Skip to main content

Premier John Horgan says a public inquiry may be needed to determine how money laundering infiltrated B.C. casinos, a scourge the head of a recent review warned could seep into the real estate market.

At a news conference Wednesday, Mr. Horgan said he had not ruled out an inquiry that would assign blame for the conditions that former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German said allowed criminals to turn casinos into “laundromats” for illicit money.

“The findings of the German report when it comes to money laundering in casinos was absolutely horrifying,” he said. “… There are a whole bunch of things I would like answers to over the past 16 years,” he added, referring to the period of time in which the BC. Liberals governed the province.

Story continues below advertisement

The government last week released a report that found that B.C.’s dysfunctional regulatory regime for casinos allowed large-scale transnational money laundering by organized crime. The report, written by Mr. German, said money laundering threatened to trickle into other sectors of the economy. He called for further investigation into the vulnerable areas, including real estate.

Mr. Horgan said he had discussed the issue with Finance Minister Carole James and Attorney-General David Eby. He said there would be some direction on how the government intends to proceed in a few weeks.

Asked about a possible public inquiry that would assign blame, Mr. Horgan said, “I haven’t ruled that out.”

He said he, Ms. James and Mr. Eby share concerns about money laundering in real estate.

Mr. Eby in an interview said he is working with the Finance Minister on the terms of reference for the next phase of the review. He said the focus of the casino review was easier to establish.

“We had lists of clients and amounts, and video surveillance, and all these kinds of pieces that made it much easier to define the scope of the issue and what needed to be done,” he said. “Real estate is more challenging, and so we want to take the time to get it right.”

When asked if he believed money laundering had affected real estate prices, Mr. Eby said that question would be part of the review.

Story continues below advertisement

“That’s one of the questions we’ll be asking in this review, is how much of an influence can we understand that this has had on the market and what is the extent of the problem that we have,” he said. “Is this a handful of people, or is this more widespread than that?”

Cameron Muir, chief economist with the B.C. Real Estate Association, said everyone is in favour of cracking down on money laundering. However, he said he does not believe it is driving the real estate market.

The amount laundered through Lower Mainland casinos is unknown, but Mr. German has said that it was well in excess of $100-million over a decade.

Mr. Muir said the total dollar value of residential sales in Greater Vancouver last year was $37-billion.

“This is not having a major impact on the housing market,” he said in an interview.

Mr. German’s report found criminal organizations linked to China, Colombia, Mexico and elsewhere had taken advantage of Vancouver-area casinos, exploiting gaps left wide open as different agencies responsible for gambling and regulation waged “internecine” turf wars.

Story continues below advertisement

The report made 48 recommendations and the government last week said it had begun implementing all of them.

Andrew Weaver, leader of the BC Green Party that is supporting the NDP government, in a statement wrote he was pleased the Premier was not taking any options off the table when it comes to money laundering.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter