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

Oak Bay doctor the pulse of Island’s heart failure clinic

Dr. Elizabeth Swiggum has headed heart clinic for past 14 years

PHOTOS: A summer morning in Oak Bay

A walkabout at Oak Bay Marina

UPDATE: Crown cross-examines Oak Bay dad accused of killing daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Annual study shows high satisfaction with B.C. post-secondary schools

Study also reveals men tend to dominate higher paying jobs in the trades

Pavement work to close Fort Rodd Hill

Historic site scheduled to be closed to public Sept. 3 to 6

Trudeau to meet with U.K. and Japanese prime ministers ahead of G7 summit

French President Emmanuel Macron, this year’s G7 host, has little expectations of a unified front from the leaders

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Orangeville Northmen take Minto Cup at Langley Events Centre

Swept best-of-five series 3-0 over Victoria Shamrocks

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Most Read