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How money laundering could be happening in Alberta

Last Updated May 11, 2019 at 9:09 pm PDT

Glasses rest on a copy of Peter German's investigation report into money laundering in the B.C. real estate industry during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, May 9, 2019. A report that estimates $5 billion was laundered through British Columbia's real estate market last year also lifts the lid on the extent of illegal cash moving across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — A new report indicates we may be able to blame criminals for skyrocketing real estate costs.

A study in British Columbia revealed the scale of money laundering in that province and its connection to housing and other property developments.

READ MORE: Why criminals look to Canada to launder their money through real estateĀ 

However, according to the report, Alberta actually has the highest rate of laundering with over $10 billion dollars funnelled through in this way in 2015, and there’s speculation it’s going into real estate.

“It’s only till now that we’re starting to see the magnitude of this medium for laundering cash,” said Mount Royal University Criminologist Kelly Sundberg. “Some of this money is going to be going into, you know, concrete, the materials. You have the trades you have all sorts of players involved in the development of large projects.”

He says it’s a very intelligent way to launder money as you use it to build properties, and it grows like an investment, then you sell it and you receive clean cash, but it also underscores a need for modernizing law enforcement practices.

“Goes to show that the professional policing and regulatory bodies are going to have to become more sophisticated,” he said.

Meantime, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer said they obviously take any criminal activity very seriously.

“The figure presented for Alberta appears to be the product of economic modelling that may not be completely reliable. We use intelligence from front-line law enforcement agencies, not data we can’t verify,” he said. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect law-abiding Albertans.”