31 May 2019
The government of British Columbia has asked public colleges and universities and private post-secondary schools to bar large cash payments from students as part of a broad crackdown on money laundering in the Canadian province.
A recent report commissioned by the government found that students had paid thousands of dollars in suspicious funds in advance for multiple semesters only to cancel their enrollment and request that the funds be returned by cheque—a sign that the institutions could be unwittingly laundering money, according to a statement published Tuesday by the province.
BC officials have subsequently sent letters formally requesting that 25 public schools and 342 private career-training and degree-granting institutions review their financial policies to ensure that large cash payments from students are not accepted and to engage with provincial authorities about any planned amendments to such policies.
“We need to protect post-secondary institutions as places for higher learning and skills development, not alleged places for organized crime to clean dirty money,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Our government has not waited to act while the independent reviews, and now the inquiry, into money laundering have been ongoing.”
Earlier this month, the government launched a public inquiry into money laundering after three reports indicated that criminals had likely funneled dirty money through the province’s real estate, legal firms, trusts, casinos and other entities.
The probe is expected to produce a final report in May 2021 that will evaluate the performance of supervisory authorities, the effectiveness of regulatory powers and the hurdles law enforcement officials face when investigating money laundering.
“This inquiry will bring answers about who knew what when and who is profiting from money laundering in our province,” BC Attorney General David Eby said in a statement published in mid-May.
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