Money laundering in Vancouver appears to be ‘cottage industry,’ inquiry hears

Cullen Commission into money laundering in B.C. resumes online
The Cullen Commission into money laundering in B.C. has resumed online, with an expert telling the hearings why B.C. is perfectly positioned for money launderers. John Hua reports.

The public inquiry into money laundering in B.C. entered its second phase on Monday, with the first expert laying out the scope of the problem in the province and why B.C. has become such a hot spot.

Stephen Schneider, a professor of criminology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, told commissioner Austin Cullen that he had to rely partially on reports from Vancouver news outlets because of a lack of proper, peer-reviewed studies on the topic.

READ MORE: B.C. mayor hopes money laundering inquiry becomes must-see TV

In Vancouver, Schneider said, there seems to be businesses whose sole purpose is to launder money, and that it has become a “cottage industry” in which people become specialists or consultants to help organized crime groups.

“We can’t just think in these stereotypical drug dealers with bags full of cash,” he said. “We also have to think of more sophisticated corporate entities that are engaged in unethical and criminal activity.”

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The inquiry was called last May by Premier John Horgan after intense pressure to hold authorities and criminals accountable for the level of crime happening in the province’s casinos, housing market and luxury car industry.

“One of your most crucial goals in money laundering is to create the guise legitimacy and what better way to do that than in the legitimate economy,” Schneider said.

As for why B.C. has become such a hub, he pointed to its home-grown drug industry and ties to California and China.

READ MORE: WATCH LIVE: Second round of B.C. money laundering inquiry resumes


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The commission has pushed forward with video conferencing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The current round of hearings will run from May 25 to June 26.