B.C. Attorney General David Eby is asking for Ottawa’s help when it comes to cracking down on what he calls the “serious issue in casinos” of money laundering. Eby appeared before the federal finance committee in the nation’s capital on Thursday to discuss what can be learned from money laundering British Columbia.
“I am worried the message isn’t really getting across the Rockies to the federal government and they have so many tools to assist in the fight against money laundering,” Eby said. “Casinos or real estate or otherwise they have federal RCMP, Revenue Canada and FINTRAC. I’m just hopeful and I think the message was received, that all parties can support more intervention in Metro Vancouver.”
Eby has asked former RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter German to provide a report, due at the end of this month, into the problem of money laundering in the province. One of the issues German has already raised is the use of cash in the purchase of luxury vehicles.
“That is a very serious loophole. Vancouver is known as the capital in North America of supercars. And I think one of the issues that has been identified is what is happening at the casinos in terms of laundering is linked to the purchase of luxury cars,” Eby said.
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The B.C. Attorney General raised the issue with the committee in Ottawa during his hour-long appearance. One of the issues is that currently, there is no tracking by government of cash purchases for luxury items. B.C. is proposing the federal government starts by targeting the problem based on geography. But to avoid buyers just going to other markets, another option is to require reporting for any cash purchase higher than $10,000.
The 1,000-member Automotive Retailers Association is in support of government tracking cash purchases of luxury and supercars while emphasizing reputable dealers already report such transactions over $10,000. But there is a mounting frustration from the industry that they are unfairly being singled out by the B.C. government.
“The automotive industry seems to be the government’s and other’s favourite whipping post these past months – first by suggesting collision shops are overcharging which was proven not to be the case, and now suggesting that car dealers are involved in laundering illicit cash through transactions for luxury cars. Reputable car dealers do not do these things,” said President Ken McCormack.
“There are a lot of places where money can be laundered. Casinos and real estate have been singled out, and now luxury cars. Frankly, the list of potential sources for such transaction activity is endless. Luxury cars shouldn’t be singled out.”
Peter German’s investigation is looking at not just federal enforcement into laundering, but the impact money is having on casinos, the real estate market, the luxury car market and beyond. The government has committed to making the report public once it has been submitted and reviewed.
The B.C. government has acknowledged that if the crackdown is effective, it could actually hurt B.C.’s bottom line when it comes to gaming revenues and potentially property transfer taxes.