British Columbia

City of Vancouver joins calls for public inquiry into money laundering

City council voted unanimously Wednesday to pass a motion tabled by OneCity Coun. Christine Boyle. It calls for an investigation into how money laundering relates to issues including organized crime, the overdose crisis and sky-high real estate prices.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart will write a letter to Victoria to apply pressure for a probe

A casino employee surveys bundles of $20 bills in a photograph released by the B.C. attorney general's office as an illustration of money laundering. (B.C. attorney general)

The City of Vancouver is the latest B.C. municipality to apply pressure on the provincial government to launch a public inquiry into money laundering.

City council voted unanimously Wednesday to pass a motion tabled by OneCity Coun. Christine Boyle.

It calls for an investigation into money laundering and how it relates to widespread issues in B.C., including organized crime, the overdose crisis and sky-high real estate prices.

"Money laundering is a provincewide problem but it's having very real impacts here in Vancouver." said Boyle. 

Mayor Kennedy Stewart will write a letter to Victoria calling for an inquiry as soon as March, when the provincial government's second report on money laundering by former Mountie Peter German is due.

Boyle would like to see the provincial government set the wheels in motion for a public inquiry so that as soon as German's second report is finished, they can begin the inquiry, instead of elongating the process.

Boyle says city council is also looking at ways to deal with the problem on a municipal level, but adds that, realistically, it needs to be tackled by both the provincial and federal governments.

"The breadth and depth of this money laundering ... is really much larger than the scope and jurisdiction of the city and, so, we need senior levels of government to complete it," she said.

 "Then the city can help out in every way that they ask and we're capable of."

City council voted unanimously to add the city's support for a probe into money laundering. (City of Vancouver)

Attorney General David Eby said in January that as much as $2 billion of dirty money travelled through B.C.'s legal and illegal casinos and real estate market in one year.

The claim dwarfed German's estimate from his initial report released in June 2018, Dirty Money, that more than $100 million had been cleaned in B.C. amid a "collective system failure."

Eby told the CBC in January that a public inquiry into how money laundering got so big in B.C. is not out of the question.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby says the government is open to the idea of a public inquiry. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

He also said the problem has a wider reach than simply Canada's westernmost province.

"This is a very serious issue and I believe an issue of national concern," said Eby. 

"These are staggering numbers. Incredibly troubling."

He added that he intends to work with the federal government to tackle money laundering.

Richmond city council voted Monday on a number of recommendations to tackle money laundering, organized crime and illegal gambling in the city.

The city of Victoria is set to vote on a similar motion Thursday.

With files from Eric Rankin and Liam Britten

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