NDP join Conservatives, Greens with promise of national money-laundering inquiry | Vancouver Sun

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh promised Wednesday a national money-laundering inquiry, increasing to three the number of parties that have now made the election commitment.

The Conservatives and Greens have also promised national inquiries as part of their campaigns. Voters go to the polls Oct. 21.

In Vancouver, Singh unveiled a plan to make B.C. more affordable that includes the creation of a dedicated RCMP anti-money-laundering unit supported with $20 million in additional funding each year, $10 million of that earmarked for B.C.

The NDP would also create a national beneficial ownership registry for corporations, trusts and partnerships to provide transparency of who are the true owners of property.

“Money laundering is a crucial issue here in B.C. It is driving up the cost of housing,” said Singh.

A national inquiry is needed, said Singh, for a number of reasons, including to determine why there hasn’t been sufficient investigation into a criminal activity that is so widespread.

He pointed to the failed federal prosecution of Silver International, an underground bank in Richmond, allegedly at the centre of an operation that laundered as much as $220 million a year, and possibly as much as $1 billion.

“This is a direct issue the federal government can play a massive role in flagging, identifying and in ending,” he said.

A recent B.C. government-commissioned report estimated money laundering at $7 billion in B.C. in 2018 and nearly $47 billion in Canada.

Singh did not provide a cost estimate for the inquiry. The Conservatives have budgeted about $20 million for a two-year inquiry.

The Liberals have made no promise of a national inquiry, although they said before the election they would support the B.C. NDP government’s money-laundering inquiry, expected to begin next spring.

Instead, the Trudeau Liberals have said they would prefer to focus on carrying out promised initiatives that include $70 million in new funding over five years. The money is meant to create a money-laundering task force, increase expertise in trade-based money laundering, and support financial intelligence gathering.

Another $68.9 million over the next five years was earmarked to strengthen policing capacity, some of which is meant to go toward money-laundering investigations.

In their platform, the Greens have promised a public inquiry into what the RCMP and other federal agencies knew about money laundering in B.C. casinos.

Money laundering has been a hot-button issue in B.C., but has also been gaining attention nationally, an issue profiled in Postmedia investigations between 2017 and 2019.

The investigations found millions of dollars were being laundered through Lower Mainland casinos and that money-laundering prosecutions are rare and difficult in B.C.

Postmedia investigations also found criminals have used shell companies to launder tens of millions of dollars and that at least $43 million in properties were tied to B.C.’s largest-ever money-laundering case.

This content was originally published here.

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