B.C. NDP government orders public inquiry into money laundering

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      A public inquiry will be made into money laundering in British Columbia.

      B.C. NDP Premier John Horgan announced the inquiry Wednesday (May 15) following the recent release of two government-commissioned reports into money laundering.

      B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin F. Cullen will head the inquiry.

      The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia will deliver an interim report within 18 months.

      A final report is expected from the commission by May 2021, about six months before the provincial election in October of that year.

      A government news release states that “money laundering that has distorted British Columbia's economy, fuelled the overdose crisis and driven up housing prices”.

      "From day one, our government has been working to tackle the housing crisis and fraud that went unchecked for over a decade, hurting people and B.C.'s economy," John Horgan stated in the release. "We have taken decisive actions to combat money laundering, but questions remain and people in B.C. deserve answers. That is why we have decided to proceed with a public inquiry into money laundering in the Province of British Columbia."

      The terms of reference for the commission of inquiry includes a look at the “extent, growth, evolution and methods of money laundering” in a number of areas.

      These are gaming and horse racing; real estate; financial institutions and money services; corporate practices like the use of shell companies, trusts, securities, and financial instruments for the purposes of money laundering; luxury goods; and professional services, including legal and accounting.

      On May 9, the government released the results of a study by an expert panel on money laundering in real estate.

      The panel’s report indicated that $7 billion was laundered in B.C. in 2018, increasing the cost of homes by about five percent.

      On May 7, the government released a second report by former senior RCMP officer Peter German, which found that car dealerships are being used to launder money.

      In June 2018, the government disclosed the findings of German into money laundering in casinos. According to German, at least $100 million were laundered in casinos over a decade, which means an average of more than $10 million per year.