The government of British Columbia today officially announced that it will conduct a public investigation of money laundering, which "distorted the economy of British Columbia, caused an overdose crisis and led to an increase in housing prices."
The decision to hold a commission of inquiry follows three independent surveys that reveal extraordinary levels of money laundering in the BC real estate market and in other sectors of the economy.
“Starting from day one, our government has been working to overcome the housing crisis and fraud, which has not stopped for more than ten years, causing harm to people and the economy of the BC,” said Prime Minister John Horgan. "We have taken decisive action to combat money laundering, but questions remain, and people in British Columbia deserve answers."
According to him, "this is why we decided to conduct a public investigation of money laundering in the province of British Columbia."
The judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Austin F. Cullen, was appointed head of the investigation, which will review the entire amount of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions, as well as corporate and professional sectors.
It will also examine regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement against money laundering. He will be able to coerce witnesses and issue disclosure orders.
The request “will provide answers about who knew what, when and who makes money from money laundering in our province,” said British Columbia Attorney General David Eby. “Honorable Judge Cullen will have the authority, authority and resources to search for answers, perhaps most importantly among people and organizations who refuse to share what they know, if this is not legally enforced.”
The Commission for the Investigation of Money Laundering in British Columbia will submit an interim report within 18 months and a final report by May 2021.
More than 7 billion dollars laundered in 2018
The Real Estate Money Laundering Panel estimates that more than $ 7 billion of dirty money was laundered in British Columbia in 2018, and that dirty money increased the cost of buying a home by about 5%.
However, this group can be significantly higher – more than 20% – in areas such as Metro Vancouver, where there is a lot of money laundering activity.
“People are understandably shocked and upset about money laundering, and it’s not right that homeowners and renters bear the cost of a crime,” said Treasury Secretary Carol James. “We have already taken steps to make our real estate market more equitable and transparent with our 30-point housing plan. Moving forward with this public inquiry reinforces our commitment to throwing dirty money out of our province and from people's lives. ”
Peter German's 2018 Dirty Money Report describes the history of money laundering and criminal activities in the casino of the Lower Mainland. His recently published follow-up report on money laundering in real estate, luxury cars and horse racing found that thousands of specific objects worth billions of dollars belong to individuals or legal entities with service addresses in high-risk countries for money laundering.
He also found that there was neither an agency nor a police force with sufficient supervision or resources to investigate these suspicious activities.
The province said it was acting on the basis of the findings of the “Dirty Money” report. Nine of the 48 recommendations from the “Dirty Money” report for 2018 were completed, plus two additional interim recommendations for December 2017.
It is expected that half of the recommendations will be completed by the summer.