VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – John Horgan has announced the province will be going ahead with a full inquiry to get to the bottom of the billions laundered in B.C.
The decision comes after a report last week revealed $7.4-billion of dirty money flowed through the province last year.
“When we received last week the review from the expert panel and the final iteration of Mr. German’s second report, it became abundantly clear to us that the depth and the magnitude of money laundering in British Columbia was far worse than we imagined when we were first sworn in,” Horgan said.
Justice Austen Cullen will head the inquiry and will have two years to complete it. The commission of inquiry into money laundering will have 18 months to deliver an interim report. A final report is expected by May 2021.
Inquiries typically make recommendations but can lead to criminal charges.
“Criminal activity has had a material impact on people, whether it be the rise of opioid addictions, the rise of opioid deaths as a result of overdoses, whether it was the extraordinary increase in housing costs people were being affected by criminal activity in British Columbia,” Horgan added.
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Some of the powers that will be available to Cullen that were not available for Peter German when writing his report include the right to inspect any public place and seize records, the right to apply to court to obtain a warrant, the right to order a person to attend a hearing and testify, and the power to find someone in contempt if they fail to comply, explained Attorney General David Eby.
“The commencement of this inquiry process is a vital and long overdue step towards justice in British Columbia,” Eby added. “There is nobody in British Columbia that is not potentially compellable, the commissioner could certainly call individuals believed to be actively involved in money laundering.”
Last week’s report found a total of $47-billion has been laundered across Canada.
“It’s unacceptable to have a housing market that’s distorted and inflated by the proceeds of crime while ordinary British Columbians are struggling to find secure, affordable housing,” adds Finance Minister Carole James. “Our real estate market should provide housing for people, not profits for criminals and that’s why we are moving ahead with a public inquiry into money laundering.”