Province to probe money laundering in real estate, luxury car industries
British Columbia's government announced it is launching a review Thursday into the real estate, luxury car and horse racing industries as part of its ongoing effort to curb money laundering in the province.
"We aim to find out if and how organized crime may be using our housing market, our race tracks, our luxury car market to launder the proceeds of crime," Attorney General David Eby told reporters.
The announcement comes seven months after an alarming report by former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German which warned that "large-scale, transnational money laundering has been occurring in our casinos."
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The first phase on the NDP government's crackdown targeted dirty money in the province's gaming industry.
Now, the attorney general is asking German to conduct the next phase of the investigation and produce a fact-finding report on money laundering in B.C.'s lucrative housing market.
"We can't ignore the red flags that came out of the casino review or the connection between individuals bringing bulk cash to casinos and our real estate market," Eby said, adding that "the bulk cash we saw in casinos is a fraction of the cash generating through this activity that may be circulating in British Columbia's economy."
According to Eby, German's probe will focus on money laundering in the real estate sector connected to criminal enterprise, the potential use of lawyer trust accounts for illegal transactions and dirty money in the construction industry.
The Ministry of Finance will simultaneously work to identify vulnerabilities in the real estate market that leave it open to money laundering activity and other abuse.
Finance Minister Carole James said Thursday she has appointed an expert panel to look into the issue and produce a final report with the same due date as German's review.
"When the real estate market is open to illicit activity and unethical behaviour, people, our communities and our economy suffer," James said. "This is something that we have to tackle."
Both the ministry's and German's reports are due in March 2019.