B.C. money laundering report finds no federal officers dedicated to case
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, April 8, 2019 9:01PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 8, 2019 10:38PM EDT
VICTORIA -- British Columbia needs more resources to fight money laundering after a report concluded no Mounties have been dedicated to working illicit cash investigations in the province, Attorney General David Eby said Monday.
He said he's troubled that the report by former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German found the only dedicated money laundering resources for the force in B.C. are tied to the provincially funded Joint Illegal Gaming Investigation Team, which patrols activities at casinos.
"Despite two years of headlines about this issue there are apparently no federally funded, dedicated police officers working on money laundering in B.C.," said Eby at a news conference with German.
The information comes in the partial release of German's second report, commissioned last fall by Eby to review the use of real estate, horse racing and luxury vehicle sales to launder money.
German's initial report last June concluded the province's gaming industry was not prepared for the onslaught of illegal cash at the facilities and estimated more than $100 million was funnelled through them.
The latest review found 26 federally funded positions at the RCMP's E Division headquarters in Metro Vancouver under the umbrella of the integrated Federal and Serious Organized Crime Force, but not one of those was dedicated to money laundering investigations, he said.
Eby said he sent German's report to Bill Blair, the federal minister responsible for organized crime.
Blair, who has met with Eby at least three times this year about co-ordinating federal and provincial responses to money laundering, said he will continue to collaborate with officials in B.C.
"Our government takes the threat posed by money laundering and organized crime to Canada's national security and the integrity of our financial sector very seriously," Blair said in a statement Monday.
Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett, who oversees the RCMP's organized crime investigations in B.C., said in a statement Monday that the federal policing program has evolved from commodity-based investigation teams to specialized groups that conduct probes based on risk.
Criminals and criminal organizations do not limit themselves to a single commodity or type of crime, he said, adding that a firearms probe can lead to drug, gang or financial crime busts.
Hackett characterized German's report as a "snapshot in time" that doesn't capture the scope of work that officers are doing. The RCMP has eight priority money laundering projects underway in B.C. and also assists in international and national investigations, he said.
"We are continuously adapting to ensure that our human and financial resources are prioritize and aligned to address the greatest risks to public safety," the statement said.
The province's Opposition Liberal critic Mike Morris said the former government raised concerns about federal police staffing levels on money laundering teams at least twice when he was solicitor general, "but the RCMP was very slow in meeting their resourcing demands in B.C. and across Canada."
Morris said the B.C. government could decide to hire more RCMP officers rather than wait for the federal government.
Last year, an international anti-money laundering agency said organized criminals used an underground banking system in B.C. to funnel up to $1 billion annually from the proceeds of crime through casinos.
Finance Minister Carole James said she is preparing to publicly release an expert panel report by former B.C. deputy attorney general Maureen Maloney that looked to identify and close regulatory gaps in the real estate and financial sectors that could be exploited by organized crime groups.