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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Midway mill shutdown expected to last 8 to 10 weeks

Vaagen Fibre Canada cites low inventory, road restrictions as reason for shut down

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

Timberwolves seek fresh lacrosse recruits

New season of the ‘fastest game on two feet’ begins this spring

Missing the Bus: Transit planners trying to fix overcrowding

Part two in a series looking at transit issues in the west Kootenay.

UPDATED: Nakusp to use New Denver playbook to attract doctors to town

Clarification on doctor’s shortage from local clinic manager

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

B.C. man released from quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Because Spencer Fehrenbacher has American citizenship, he was evacuated by the U.S.

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Most Read