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Feds say they will cooperate with B.C.'s money laundering inquiry

Last Updated May 16, 2019 at 10:05 pm PDT

Bill Blair, federal minister of border security and organized crime reduction, attends a press conference in Toronto on Friday, August 3, 2018. Canada's minister of border security and organized crime reduction says Ottawa will consider a resolution passed by police chiefs urging the federal government to beef up its fight against the scourge of opioids by more closely vetting people who import pill presses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — The federal minister responsible for organized crime reduction is promising full cooperation with B.C.’s newly-announced public inquiry on money laundering.

Bill Blair says anyone asked to testify must take the stand, and that includes police or workers at FINTRAC, the agency responsible for tracking dirty money.

“The only caveats is that cooperation cannot compromise ongoing investigations and prosecutions, but I think there’s a great deal of latitude for us to contribute and to participate,” he says.

Even so, he says it’s possibly the inquiry will lead to new criminal charges being laid.

“Information that does come to light in an inquiry can then inform and be the basis upon which further investigations can be done. I’ll also tell you, we’re not going to simply wait two years for the outcome of this inquiry,” he says. “You know, there’s important work to be done.”

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

As for what he hopes comes out of this fact-finding mission, he says improvements have already been made.

“And made some very significant new investments to restore and build up law enforcement’s capacity in the RCMP, CBSA, FINTRAC to create much greater transparency,” he says.

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

More resources to law enforcement are supposed to be in place by the end of June.

Blair, who is also the minister responsible for border security, says there’s a few signficant investigations already underway involving the Port of Vancouver.

“We’ve been working very hard to strengthen our capacity to deal effectively with that. We just, for example, brought in new regulations to give CBSA additional powers for the detection and therefore, deterrence of the precursor chemicals that are being used in the manufacturing of drugs that are killing Canadians,” he says.

The inquiry headed up by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen is slated to wrap up in May of 2021.