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Attorney General 'interested' in seizing homes bought with laundered money

Last Updated Jun 25, 2018 at 4:51 pm PST

Summary

Money laundering report due out Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Criminologist says it's already fairly easy to seize property considered the 'proceeds of crime'

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Evidence of shady transactions at B-C casinos could lead to suspected money launderers losing more than cash.

Attorney General David Eby admits he’s interested in using proceeds of crime legislation to seize houses, luxury cars and other big ticket items.

He says a 250-page report by former RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter German has uncovered extensive evidence of money laundering.

“Well, there are currently two active law enforcement investigations related to this material and so, it’s really important for people to understand why we had to be careful in releasing the report. We have tools in BC that we can and will use.”

Eby has confirmed the seizure of property is an option when it comes to holding out-of-country criminals accountable.

“Well, the nice thing about real estate, it’s really hard to get it out of the country (laughs), so, if necessary, civil forfeiture is a tool that’s available if people are breaking the law and investing it in real estate.”

SFU criminologist Rob Gordon says it’s already fairly easy to seize property considered the ‘proceeds of crime.’

“That legislation is triggered when it’s difficult to undergo or undertake criminal prosecution. You want to nail somebody, but you don’t have enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict them. I’ve no doubt in my mind, if for no other reason than to maintain legitimacy, government is going to pursue these individuals quite aggressively.”

It’s not clear if any casino workers or those accused of turning a blind eye to money laundering will face prosecution, but Eby admits he needs support from Ottawa to pursue suspected money launderers who may have already fled Canada.

“It involves other countries and other jurisdictions which is federal responsibility and this is connected to really problematic things like fentanyl. We need the federal government to be at the table to support us in this.”

Gordon, who’s extensively studied civil forfeiture legislation, agrees it’s much easier to seize property from out-of-country money launderers rather than trying to prosecute them.

“Especially if they scurry to jurisdictions where there’s no possibility of pursuing them. Extradition is hard at the best of times. People may well be abandoning properties here, just to get out.”

German’s report, to be released in Vancouver at 9:30am Wednesday, contains 45 recommendations.