No dedicated federal anti-money laundering police officers working in B.C.: report

The first look at Peter German’s review of money laundering in the province’s housing market has found there are currently no dedicated federal RCMP officers in B.C. investigating criminal money laundering.

As part of his review, German, a former senior RCMP officer, was asked to look into why so few money laundering cases have been investigated or prosecuted in B.C.

“We have accelerated the release of this portion of the report so that the federal government and the public are aware of what is happening to police the international crime groups laundering money through our provincial economy,” Attorney General David Eby said. “What is happening is nothing.”

As part of the chapter released on Monday, German is advising the B.C. government that the RCMP team assigned to deal with anti-money laundering is more than three-quarters unstaffed.

German found the only RCMP resources dedicated to anti-money laundering investigations within B.C. are provincially funded or operate under the provincial policing agreement.

“Every single dollar in the federal budget for anti-money laundering needs to come to B.C. yesterday,” Eby said.

“Police experts need to be recruited from across Canada for a specialized team that can start now. There’s not enough time to start from scratch. The money launderers here are already experts, they’re already rich and now we know they’re better resourced.”

The report, which is more than 300 pages long, will be released in full once the government is done redacting sections related to ongoing investigations.

The province has received a separate report submitted by the Expert Panel on Money Laundering to B.C.’s minister of finance.

The two reports were commissioned in September following widespread concerns about B.C.’s reputation as a haven for money laundering.

The B.C. government has been waiting to review the reports before determining whether there will be a public inquiry into money laundering.

A Global News investigation last year uncovered a Vancouver police report that showed a study of more than 1,200 luxury real estate purchases in B.C.’s Lower Mainland in 2016 found more than 10 per cent were tied to buyers with criminal records. Police intelligence believed 95 per cent of those transactions were linked to Chinese crime networks.

While the study only looked at property purchases in 2016, an analysis by Global News suggests the same extended crime network may have laundered about $5 billion in Vancouver-area homes since 2012.

The first German Report looked into widespread money laundering in Metro Vancouver casinos. One of its recommendations was to establish a police unit solely to investigate the legal-gaming industry.

The report made 48 recommendations, 11 of which have been put in place by the government so far. The new policies and procedures have significantly reduced large cash transactions in B.C. casinos.

The government is still looking at options to create dedicated policing resources for gambling and anti-money laundering and a model for an independent regulator. It is also looking to clarify the roles of the regulator and the BC Lottery Corporation, and determine a tracking system to prevent “chip walking.”

— With files from Sam Cooper

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