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B.C. government announces probe of money laundering

By Graeme Wood for Business in Vancouver

B.C. Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday his government will launch a public inquiry into money laundering activities across the province.

Speaking in Victoria, Horgan cited the province’s sharp rise in real estate prices and opioid deaths as primary reasons for a public inquiry.

“We have an obligation to British Columbians to get to the bottom of this,” Horgan said. “The proceeds of crime are distorting the lives of British Columbians.”

Attorney General David Eby announced Justice Austin Cullen has agreed to lead what will be known as the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, which is expected to produce a report in May 2021.

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Eby said Commissioner Cullen is to have the full powers under the Public Inquiry Act. For example, Cullen will be given the power to inspect any public space and seize records, as required. He will also have the right to order warrants and order individuals to co-operate with the inquiry or otherwise find them in contempt. He will also have the ability, with government support, to modify the terms of reference set out by the Horgan government and extend the two-year reporting period.

Examining regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities will also be a key component of Cullen’s duties, noted the government.

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