The federal government should be putting all of its anti-money laundering resources into B.C., but there are currently none except those paid for by the province, Attorney General David Eby says.
Eby released one chapter of former RCMP investigator Peter German’s latest report Monday, saying he is doing it to put pressure on Ottawa to allocate more of its latest budget to helping track down illegal money going into real estate and luxury goods.
German clarified that there are 25 RCMP positions for B.C. looking into casino-related crime, but they are funded by the province through its contract with the national force for major crime. Most of those are focused on referring cases to civil forfeiture to seize suspected proceeds of crime such as homes or luxury cars, Eby said.
The selective release of one chapter of the report is being done early because the federal government is considering allocating more resources, as confirmed by Bill Blair, federal minister for border security and organized crime reduction, in a visit to Victoria March 27.
“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.”
B.C. Liberal MLA Mike Morris, the previous solicitor general and a long-time RCMP officer before that, said the vacancies in federally funded police was well known in 2017 and before.
“All [Eby] had to do was walk down the hallway and talk to the solicitor general,” Morris said. “He would have had all the same information without commissioning another report.”
The released chapter says the RCMP’s E Division money laundering team has 25 regular officer positions, but only 11 of those are currently staffed.
“When we met with the RCMP and reviewed its response, the RCMP noted that only five of the 11 officers were currently working as investigators,” German wrote. “The other six were absent from duty due to training and other reasons.”
The five are “responsible for referring files to the provincial civil forfeiture office,” the report says. “In other words, there are no RCMP members from its federal business line who are currently dedicated to criminal money laundering investigations.”