17 Jun 2019
The government of Canada has agreed to take new steps to fight money laundering, including launching a consultation on corporate transparency requirements and allocating more funding for law enforcement.
The measures, announced in Vancouver on Thursday, will direct an additional $10 million CAD for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to invest in information management, IT infrastructure and digital tools that could help investigators uncover complex financial crimes, according to a statement by Canada’s Department of Finance.
The funding plan follows a governmental budget announced in March that allocates $68.9 million over the next five years, and $20 million annually on an ongoing basis, for the RCMP.
Participating Canadian provinces and territories will consider in the consultation whether to require companies to disclose their beneficial owners in a public register, according to the department, which also announced the formation of a working group with the Federation of Law Societies of Canada that will meet later this month to discuss how to prevent money laundering.
The government of British Columbia (BC), which in April announced legislation that would require beneficial ownership disclosures, launched a public inquiry last month into the “extent, growth, evolution and methods of money laundering” in the province. Studies commissioned by the province concluded earlier this year that criminals had likely transferred at least $7 billion CAD into its real estate sector as of 2018.
Following Thursday’s announcement, BC Finance Minister Carole James told reporters that her government would lobby Ottawa to increase the number of federal investigators it assigns to Western Canada, according to a report by the Globe and Mail.
“We feel that the critical piece that needs to be addressed is the issue of law enforcement,” James said, according to the newspaper. “We certainly are doing everything we can to share data, to share information, but the information is only as good as the people that will move it ahead in criminal investigations.”
As part of the plan disclosed Thursday, Canadian officials will also draft anti-money laundering best practices to be delivered to federal ministers by January 2020.
“Our government’s message is simple: criminals, domestic and foreign, should not be able to hide their illegal money anywhere in Canada,” Minister of Finance Bill Morneau said in a statement. “When they do, it’s Canadians who pay the price, in high housing costs and increased criminal activity in their community.”
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