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Cullen Commission Money Laundering Report Estimates Billions Laundered in B.C. Every Year

Today In BC | Jane Skrypnek | Jun 15, 2022

Austin Cullen Cullen Commission Report - Cullen Commission Money Laundering Report Estimates Billions Laundered in B.C. Every YearB.C. money laundering report calls for new law enforcement unit, provincial office

B.C.’s long-awaited report into money laundering was released Wednesday (June 15), with 101 recommendations including the creation of a new law enforcement unit and permanent commissioner dedicated to addressing the estimated multi-billion dollar problem.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen was commissioned to lead the inquiry in May 2019 after a series of reports to the government found “extraordinary” levels of money laundering in the real estate, casino, horse racing and luxury car sectors, fuelled in part by the illegal drug trade. In his final report, Cullen says human trafficking and fraud also feed into the problem.

Lack of action, prioritization allowed problem to thrive

The 1,800-page Cullen Final Report points to a lack of effective action from law enforcement, government and regulatory agencies as the reason for why money laundering has been allowed to grow for so long. It also aims blame at the federal agency responsible for receiving and analyzing information related to money laundering threats, FINTRAC, which the commissioner says has done a poor job of relaying information back to provinces.

See:  Guide: How to spot potential money laundering

In 2019/2020, for example, FINTRAC received over 31 million reports, but only disclosed 2,057 to law enforcement agencies across Canada, and just 355 to B.C., the report says. As a result, reporting entities have begun “defensive reporting,” where they send in information to FINTRAC even if they are unsure of its value. This causes high-volume, low-value reporting, Cullen found.

To solve this, Cullen says B.C. law enforcement needs its own dedicated money laundering intelligence and investigations unit. At the legislative level, Cullen also recommends the government establishes an office for a permanent and independent Anti-Money Laundering Commissioner, who will provide strategic oversight on B.C.’s response.

“Because the damage it (money laundering) causes is not as visible as that caused by other crimes (such as violent crime) it is often afforded less priority and attention,” Cullen states in his report.

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