Sam Cooper is probably Canada’s hottest, most in-demand journalist now. His ongoing reporting about Chinese criminals has many people on edge about how much Metro Vancouver is being swamped by dirty money laundered from across the Pacific.
One of his most recent stories for Global News, jointly written with Stewart Bell and Andrew Russell, is based on a “secret police study” about how criminals (mostly Chinese) supposedly laundered an estimated $1 billion through Vancouver’s luxury homes in 2016. Like his other stories, the November 26 piece on the Global News website has already earned rave reviews from members of the public and the media on Twitter.
The story’s most significant contribution is that it completely undermines Peter German’s Dirty Money report that was released by Attorney General David Eby just five months ago.
German briefly became British Columbia’s biggest celebrity when he constructed the “Vancouver Model” to purportedly show Chinese criminal gangs laundering “mind-blowing” and “massive” amounts of drug money through Metro Vancouver’s casinos. But the report contained shortcomings that were exposed by the "Open Letter" list of 21 questions posted on this website on July 5.
Cooper confirms my doubt that the “mind-blowing”—Eby’s description—amount of casino-laundered cash was an exaggeration: “B.C. Lottery casinos are an important conduit in the underground transactions. But the money laundered through gambling is miniscule compared to the sums flowing through real estate.”
In the same spirit and format of the first "open letter" of questions, I have the following questions for Eby and German about the “secret police study”:
1. Did Mr. Eby know about the work on the study before its recent release to Mr. Cooper? Assuming Mr. Eby did not, why not?
2. Did Mr. German know about its existence? If not, why not?
3. Which branch of the police produced the study? Assuming police had kept the study a secret from the AG’s office, will Mr. Eby investigate why he had not been informed?
4. When did the AG know about its existence? Did he know about its existence before Mr. Cooper did?
5. Now that the study’s existence is public knowledge, would Mr. Eby release its findings to public scrutiny, just as he did with Dirty Money? Would he hold a press conference to answer questions pertaining to the study?
6. If Mr. Eby declines to release the study to the rest of the media, can he explain why?
7. How did the study conclude that $1 billion was laundered through Vancouver’s housing market in 2016? Will the police or the AG’s office explain how they arrived at this sum?
8. May I request for an interview with the author(s)?
9. Assuming Mr. Eby had knowledge of the study while it was in progress, why didn’t he mention it at his June 27 press conference announcing Dirty Money’s release? What was Mr. Eby’s reason(s) for withholding the fact that he knew of the study’s existence?
10. Mr. Eby had said he would commission Mr. German to undertake the second phase of his investigation to show the link between Chinese drug money laundering and Vancouver’s real estate market. If a secret police operation had already concluded a supposedly detailed study of the problem, why does Mr. Eby see the need to hire Mr. German for the second report?
11. Why did Mr. Eby repeatedly promote Dirty Money’s findings as proof of “massive” money-laundering operations through B.C.’s casinos when he knew it was false? Why promote Dirty Money when he knew that the secret study contained supposedly far more substantive information about alleged Chinese drug money laundering operations in Metro Vancouver?
12. The study alleged that a small portion of 1,200 luxury home sales were linked to Chinese crime networks. Outlaw motorcycle gangs and other homegrown criminals have been operating in Metro Vancouver for much longer. Do the AG's office and the police have any studies to show the extent of real estate ownership by local non-Chinese criminal gangs? Why the focus on Chinese criminals?
13. Did Mr. Eby personally authorize the exclusive release of the study to Mr. Cooper?
14. If the answer to question 13 is "yes", why did it only go to Mr. Cooper and not to the entire media corps, given the seriousness of this alleged threat to the Canadian public?
15. What deal, if any, did the AG’s office or police make with Mr. Cooper so that he had exclusive access to the study’s findings over other media?
16. Assuming Mr. Eby was unaware that police would release or had released the study to Mr. Cooper, how concerned is Mr. Eby that a secret study had been leaked to the media without his knowledge and authorization?
17. Mr. Cooper made the comment that “the money laundered through gambling is miniscule compared to the sums flowing through real estate." Do Mr. Eby and Mr. German agree? If the answer is "yes", does it contradict everything that both officials had said about Dirty Money when it was released?
18. Will Mr. Eby retract his endorsement of Dirty Money now that we know the amount of money laundered through the casinos is “miniscule”?
19. Does Mr. Cooper’s assessment point to Mr. Eby attempting to distance himself from Mr. German and Dirty Money?
20. If Mr. Eby agrees with Mr. Cooper’s assessment, why did the AG’s office pay Mr. German a rather hefty fee of $188,914 to produce Dirty Money? Could Mr. Eby have saved taxpayers’ money by using his own “secret police” team instead?
21. How much will the AG’s office pay Mr. German for part 2 of his study?
22. Given how Mr. Eby and Mr. German have alarmed the public with Dirty Money’s findings, should the public trust this secret police study and the findings as reported by Global News? So far, we have only Mr. Cooper’s sensational reporting of the study rather than the study itself. Without access to the full report, the rest of us cannot judge if its findings and warnings are valid.
23. Since the study contains so much “evidence” of the alleged scale of Chinese money laundering in 2016, can we expect the police to arrest and charge someone soon?
24. For over a year, Mr. Cooper’s reporting has cited Paul King Jin as an alleged major player in the Chinese drug and money-laundering operations in Metro Vancouver. The constant references to Mr. Jin suggest that he could be the target for prosecution. So why hasn’t Crown counsel, which is part of the attorney general's ministry, made a move on Mr. Jin yet in connection with money laundering? If it has, why hasn’t it been made public?
25. Given the alleged alarming scale of Chinese criminal activities in Metro Vancouver, why would B.C.’s own homegrown gangs tolerate the invasion of these foreign gangs into their turf? Why hasn’t there been widespread gang clashes between these Chinese criminals and our own gangs?
26. Regarding the opioid crisis. I revive Question number 12 from my last "Open Letter" in the Georgia Straight: “On June 27, the CBC published its investigations into how more than half-million prescription drugs, mostly opioids, are stolen from pharmacies each year. On June 28, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had arrested and charged more than 600 people, including 71 doctors, for their role in the country’s opioid crisis. Mr. German’s Dirty Money report makes no mention of the role of pharmacies or medical personnel in Vancouver’s opioid crisis. Yet, Mr. Eby keeps insisting that Vancouver’s opioid crisis is a made-in-China problem tied to casino money laundering. While China’s factories manufacture the base compounds, there is clearly a deep and sophisticated supply chain operating inside Canada that is trafficking these drugs to domestic consumers. Will Mr. Eby follow up on the CBC story, and the example set by the U.S. Department of Justice, to order a full investigation into how pharmacies and medical professionals are involved in the opioid crisis?”
27. As a result of Mr. Cooper’s recent story, one of his readers has made a call on the Global News news site to kill Vancouver’s Chinese. Please see the screen shot below.
Would Mr. Eby regard this as a hate crime? Would Mr. Eby order police to investigate this reader, which could conceivably lead to his arrest and him being charged with a hate crime and for incitement to commit ethnic cleansing?
28. If the answer is "yes", when will Mr. Eby do it? If the answer is "no", please explain.
I look forward to your answers.