Call for money-laundering inquiry heads to Vancouver city council
There could soon be yet another voice calling for a public inquiry to look into money laundering and organized crime in B.C.: the City of Vancouver.
Coun. Christine Boyle will present a motion to council on Tuesday asking the city to formally join the call for an inquiry.
Boyle’s motion also calls for any such inquiry to include links to real estate and the overdose crisis in its terms of reference.
“It needs to have a broad mandate — I don’t want it to be narrowed to not include those,” Boyle said. “Money laundering is obviously a problem at a provincial level, but it is having very real impacts for us here in Vancouver.
“Vancouver lost more than a person per day to overdoses last year, and [a recent] RCMP report estimated that $1 billion [worth] of property transactions were tied to proceeds of crime.”
Watch below: Focus B.C. — Pressure builds for money laundering inquiry
Peter German, a former high-ranking RCMP officer, has already completed one probe into casino money laundering. He is now working on a second that is looking at links to real estate, the luxury car market and horse racing.
Boyle said she was encouraged by those efforts but that she doesn’t believe they are enough.
“I think the province is being thoughtful about this and considering all of their options,” she said. “I think they’ve taken some good steps [and] I’m really glad the German reports are happening, and they’re doing what they can.
“We’ve seen from public opinion polling and from increased pressure that this is a step the public wants us to take. As a municipality so impacted by these issues, I felt it mattered that we speak up to them.”
Watch below: Focus B.C. — Criminal responsibility of money laundering
Vancouver wouldn’t be alone in the call. A new poll from Ipsos Research commissioned by Global News found overwhelming support for an inquiry among every demographic in B.C., with 76 per cent of respondents backing the idea provincewide.
Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West has also been vocal in the call for an inquiry.
On Friday, he told Global’s Focus B.C. that an inquiry along the lines of Quebec’s Charbonneau Commission into organized crime and corruption was the only way to restore public confidence.
“I think, very quickly, they’re going to have no choice,” West said. “Because it’s very clear the public wants it, but more importantly, the facts demand it.
“The facts of what has gone on here demand this type of response because we are dealing with a systemic failure, a systemic corruption, I believe. And the only way we’re going to get to the bottom of that, the only way we are going to fix it, is through a Charbonneau-style inquiry.”
WATCH: Focus BC: Possibility of money laundering inquiry
In a one-on-one interview with Global B.C.’s Chris Gailus this week, Attorney General David Eby acknowledged there was “huge interest” in a public inquiry and said the government wasn’t ruling out the possibility.
However, provincial prosecutors are also still working on a money-laundering case that could see charges laid. Eby said he’s concerned an inquiry could compromise that investigation.
That’s a concern that a deputy chief prosecutor on the Charbonneau Commission told Focus B.C. is not necessarily founded.
“We worked together with the police that were doing, at the same time, their investigation, too,” Simon Tremblay said. “We worked end by end and made sure we respected the fundamental rights of the potential accused.
“They made all the arrests. The week after, we presented the proof. And I can tell you, they arrested 37 people — all of them were guilty.”
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