The RCMP has more than five people working on money laundering, which can’t be separated from the range of activities by international organized crime, a spokesman for the B.C. RCMP says.
Assistant Commander Kevin Hackett of the B.C. released a statement in response to B.C. Attorney General David Eby’s claim Monday that the RCMP’s federally funded division has only five people devoted to investigating money laundering and its involvement in B.C. real estate.
The count of five officers actually on duty out of 25 funded positions “was from a snapshot in time and didn’t capture all personnel who are involved in cases where money laundering is a component,” Hackett said. “Federal policing in B.C. currently has in excess of 40 prioritized projects underway, including eight that involve money laundering.
Recruiting and retaining forensic accountants, cybercrime experts and other in-demand specialists is also a competitive market internationally, he said.
“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 demands for front-line policing resources.”
Eby said Tuesday that his independent investigator Peter German had to ask repeatedly to find out the actual staffing complement, after first being told there were 26 funded positions devoted to B.C.’s situation.
“The time that the snapshot was taken is when we’re facing an international level of criticism in Canada for our failure on anti-money laundering policing,” Eby said. “So it’s hard to think of a worse time.”
Eby released a single chapter of German’s report Monday to put pressure on Ottawa to allocate funds from its latest budget to stepping up organized crime investigations in B.C.
Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton, spokesman for the joint organized crime unit that combines RCMP and municipal police efforts, noted that its illegal gaming investigation team was established three years ago.
“In May 2016, only one month after its creation, the Joint Illegal Gaming Investigation Team initiated an investigation into the activities of an organized crime group that was allegedly involved in operating an illegal money laundering network,” Hougton said, adding that multiple arrests were made after an investigation lasting almost a year.