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Dirty money to blame for people 'shooting each other in the streets': David Eby

Last Updated Mar 27, 2019 at 9:43 pm PDT

(Source: iStock)

B.C.'s Attorney General says money laundering has gone unchecked for too long

David Eby blames people dying in gang shootings on laundering dirty money through B.C. casinos

Bill Blair, federal minister for organized crime reduction, says a new task force will increase financial transparency

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — More lives will be lost if we don’t put an end to money laundering — some strong words from B.C.’s Attorney General as he welcomes support from Ottawa to crack down on money laundering.

RELATED: City of Vancouver pushing for public inquiry into money laundering, organized crime in B.C.

David Eby says this type of crime has gone unchecked for too long, especially in B.C. where casinos have been used to clean dirty money for gangsters.

“It is what people are shooting each other in the streets about when it comes to gang violence. It is what makes our community less safe. It has greater economic impacts in terms of Canada’s international reputation,” he says.

He says it’s reached a level that’s unacceptable.

“Whether you’re talking about $100 million or a billion dollars or even more than that, the public is incredibly concerned about it, and as they should be because this money comes from the proceeds of crime,” he says.

RELATED: B.C. minister fears money laundering involves billions of dollars, cites reports

During a joint news conference in Victoria, Bill Blair, the federal minister responsible for organized crime reduction, promised more financial transparency thanks to the creation of a multi-agency task force.

“Canada has to do its part and participate in that trans-national effort to address this very pervasive organized crime activity,” he says.

He adds that changes are coming to better monitor financial exchanges.

“We’re going to make it, frankly, harder for this crime to be committed, far more likely that the individuals will be caught and a greater certainty that they’ll be held to account for their criminal behaviour,” he says.

Recent reports have suggested more than a billion dollars is laundered every year in B.C.-based casinos.

The federal budget includes $140-million over five years to fight money laundering nation-wide, but Eby and others have suggested that’s not enough.

B.C. Liberals ignored warnings: Eby

As for ongoing calls to hold a public inquiry, Eby’s says he’s not ruling that out. He says numerous warnings were ignored by the former B.C. Liberal government.

“They made a number of very significant and problematic decisions in relation to money laundering. The failure to say stop accepting this cash at our casinos is one that I find really difficult to understand,” he says. “I still haven’t heard an explanation from anyone in the previous government about why they did this.”

Those problems include concerns raised by gambling regulators about betting limits at B.C. casinos being raised from $5,000 to $100,000 per hand, he says.

“Against the advice of the regulator, the provincial government increased the amount per player that they could gamble in one sitting,” he says. “That decision on the amount per hand was just one example of a series of bad decisions, frankly.”

Eby adds he wants to see a new report on money laundering in B.C. real estate, luxury car sales and horse racing before he decides if a public inquiry is necessary.

– With files from Denise Wong