Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to reflect the fact that Tuesday’s motion called for greater oversight of municipal tax payments made with cash. Coun. Boyle plans to introduce a motion calling for the city to add its voice to calls for a public inquiry at the next council meeting.
Vancouver City Council debated a motion Tuesday to call for greater oversight of municipal tax payments made with cash.
Coun. Melissa De Genova first tabled the motion for city council to follow the provincial crackdown on money laundering by monitoring cash transactions.
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Currently, the city accepts cash for empty home and property taxes as well as licences and fees.
De Genova’s motion calls for the city to work with the provincial government, city police, and the RCMP to prevent money laundering that could be linked directly or indirectly to businesses operating in Vancouver.
The motion also calls on staff to review the city’s powers, within the Vancouver Charter, to create more stringent financial reporting requirements for businesses, individuals and corporations when paying city taxes, licences and fees.
Globalnews.ca coverage on money laundering
At the moment, De Genova says there is no limit to the amount individuals and businesses can pay by cash nor is there any mechanism to determine whether those payments come from legitimate sources.
According to the City, less than one per cent of the revenue collected is paid in cash, equating to $13 million. The City also says it is exploring the option of reducing or eliminating cash payments.
The motion follows a report commissioned by the attorney general examining the extent of money laundering in B.C. casinos. The report, authored by Peter German, estimated $100 million had been laundered in British Columbia, a figure that may be grossly underestimated, according to several Global News investigations.
The next phase of German’s work will examine the link between money laundering and B.C. real estate.
Coun. Christine Boyle says she would like to see the City of Vancouver add its voice to growing calls for a provincial inquiry into the links between organized crime, illicit drugs and the housing crisis.
Boyle says she plans to make a motion at the next council meeting supporting the call.
“There’s been a lot of centralized issues around money laundering in Vancouver,” Boyle said. “The term, ‘The Vancouver Model’ is used, and so it’s clear that this is a local city issue, as well as a provincial issue. I hope we can get to the bottom of it and how it’s impacting Vancouver, through a provincial inquiry.”