Calling for a public inquiry into money-laundering

Feb 28, 2019 | 41-4, Blog, Governance, Question Period, Video | 2 comments

Over the past few weeks the BC Green Caucus has been asking the Attorney General about money-laundering. There are substantial allegations of corruption that need investigating.

Indeed, the Attorney General is going good work on this issue and gone way further than the previous government. But, it is time to take this out of the political realm and establish an independent public inquiry with the authority to get to the bottom of this issue and offer substantive recommendations to address the institutional issues that have made us vulnerable.

I join my colleagues Andrew Weaver and Sonia Furstenau in calling for a public inquiry.


A. Olsen:

For the past two weeks, my colleagues and I have been raising the issue of — groan — money laundering. I know; it’s such a groaner, eh? We’ve asked about top investigators losing their jobs when they tried to take action. We asked about the lack of prosecutions and how this shameful situation is heavily linked to housing and the opioid crisis. I mean, these are just groaner issues in this province. I get it from the official opposition.

Yesterday the Attorney General stated that he agreed that “a public inquiry does bring the benefit of going into significantly more depth on these issues.” The Attorney General has done important work, but when is enough evidence enough? The government is agreeing that a public inquiry could be useful, but not actually wanting to start one.

My question is to the Attorney General. When will the public know if this government is serious about a public inquiry?

Hon. D. Eby:

I thank the member for the question, and I thank the Green Party for raising these issues. I think about the people in the Lower Mainland, the families in rental housing who earn a good income, who have been priced out of the market because they’re competing, in part, with people earning money illegally. They’re competing with people who are evading taxes. I don’t think that’s enjoyable, and I don’t think that’s wacky. I think that’s the worst.

So when we look at this issue of money laundering and the connection to the real estate market, we take it incredibly seriously. The first priority for our government has to been to stop the activity that’s taking place. That’s something the Finance Minister has been working on since day one, that’s something I’ve been working on since day one, and that’s something the Premier has been working on since day one, because we get how serious this issue is — unlike some political parties.

Now, I’ve also tried to be clear that we are doing this work right now with the reviews to stop this activity. That doesn’t mean that there is not benefit, potentially, in a public inquiry and doing deeper work on that. But our first priority is to stop the activity, and that’s the work we’re doing right now.

Mr. Speaker:

Saanich North and the Islands on a supplemental.

A. Olsen:

Frankly, the silence from our colleagues in the opposition tells a story. The groaning on these questions paints the rest of the picture.

My colleagues and I appreciate that the Attorney General wants to ensure that he’s taking the right path. However, we have an abundance of evidence to support an inquiry, and it keeps growing. Three-quarters of British Columbians support it, and thousands have signed petitions. Legal experts, major unions, advocacy organizations and municipal governments in this province are calling on the government to launch an inquiry.

Yesterday we again made international news and again for all the wrong reasons when the Washington Post had a headline that called the situation in British Columbia “an emergency.” We agree.

An independent inquiry is critical to exposing the truth and getting to the bottom of this. This is what British Columbians are expecting, and this is what they deserve.

My question is to the Attorney General. Finally, will he commit to launching a public inquiry?

Hon. D. Eby:

I read the article with interest in the Washington Post, one of many articles, by the way, in international media that feature the scandals of the previous government, including this one. We take it incredibly seriously. We are taking the steps to stop this activity as quickly as we can.

The article relied heavily on a lot of material that was made public through the efforts of this government — to bring forward a report that was being kept secret, that wasn’t being released, to bring forward the issue that was being kept secret, that wasn’t being advised to the public, even though, publicly, international anti-money-laundering personnel were being educated on the Vancouver model of money laundering at the same time as British Columbians were being told it was functionally impossible to launder money in our casinos.

It’s an unacceptable scenario. I understand why 75 percent of people want a public inquiry. I understand why the members for the Green Party want a public inquiry. I also hope that the member understands why we’re working as quickly as we can to stop the activity as our first priority.

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  1. Lois Eaton

    Is there a legal or governing reason why stopping money laundering and a public inquiry cannot occur at the same time?

    • Adam Olsen

      No. It would be a similar process to the Charbonneau Commission as I understand it.


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