetable oil to begin service next month

Mountain Man Mike’s will run routes to Vancouver and eventually Edmonton

Police investigating felling of old cedars at Cottonwood Lake

One of the cedars was 300 to 450 years old

Rescuers finally persuade Eiffel Tower climber to come down

The official said the man was ‘under control and out of danger’ on Monday night

Oil companies, 24-cent gap between B.C., Alberta to be focus of gas price probe

Premier John Horgan called the spike in gas prices ‘alarming’

Motorcycle deaths spike 50% since 2017

Riders were most likely fatally crash on the weekends compared with the rest of the week

Mother of accused charged in death of Surrey teen girl found in torched SUV

Manjit Kaur Deo charged with ‘accessory after the fact’ in 2017 death of Surrey teen

Family of B.C. pilot killed in Honduras trying to ‘piece together’ tragedy

Patrick Forseth has a number of friends in the area and was loved by everyone

Justin Trudeau credits immigration for Canada’s growing tech sector

Trudeau stressed that Canada has become a major source of talent for tech all over the world

Feds launch tourism strategy designed to boost sector 25 per cent by 2025

The fund is supposed to back experiences that show off Canada’s strengths

Should B.C. already be implementing province-wide fire bans?

A petition is calling for B.C. Wildfire Service to issue a ban to reduce risk of human caused wildfires

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several days, but grew substantially Sunday

Most Read