BC Government Calls Public Inquiry into Money Laundering that has National Implications

18 May, 2019, 04:38 | Author: Regina Silva
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Premier John Horgan says money laundering has had numerous impacts on people in the province including a rise in opioid deaths and higher housing costs. "That's why we established the public inquiry today".

Justice Austen Cullen will head the inquiry and will have two years to complete it.

"We should just stop pretending that we're ever going to have public inquiries, if we don't have one into something that is as important and as consequential to the future of our province as this", West said.

"We sat down as a cabinet and said, 'how can we ensure that the people of B.C. see consequences for the actions of criminals and criminal activity in B.C.,' " he said.

The New Democrats, including Horgan, James and Eby, have often said revenue from B.C.'s booming real estate market contributed to consecutive balanced budgets for the former Liberal government.

The impact of money laundering in B.C. was highlighted in two independent government-commissioned reports released last week that connected the practice to real estate and concluded more than $7 billion in dirty money was laundered in the province past year, said Horgan.

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The methodologies and data used are far from accurate, however, as the report noted.

According to the report on national risk assessment on money laundering and terrorist financing in 2012-17 period, the conclusion was made after analysing trends and money laundering scams as well as money and assets created by crime and risks involving many different industries deployed in money laundering. By this measure, B.C. ranked fourth for money laundering among six regions in Canada.

A report released last week from professor Maureen Maloney estimated that up to $47-billion worth of dirty money - the proceeds of criminal activity - was washed through the Canadian economy a year ago.

The Maloney report was released alongside former RCMP assistant superintendent Peter German's report, Dirty Money - Part 2, which goes into detail on some money laundering methods that appear to be employed in B.C. real estate, gaming and luxury goods. According to the terms of reference, Cullen is tasked with finding out how money laundering thrived in the following sectors: gaming and horse racing, real estate, financial institutions including those that are now unregulated, corporate entities like shell companies and trusts, luxury goods, as well as professional services like legal and accounting.

Neither report looked into financial institutions or the securities sectors.

Cullen may forward information to authorities for potential prosecution. He was assistant deputy attorney general for the Criminal Justice Branch from 1999 to 2001 and was appointed to the BC Supreme Court in March 2001.

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