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B.C. money laundering inquiry might not lead to arrests: lawyer

Last Updated May 15, 2019 at 7:36 pm PDT

FILE: 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

A financial crimes lawyer says B.C.'s money laundering inquiry is a fact-finding mission, not about arrests

Police have the option to launch separate investigations and make arrests based on what comes out of the inquiry

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — If you’re hoping B.C.’s public inquiry on money laundering will land people behind bars, you might be disappointed.

A recent report found at least $7.4 billion was laundered in B.C. last year, including $5 billion in real estate, but a financial crimes lawyer says arrests aren’t necessarily going to come out of the inquiry.

RELATED: ‘Let’s get down to some facts’: Former Solicitor General welcomes money laundering inquiry

Christine Duhaime says the inquiry is mainly a fact-finding mission, although prosecutions could go ahead.

“If something comes to their attention where they think it warrants police investigation, they will, of course, refer it on,” she says. “That’s a separate matter for the police to then look into and see what needs to come of that particular item that was referred to them.”

RELATED: B.C. to go ahead with public inquiry into money laundering

Duhaime adds she’s expecting the inquiry to be televised, so everyone has a chance to watch testimony in real time.

“If the testimony’s live and the hearings are live, I think we’ll be hearing a lot of really interesting things and I think that might be eye-opening, and there’s huge public interest in it and there has been a lot of public pressure,” she says.

She also hopes this inquiry leads to the federal government dedicating more police resources to this province.

“I’d like to see there be some solutions that are B.C.-specific, that cater to our needs and that the answers aren’t always driven from Ottawa,” she says. “That don’t necessarily speak at all to what the problems that we faced out in British Columbia.”

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen, who’s heading up the inquiry, is expected to determine how dirty money has driven up real estate prices and fuelled the overdose crisis.

He will also have the power to issue search warrants, seize records and force witnesses to testify.