Pulling the Plug on Money Laundering in British Columbia, Canada Lessons Learned and Actions Required
British Columbia is a province within the federal parliamentary democracy of Canada. Although Canada covers a vast area - making it the second largest country by area in the world - its population is just under thirty-eight million people, made up of ten provinces and three territories. The population of the province of British Columbia is just over five million.
Canada has prided itself on being a jurisdiction that money launderers avoided. In 2000, The Government of Canada enacted the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA). Delays in bringing in this legislation were largely the result of the focus in the mid 1990’s of the Canadian federal government on its fiscal problems. Because of this, Canada was the last of the G-7 countries to enact anti-money laundering legislation. This legislation resulted in the creation of FINTRAC (Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada) - Canada’s FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit). Certainly, Canada has never been immune to money laundering, but something different began to surface in Canada’s western-most province, British Columbia (BC), beginning around 2015 with dirty money surfacing in casinos.
In fact, the money laundering situation is viewed by the British Columbia (BC) Provincial Government as being in such disarray that in May 2019 the BC Government called for a public inquiry into money laundering in the province. BC Supreme Court Justice Austin F. Cullen was appointed to head the Inquiry, which will examine the full scope of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions and the corporate and professional sectors. Commissioner Cullen is also examining regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities. Commissioner Cullen has the ability to compel witnesses and order the production of documents and records.
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