A public inquiry into money laundering launches on Monday with participants including Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which owns and operates River Rock Casino.
The consequences of money laundering in B.C. are “serious and on-going,” said Attorney-General David Eby in a press conference to launch the inquiry. These include the overdose crisis – the province reported on Monday about three people died every day last year from an overdose - and an unaffordable real estate market.
“Despite working hard, despite following the rules, (families are) competing directly with off-shore trusts, numbered companies, straw buyers, tax evaders and criminals for a place to live,” Eby said. “They’re competing and they know they’re not winning and they’re angry.”
The City of Richmond has compiled feedback on anti-money laundering legislation and regulations - this will be dealt with at next Monday's general purposes committee meeting. The feedback is written by the general manager of community safety, Cecilia Achiam about the public beneficial ownership registry and the modernization of the Mortgage Broker Act.
Three areas of focus of the public inquiry into money laundering, Eby explained, will be to figure out how money laundering was allowed to happen – whether it was willful blindness, negligence or corruption – who is laundering money and how big the issue is and what its impact is on communities.
He pointed out the commission will have full independence.
“The commission’s full allegiance must be to the people of British Columbia and to no other interest, priority or agenda,” Eby said.
His two major concerns as the commission launches this week are, first, the inquiry will be hampered from getting information because of an anticipation of future prosecutions, and, secondly, the former attorney-general, will not release Liberal cabinet documents related to money laundering.
Cabinet documents, according to convention, are confidential, but Eby is asking the former Attorney-General, Mike de Jong, to release these documents as they pertain to discussions about money laundering. He said, if they’re not released, the only recourse is to ask the courts to demand they’re released.
Peter German released his report entitled “Dirty Money” about money laundering two years ago, after which there were several calls for a public inquiry, including from Richmond city council.
Eby said the provincial government was reluctant to launch the inquiry, concerned it would interfere with on-going investigations. However, he pointed out that these arrests and prosecutions aren’t happening.
“Should the commission uncover potential criminal wrong-doing, the government has respectfully requested the commission work in a way that minimizes any risk to any prosecution,” Eby said.
River Rock Casino was referenced several times in German's report.
* Stay tuned to the Richmond News this week for news about the money laundering inquiry