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British Columbia to hold public inquiry into money laundering

Christian Fernsby |
The Province will hold a public inquiry into money laundering that has distorted British Columbia’s economy, fuelled the overdose crisis and driven up housing prices.

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The decision to proceed with a commission of inquiry follows three independent reviews that found extraordinary levels of money laundering in B.C.’s real estate market and other sectors of the economy.

“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,” said Premier John Horgan.

“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.”

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin F. Cullen has been appointed to head the inquiry, which will look at the full scope of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions and the corporate and professional sectors.

He will also examine regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities.

He will have the ability to compel witnesses and order disclosure.

“This inquiry will bring answers about who knew what when and who is profiting from money laundering in our province,” said David Eby, Attorney General.

“The Honourable Justice Cullen will have the mandate, authority and resources to seek answers, perhaps most importantly among people and organizations who refuse to share what they know unless legally compelled to do so.”

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia will deliver an interim report within 18 months and a final report by May 2021.

The Expert Panel on Money Laundering in Real Estate estimates that more than $7 billion in dirty money was laundered in B.C.

in 2018 and that dirty money increased the cost of buying a home by about 5%.

This could be significantly higher upwards of 20% in areas like Metro Vancouver where there is more money laundering activity.

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