B.C. Liquor Stores could be targets for money laundering

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WATCH: There are concerns British Columbia liquor stores are targets for money laundering. John Hua explains how it works and what critics want to see done – Mar 23, 2016

Questions are being raised about large cash purchases at a BC Liquor Store.

According to corporate emails leaked to the NDP, on May 27 of last year the manager of a BC Liquor Store on Cambie St. and West 39th Avenue expressed concerns about a few cash transactions over $10,000, asking whether they should file a report to The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), which tracks attempts to launder money in Canada.

The manager received an answer 15 minutes later saying there was no legal obligation to do so.

“The BC Liberal government is not interested in tracking down money laundering when it comes to areas of significant provincial revenue,” NDP leader John Horgan said.

The NDP called this the latest in a string a possible money laundering activities, pointing to allegations of millions of dollars being laundered through casinos as well as evidence that suggests dozens of Metro Vancouver real estate firms are failing to adhere to anti-money laundering laws.

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“The B.C. government, in essence, is then complicit in this money laundering unless they take some steps, meaningful steps, to reduce this criminal activity,” Horgan said.

The order not to report the alcohol sales to the anti-money laundering agency came from the Liquor Distribution Branch’s investigation section.

Instead, the store manager was told to report those kinds of purchases directly to the Liquor Distribution Branch.

The minister responsible passed off questions from Global News to BC Liquor Store management, who provided this statement:

“At BC Liquor Stores, these purchases and returns are subject to a number of internal checks and balances to help identify potentially suspicious or criminal activity.”

There was no mention of involving FINTRAC.

The NDP has filed a freedom of information request looking for answers.

– With files from John Hua and The Canadian Press