Richmond council calls for money laundering inquiry

Richmond city council is pressuring senior governments to push for an investigation into money laundering, organized crime and illegal gambling. It is also calling on the B.C. attorney-general to conduct a full public inquiry with the right to subpoena witnesses.

The call for the public inquiry came from Coun. Harold Steves, who said Richmond is the “heart” of the money laundering problem.

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“It’s not the Vancouver model, it’s the Vancouver model in Richmond that we’re fighting,” Steves said. “We’ve been fighting that for 10 years and I think it’s time people realized that and backed us up.”

The list of recommendations from staff to tackle these issues, which council adopted last night, includes:

- pressuring senior levels of government to fund local enforcement,

- developing an organized-crime policing plan,

- encouraging the province to make legislative reforms so ownership of corporations and land be transparent,

- inviting both Great Canadian Casinos and the B.C. Lottery Corporation to meet with council members.

The council motion also included amending the city’s bylaw to require money exchange operators to undergo criminal record checks.

A staff report to council pointed out that the problem of organized crime, money laundering and illegal drugs is too big for one local police force, but despite resources from provincial, national and international police, “Metro Vancouver continues to be identified as an international hub for money laundering, drug trafficking and illegal gambling.”

The report notes there were 36 gang unit patrols in 2018 that resulted in 454 business checks at bars, restaurants, massage parlours, the night market, pool halls, internet gaming places and the casino resulting in drug investigations and arrests. Seventy-nine criminal code charges were laid. 

The city receives annual revenue from River Rock Casino  operations as well as property taxes.

According to the city’s 2017 annual report, Richmond received about $16.7 million in gaming revenue.

 

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