Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated Andrew Wilkinson was calling for a public inquiry into money laundering. He is actually calling for a judicial review. The story has been updated to reflect that clarification.
B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson is calling on the provincial government to launch a judicial review into money laundering at B.C. casinos and in the housing market.
The official opposition leader says a public inquiry would take too long and would be bogged down by legal wrangling.
“There’s little talk about a public inquiry,” Wilkinson told CKNW’s Jon McComb. “You and I think we deserve answers this week. Not four years from now after everybody’s lawyered up and talked about their charter rights. I am gravely concerned that we need some disclosure from this government as to what on earth is going on.
Global News reported last week on $1 billion worth of Vancouver-area property transactions that were contained in a 2016 confidential police intelligence study that has links to Chinese organized crime.
The study of more than 1,200 luxury real estate purchases in B.C.’s Lower Mainland in 2016 found that more than 10 per cent were tied to buyers with criminal records. Police intelligence believed 95 per cent those transactions were linked to Chinese crime networks.
That study was conducted while Wilkinson’s B.C. Liberals were in power. The Liberal leader says Eby must have known about the secret police study.
“Look, I was in government before as a senior civil servant,” he said. “We got total cooperation from the federal government on these things. Somehow that trust relationship has fallen apart. But where’s this stuff coming from? The choices are federal prosecutors — I doubt it. Federal Police, RCMP — maybe, but I doubt it. Or David Eby. So, we’re starting to wonder if David Eby is the source of these leaks.”
The B.C. government is currently overseeing two separate reports into alleged money laundering in the B.C. housing market.
Eby has requested Wilkinson waive cabinet confidentiality for documents related to suspected money laundering at B.C. casinos. In a letter sent to Wilkinson, Eby suggested the documents would help stop criminal activities at casinos.
“The information found in these documents would contribute to our efforts in finding ways to comprehensively end such criminal practices in B.C. casinos and throughout B.C.’s economy through avoiding failed measures already attempted by previous administrations,” the letter said.
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“I can commit, on behalf of the government, that information from these documents would remain confidential.”
B.C. Premier John Horgan has been asked multiple times whether he supports a public inquiry. He says at this point he is not ready to call a public inquiry, but he isn’t ruling it out.
“An inquiry, as you know, there’s been many over the years in B.C,” Horgan said on CKNW’s Jon McComb Show on Friday morning. “They tend to cost a lot of money and lead to a report that’s a few inches thick that sits on a shelf. That’s not what the public wants, that’s not what we want.”