Canada: B.C. to hold public inquiry into money laundering - PressFrom - Canada

CanadaB.C. to hold public inquiry into money laundering

23:01  15 may  2019
23:01  15 may  2019 Source:

Crackdown on money laundering does not include federal public inquiry: minister

Crackdown on money laundering does not include federal public inquiry: minister VICTORIA — The federal minister in charge of Canada's fight against money laundering supports British Columbia's public inquiry into dirty money but says a national examination is not necessary. Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair said Tuesday money laundering is occurring across Canada and internationally, but the federal government has already started implementing measures to combat illegal money. "From my perspective, we've already identified some very significant things that need to be done," he said. "It's been ongoing work. These types of measures, I think, will send a very clear message that Canada is cracking down.

B.C. to hold public inquiry into money laundering © Provided by Canadian Press Enterprises Inc

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government has launched a public inquiry into money laundering, a crime the premier says has distorted the provincial economy, infiltrated casinos, fuelled the overdose crisis and increased the price of real estate.

Premier John Horgan said Wednesday the impact of dirty money in the province was made clear by two reports released last week that the depth and magnitude of the problem was far worse than they had imagined.

"That criminal activity has had a material impact on people: whether it be the rise of opioid addictions, the rise of opioid deaths as a result of overdoses, whether it was the extraordinary increase in housing costs, people were being affected by criminal activity in British Columbia."

Can a public inquiry into B.C's dirty money problem help?

Can a public inquiry into B.C's dirty money problem help? Some people calling for a public inquiry point to the success of Quebec's Charbonneau Commission, which dealt with corruption in the construction industry. Others say two reports about money laundering with scores of recommendations is enough.

The government released two reports last week estimating $7.4 billion in illegal cash was laundered in the province in 2018.

One of the reports said $5 billion of that was siphoned into real estate, forcing the costs of homes up by at least five per cent, although it said that figure could be significantly higher — upwards of 20 per cent — in Metro Vancouver.

Horgan said a public inquiry will give an understanding of how the problem reached this point and how to eradicate the crime.

Attorney General David Eby said B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen has agreed to lead the inquiry and he'll have the power to compel testimony, seize records and obtain search warrants.

"Even with many red flags, the problem of money laundering is bigger than we thought and more entrenched than we hoped," Eby told a news conference.

B.C. must set clear terms, timeline if it holds money-laundering inquiry: expert

B.C. must set clear terms, timeline if it holds money-laundering inquiry: expert VANCOUVER — The British Columbia government needs to set clear goals and a firm timeline if it launches a public inquiry into money laundering, says a former provincial attorney general who led an exhaustive probe of missing and murdered women. 

He said money laundering is a "crisis" in the province's economy.

The reports also shed more light on the possibility that money laundering is a larger problem in other provinces.

It said B.C. ranked fourth for the crime among a division of six regions in Canada, behind Alberta, Ontario and the Prairies — collectively Saskatchewan and Manitoba — for the years 2011 to 2015. It also said B.C. only accounted for 15 per cent of the $47 billion laundered across Canada last year.

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.

Cullen's inquiry is expected to deliver an interim report within 18 months and a final report is due by May 2021.

Dirk Meissner , The Canadian Press

Money laundering report a wake-up call for Canada, but some provinces skeptical.
VANCOUVER — The authors of a report that found $47 billion was laundered across Canada last year debated whether to include a graph that indicated Alberta, Ontario and the Prairies were hotspots for dirty money, says the lead writer. 

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