THERE are currently no dedicated federal RCMP officers in B.C. investigating criminal money laundering, according to the latest report into money laundering in the province by Peter German.
As part of his review, German, a former senior RCMP officer, was asked to examine why so few money laundering cases have been investigated or prosecuted in B.C., despite the widespread and internationally recognized laundering activities taking place in Metro Vancouver.
In partial answer to the question, German has reported to the Province that there are currently no federal RCMP officers dedicated to money laundering investigations.
“We have accelerated the release of this portion of the report so that the federal government and the public are aware of what is happening to police the international crime groups laundering money through our provincial economy,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “What is happening is nothing.”
German advises the Province that the RCMP team assigned to deal with anti-money laundering, within the Federal Serious Organized Crime branch, is more than three-quarters unstaffed (currently five of 26 employees), and that the five remaining officers are tasked with referring potential criminal cases to B.C.’s Civil Forfeiture Office.
German found that the only RCMP resources dedicated to anti-money laundering investigations within B.C. are provincially funded or operate under the provincial policing agreement.
“Every single dollar in the federal budget for anti-money laundering needs to come to B.C. yesterday,” Eby said. “Police experts need to be recruited from across Canada for a specialized team that can start now. There’s not enough time to start from scratch. The money launderers here are already experts, they’re already rich and now we know they’re better resourced.”
German delivered his report to government on March 31 and a thorough review is underway prior to its full release to ensure ongoing investigations are not compromised and named parties have an opportunity to respond. The remaining chapters will be released later this spring.
IN response to the release of “a partial chapter in Peter German’s review,” Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett, Criminal Operations Officer – Federal, Investigative Services and Organized Crime (BC RCMP) issued the following statement:
WE fully participated in the review and look forward to seeing the full report and its findings or recommendations.
First, I’d like to acknowledge the police officers and civilian staff within provincial and federal programs that have and continue to investigate money laundering in BC. Their level of commitment, dedication and efforts need to be recognized.
Chapter 6-4 of the report continues to acknowledge the increasingly complex nature of money laundering and some of the challenges when conducting criminal investigations. Just as policing has evolved, so have the crimes we investigate, including money laundering.
The Federal Policing program has evolved from commodity based investigative teams to specialized groups that conduct investigations on a risk-based assessment. We have seen over the years that individuals, groups or organized crime syndicates do not limit themselves to a single commodity or type of crime. We have seen that a firearm investigation can ultimately find a nexus to drugs, gangs or financial crimes.
We created a Financial Integrity group that handles investigations previously described as commercial crime, proceeds of crime or market enforcement crimes. We recognize that the five resources, referenced in the Chapter released, was from a snapshot in time and didn’t capture all personnel who are involved in cases where money laundering is a component. Federal Policing in BC currently has in excess of 40 prioritized projects underway, including 8 that involve money laundering. This does not include the assistance provided nationally and internationally in other compelling investigations nor cases still before the courts.
We are mindful that the costs associated to delivering on policing, particularly in complex money laundering investigations, have increased over the years. We are continuously adapting to ensure that our human and financial resources are prioritized and aligned to address the greatest risks to public safety. A careful analysis is done when determining the types of projects that we can take on. This includes the support that will be needed to move them from the investigative stages to a successful prosecution. It is also important to note that cases are referred to civil forfeiture after criminal judicial options have been exhausted and to take advantage of the robust civil forfeiture legislation now available.
We work to leverage other law enforcement agencies in BC, Canada and internationally as well. It should be noted that our investigative efforts have supported a number of prosecutions in other countries which have also had a net benefit to Canadians.
We will remain part of a series of committees, included a Provincial / Federal multi-agency working group which is looking at enhancing communication, information sharing and alignment to better address issues and risks related to fraud, money laundering and tax
Recruitment and retention continues to be a challenge for the law enforcement community. We continue to adapt and bring in specialists (e.g. forensic accountants, cybercrime experts) to assist with these investigations. It is a competitive market for these skills sets, with finite applications. This is also at a time when we are dealing with the competing policing priorities, which include terrorism, gang violence, the opioid crisis, including fentanyl, missing and murdered women, human trafficking as well as child exploitation and the demands for frontline policing resources.
Regardless of the challenges, we continue to successfully investigate transnational Organized Crime and money laundering in BC and have several priority investigations underway.
I also wish to acknowledge the work done by our partners at CFSEU BC and the Joint Illegal Gaming Investigation Team (JIGIT). Since JIGIT was established in April 2016 they have worked hard targeting and disrupting organized crime and gang involvement in a series of complex illegal gaming investigations. They have also increased awareness amongst our many partners and stakeholders. JIGIT’s ability to move from being a concept to a specialized, and skilled investigative team within a short period of time needs to be commended.
The RCMP will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and regulatory bodies to find ways on reducing, deterring and detecting money laundering. We also remain committed to working with our provincial and federal prosecution services and the capacity of our judicial system.
While the issue of money laundering is complex, the discussions surrounding it have been beneficial in highlighting the topic. This has allowed our partners in the provincial government to strengthen policies and practices which has made money laundering more difficult, and allowed police agencies to continue to educate the public about the effects it has on our economy and society.
We welcome any efforts that will increase our collective capacity to address money laundering in BC.