B.C. moves closer to money laundering public inquiry; feds vow ‘crack down’

An anti-money laundering group said that $1 billion annually was being filtered through B.C. casinos

Money laundering in British Columbia has become a top issue for the federal and provincial governments with federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau vowing a “crack down” Friday, while the province considers a public inquiry.

“The importance of dealing with money laundering concerns is something that is clearly on our agenda,” said Morneau at a news conference in Victoria. “We need to be very clear, we crack down on any issues around money laundering.”

Last year, an international anti-money laundering organization said in a report that up to $1 billion annually was being filtered through some B.C. casinos by organized crime groups.

The B.C. government also cited an RCMP intelligence report that estimated up to $1 billion from the proceeds of crime was used to purchase expensive Metro Vancouver homes. An RCMP official said Friday the Mounties are searching their data bases to find the report the government has cited.

Former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German’s review last year of money laundering at some B.C. gaming outlets found casinos served as laundromats that siphoned the money to organized crime groups.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby said Morneau’s comments add support to recent commitments by the federal government to fight money laundering.

READ MORE: B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Eby and Minister of Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair met last month to work together and share information to combat money laundering.

“I’ve seen a real shift in the interest from the federal government on this issue,” Eby said.

Two B.C. government money laundering reviews are underway and are due in March. One probe will look to identify and close regulatory gaps that could be used by money launderers in the real estate and financial services sectors.

The second review will focus on identifying the scale and scope of illicit activity in the real estate market and whether money laundering is linked to horse racing and the sale of luxury vehicles.

Eby said the findings of those reviews, collaborations with the federal government on legal issues and public concern about money laundering will help the government decide if a public inquiry on money laundering is warranted.

“The premier hasn’t ruled out a public inquiry,” said Eby. “He is actively monitoring the situation and I’m doing my best to keep him and cabinet informed on this quick-moving file.”

Morneau said the federal government’s focus on money laundering spreads beyond Canada’s borders where there are global concerns with dirty money funding terrorist organizations.

“We worry more broadly with issues like terrorist financing, which is what the global community is looking at when they think about money laundering,” he said.

But Eby said many in the global community are looking at B.C. as a jurisdiction where money laundering by organized crime has flourished.

“To some extent international concern is focusing on what’s happening in B.C.,” he said. “We really need the feds on board here.”

He said it’s difficult to fully determine the extent of money laundering in B.C., other than to conclude the numbers are increasing.

“It’s really important that whether it’s $100 million, or a billion dollars, or $2 billion, whatever it ends up being, that the issue and the need to address it remains the same and … it is only growing in urgency,” Eby said.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Robert Barron column: Let’s see more roundabouts in the Cowichan Valley

I commend the city planners for their wisdom in installing a roundabout there.

City of Duncan looks to public for ideas for Whistler Street, downtown park

Workshops to be held concerning 85 Station St. and Whistler Street

Andrea Rondeau column: There are good people in Cowichan, along with the bad

The generosity of the people and businesses in the Cowichan Valley never ceases to warm my heart.

Sarah Simpson Column: Haunted by the never-ending to-do list

“I just need to…” I find myself saying that a lot to… Continue reading

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

Most Read