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Post-secondary schools to review payment policies to thwart money laundering

Last Updated May 28, 2019 at 2:54 pm PDT

The province is now turning its attention to B.C.'s universities and colleges as it continues to deal with money laundering. (Liza Yuzda/NEWS 1130)

Province asking post-secondary schools to review policies involving the acceptance of large amounts of cash

The move comes as the German report noted students were paying with cash and getting a refund in cheques

A second report found more than $7 billion had been laundered through B.C. in 2018

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The fight against money laundering in the province continues, with the B.C. government now looking into how tuition is paid at post-secondary institutions.

The province wants to ensure universities and colleges have policies in place to avoid becoming targets for laundering when accepting large amounts of cash.

This follows a report by former senior Mountie Peter German where he advised the government of people paying thousands of dollars in “suspicious cash” for multiple semesters in advance but then seeking refunds by cheque.

“A student brought in bulk cash in excess of what was owed to the institution and attempted to use the institution as a bank to withdraw, which would enable the first stage of money laundering called ‘placement,'” said Attorney General David Eby.

“its a serious allegation we don’t know the extent of it,” Eby added.

All post-secondary institutions are being asked to stop accepting any large cash payments from single students. They are also being asked to share copies of any existing policies to help the province guide future decisions.

Schools have a month to detail their cash payment policy before the government decides if, and what, action is needed.

“The source of that cash and why it’s being paid in cash instead of through traceable bank draft or some other document and you would ordinarily expect in the regular course of business so it raises all the same questions that causes FINTRAC to track those transactions in the casinos this just happens to be in post-secondary,” Eby added.

RELATED: Most British Columbians approve of public inquiry into money laundering: poll

When asked what constitutes “large cash amounts,” Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark says it could be anything above $20,000.

German’s second report was released earlier in May. The report focused on laundering in real estate and luxury cars, but post-secondary institutions were also named as a vulnerable sector.

The province has a total of 25 public post-secondary institutions with more than 430,000 students.

One report from the Expert Panel on Money Laundering in Real Estate estimated that more than $7 billion in dirty money had been laundered in B.C. last year.