The B.C. government has received a pair of reports that look into money laundering in B.C.’s housing market.
The second German Report, which looks into money laundering in real estate, horse tracks and luxury cars, is more than 300 pages long and was submitted to Attorney General David Eby.
“Our staff will be going through it in detail. The goal is to release it to the public as quickly as possible,” Eby said.
“When we receive reports like this we have to go through and make sure we are not inadvertently releasing information that could compromise a law enforcement investigation.”
The second report has been submitted by the Expert Panel on Money Laundering to B.C.’s minister of finance. It recommends rule changes that will shut loopholes in the real estate market and increase transparency on who owns property in B.C.
A Global News investigation uncovered a Vancouver police report that showed a study of more than 1,200 luxury real estate purchases in B.C.’s Lower Mainland in 2016 found more than 10 per cent were tied to buyers with criminal records. Police intelligence believed 95 per cent of those transactions were linked to Chinese crime networks.
While the study only looked at property purchases in 2016, an analysis by Global News suggests the same extended crime network may have laundered about $5 billion in Vancouver-area homes since 2012.
WATCH (aired June 27, 2018): Author talks about organized crime, drug sales in B.C.
The two reports were commissioned in September 2018 following widespread concern about British Columbia’s reputation as a haven for money laundering.
The B.C. government has been waiting to review the reports before determining whether there will be a public inquiry looking into money laundering. There has been growing support from the public for a inquiry.
WATCH (aired June 27, 2018): Author says recommendations will help solve problems
The first German report looked into widespread money laundering in Metro Vancouver casinos.
One of its recommendations was to establish a police unit solely to investigate the legal-gaming industry.
The report made 48 recommendations, 11 of which have been put in place by the government. The new policies and procedures have significantly reduced large cash transactions in B.C. casinos.
The government is still looking at options to create dedicated policing resources for gambling and anti-money laundering and a model for an independent regulator. It is also looking to clarify the roles of the regulator and the BC Lottery Corporation, and determine a tracking system to prevent “chip walking.”
“British Columbians feel the effects of money laundering in their daily lives, with apparent links to organized crime, the opioid crisis and the housing market, which is why we have focused our efforts on quickly shutting down this criminal activity,” Eby said.
“Peter German’s first report made it clear that while money laundering was a significant problem in our casinos, there was also troubling evidence that the criminal economy was growing elsewhere in British Columbia.”
The second German Report is set to look at the following issues:
- potential links between real estate activity and criminal enterprises
- the use of lawyers’ trust accounts to mask sources of funds in real estate transactions
- money laundering in the construction industry, including abuse of builders’ liens
- connections between organized crime and money laundering in the horse racing and luxury car industries
–with files from Sam Cooper