As calls grow to hold a public inquiry into how money laundering proliferated in B.C., federal and provincial politicians tasked with dealing with the issue are hopeful new efforts unveiled in last week’s federal budget will help lead to a crackdown.

Attorney General David Eby and the federal Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair discussed money laundering efforts in Victoria Wednesday.

The pair said they are working well together and will continue to look for ways to co-operate. Eby said he welcomed actions pledged by Ottawa, while making the case that a big chunk of the money should come to B.C.

Our province has seen real estate prices skyrocket, unprecedented opioid deaths, and casinos here have also been linked to dirty money.

The Greens became the first political party to push for an inquiry in February. The premier has said he’s open to the idea, but only after cabinet reviews two reports due back March 30. Eby echoed that same sentiment today.

“The larger issue that I understand British Columbians are concerned about is really political accountability,” he told reporters after his meeting with Blair, “and frankly, to identify if there is rot in the system and have that rot weeded out.”

A previous study found bags full of cash were routinely washed in B.C. casinos to the tune of $100 million over 10 years. Later, another report stated that number could be as high as $1 billion a year.

The federal budget included new spending and new measures to tackle money laundering, including:

  • $24M over five years for teams to monitor money launder in real estate transactions and tax evasion
  • $68.9M over five years to the RCMP
  • $28.6M over four years including $10.5M to create “Money Laundering Centre of Expertise”
  • $16.9M over five years to help FINTRAC, the money laundering watchdog

“I believe by providing greater transparency for financial transactions and better quality of information sharing between the various regulators who have responsibility here, we can do a better job preventing this criminal activity,” said Blair.

Eby says Ottawa will also consider a request to provide information to B.C. – should the province decide to forge ahead with a public inquiry into dirty money.