BC Government to hold public inquiry into money laundering

Darnell Taylor
May 18, 2019

Eby said Commissioner Cullen is to have the full powers under the Public Inquiry Act. He will also have the right to order warrants and order individuals to co-operate with the inquiry or otherwise find them in contempt. Justice Cullen's final report is due in May, 2021, just months ahead of the next scheduled provincial election.

The cost of the inquiry is not yet known.

After learning of the reports' conclusions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the information was "extremely alarming", adding that money laundering is hurting people by disrupting the housing market. Eby said it is important the RCMP be able to contribute to the inquiry.

Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair said money laundering is a complex issue and all levels of government and law enforcement must work together as he promised co-operation from the federal government. The NDP government has repeatedly pointed fingers at the Liberals for allowing the money laundering problem to flourish under their watch.

The premier couldn't provide a number when asked for a pricetag for the inquiry.

With the power of legal authority, they will be obliged to answer public inquiry questions.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, who wrote Mr. Eby a year ago calling for an inquiry, said he wants Justice Cullen to go beyond partisan politics to identify the systemic weaknesses in this "world-class region".

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There is no indication from government that the inquiry will look at municipal staff and politicians, who have played a significant role in advocating for expanded gambling facilities. Some experts consider the two intertwined, and have dubbed methods of money laundering in B.C.as the "Vancouver Model", for the way illicit drug proceeds flow from global and domestic criminal groups and through B.C. casinos and real estate.

Premier John Horgan says British Columbian's deserve answers when it comes to money laundering and how it has affected the economy.

One of those reports that money laundering was responsible for raising house prices across the province by 5% and 20% in Vancouver alone.

The provincial government released two exhaustive reports on money laundering last week, with the most significant results from the expert panel led by former B.C. deputy attorney general Maureen Maloney indicating that past year alone, an estimated $7.4 billion illicitly entered the province.

James said she believes the estimates are conservative.

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.

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