Column: cleaning up a legacy of dirty money

Premier John Horgan on the recent money laundering report

For more than a decade, the B.C. Liberal government chose to ignore a cycle of money laundering linked to organized crime, the overdose crisis, the red-hot real estate market and skyrocketing housing costs. Now, British Columbians are paying the price for that choice.

Last week, Attorney General David Eby released an anti-money laundering report, commissioned by our government and authored by former R.C.M.P Deputy Commissioner Peter German.

Mr. German’s independent review details large-scale, transnational money laundering that has been happening at an alarming rate in B.C. casinos.

British Columbians saw disturbing footage of bags of money being dropped off at casinos with the express purpose of being cleaned up.

This money was made through illegal activities that harmed British Columbians. Despite being warned multiple times about these activities, the former B.C. Liberal government didn’t care.

It could have been a scene from a mobster movie, but it was real life. B.C. casinos have unwittingly become laundromats for an infusion of dirty money into the province.

Organized crime used something often called the “Vancouver model” to take advantage of Lower Mainland casinos and other sectors of the B.C. economy — including real estate — to launder money.

Mr. German describes the money-laundering situation in B.C. as a “collective system failure.” The situation worsened year over year.

Instead of accepting responsibility for this failure, the B.C. Liberals have blamed everyone but themselves. And when they were criticized for their 2009 decision to shut down the integrated police task force responsible for casinos, the B.C. Liberals even tried to blame the police. British Columbians deserve better.

Our government is making different choices. We are moving immediately to get dirty money out of B.C. casinos, stop the cycle of crime, and help our communities thrive.

Our government has already implemented nine of the 48 recommendations in the German report, in an effort to put an end the flow of dirty money into B.C. casinos.

The remaining recommendations are in the initial stages of implementation, or are being reviewed by government in preparation for further action.

We will work with key partners, including the federal government, to fight money laundering in all its forms.

It will take time to undo the damage done to B.C.’s international reputation, but our government is getting started right away. We’re working to restore confidence and make sure our province is not a haven for dirty money.

Money laundering isn’t a victimless crime. It hurts people and communities in B.C.

We’re working to make life better for you and your family. That includes taking action now against money laundering in B.C.

John Horgan is the premier of British Columbia.

READ MORE: Money laundering in B.C. casinos was a ‘collective’ system failure: report

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