Local police don’t have the resources to investigate money laundering, so there should be more done at the provincial and federal levels — this is part of the feedback Richmond city staff has compiled to send to the province.
The province asked municipalities to give feedback on two initiatives it’s launching to fight money laundering, firstly, the creation of a publicly searchable central registry of beneficial ownership — showing who really owns properties and not just the “nominal” owner — and modernization of mortgage broker regulations.
Richmond city council will look at the feedback at Monday’s committee meeting.
The public beneficial ownership registry might help local Mounties find “more investigative leads” into money laundering.
But this would then require provincial and federal law enforcement to continue the investigation as “there is neither the capacity nor mandate to conduct these major investigations at the Municipal level alone,” the report notes.
In addition to the ownership registry, the city is asking for a searchable registry of corporations, trusts and partnerships registered in B.C.
The city also states it’s “vital” the province modernize the Mortgage Broker Act, because of the increase in private lending practises.
Furthermore, there should be more regulation of luxury car sales and leasing because this, too, was identified by former Mountie Peter German in a report last year as a target for money laundering.
Inquiry into money laundering
A public inquiry into money laundering got underway on Monday with participants including Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which owns and operate River Rock Casino.
The consequences of money laundering in B.C. are “serious and on-going,” said Attorney-General David Eby in a press conference to launch the inquiry.
These include the overdose crisis — the province reported on Monday about three people died every day last year from an overdose - and an unaffordable real estate market.
The focus will be to figure out how money laundering was allowed to happen — whether it was willful blindness, negligence or corruption — who is laundering money and how big the issue is.
The focus at the inquiry on Tuesday was partly on the grey market of illegal luxury car exports and how money is laundered through luxury car sales, including opening remarks from a BMW representative.
Aside from the illegal exporting aspect, the luxury car reselling sector is also prime territory for money launderers due to the lack of transaction oversight, according to German.
One of German’s key findings was that luxury car dealers are not required to file suspicious transactions of over $10,000 cash with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.
“There’s no visibility at the point of sale,” said German. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to launder money.
—With files from Graeme Wood/Glacier Syndicated