The federal government is committing another $10 million to the RCMP in a bid to crack down on money laundering and criminal financing and to bring cases to trial.
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the funding in Vancouver, Thursday, after a meeting with provincial and territorial counterparts to discuss national strategies to address the issue of dirty money.
Morneau said the money is on top of $160 million committed in the 2019 budget to address money laundering.
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“So that we can coordinate to get the information and have the systems to get that ability to actually prosecute, it’s really critically important,” Morneau said.
Actually convicting criminals laundering money through Canadian casinos, real estate and other sectors has proved to be a challenge. Last fall, one of police and prosecutors’ marquee money laundering cases, dubbed E-Pirate, collapsed because federal prosecutors mistakenly exposed the identity of a police informant.
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B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said the province appreciated the new resources, but said her province would not take its foot off the gas pedal in trying to bring the issue under control.
“I think it will be no surprise that we will continue to push for more, we feel that the critical piece here that needs to be addressed is enforcement,” she said.
“If the money goes to the RCMP, we want to see it dedicated to the issue of money laundering, white collar crime, making sure we’re addressing those critical issues we see not only in British Columbia but across the country.”
B.C. Attorney General David Eby echoed that call for dedicated officers working the money laundering file.
“We’ve got many, many unlicensed money services business unregistered with FINTRAC that could be closed tomorrow if there were police out there that had the resources to do that work,” he said.
“Information sharing is critically important, but as we know with the FINTRAC reports here in British Columbia, those reports were collected, but who was looking at them?”
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair said Thursday’s meeting did not address specifically how resources would be allocated, but said it focused on the need to work collaboratively on how to identify legislative and regulatory weaknesses to money laundering.
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Morneau said the meeting also addressed strategies to improve the transparency of beneficial ownership of corporations and real estate to prevent criminals from using them to hide dirty cash.
“We talked about people who are moving money through corporations and the need for us not only to know who owns corporations, but to think about how we can make that transparent,” he said.
James touted B.C.’s own legislation creating a provincial registry of beneficial ownership of property.
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However she said coordination with the federal government remains a key priority, as criminals “don’t know boundaries,” and will move elsewhere in Canada if one province tightens rules in isolation.
B.C. launched a public inquiry into money laundering in May after three independent reviews revealed that billions of dollars are laundered each year through the B.C.’s casinos, real estate market and other sectors.
-With files from the Canadian Press