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Alberta questioning B.C.’s money-laundering report

By JUSTINE HUNTER & MIKE HAGER for The Globe and Mail

The Alberta government is casting doubt on the findings of a new report commissioned for the B.C. government that warns money laundering is widespread across the country.

The report released last week from British Columbia’s expert panel on money laundering in real estate concluded that almost $47-billion worth of dirty money – the proceeds of criminal activity – was washed through the Canadian economy last year. Of that, more than $7-billion is believed to have flowed through B.C.’s economy, distorting the housing market and feeding the opioid crisis.

The report estimates that Alberta had the greatest amount of dirty money washing through its economy – $10-billion.

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But Doug Schweitzer, Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor-General, said the conclusions are based on questionable data.

“The figure presented for Alberta appears to be the product of economic modelling that may not be completely reliable. We use intelligence from front-line law-enforcement agencies, not data we can’t verify,” he said in a statement.

B.C.’s expert panel adopted the “gravity model” used in the Netherlands to estimate how much dirty money Canada is laundered within the country and how much moves between Canada and other countries. The panel describes its estimates as cautious and noted the model used by the International Monetary Fund – known as the “wet finger estimate” – provides a range of estimates between $43-billion and $147-billion a year in Canada.

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