12 Jun 2020
British Columbia and Ontario provide a base of operations for an elite network of professional money launderers identified by police in 2019 and washing “upwards of hundreds of millions” per year, B.C.’s Cullen Commission into money laundering heard this week.
While Global News has reported on sophisticated transnational money-laundering networks that are operating separately in Ontario and B.C., this is the first indication from Canadian police that such an operation has merged between the two provinces.
The Cullen Commission heard from RCMP Chief Supt. Rob Gilchrist, director general of Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, that B.C. appears to have more high-level organized crime groups and professional money-laundering networks than any other province.
Among 14 criminal groups assessed as high-level national threats, 10 are linked to B.C., the inquiry heard. Gilchrist said three of the four high-level threat groups in Canada that were assessed in 2019 as being linked to money laundering for international drug traffickers were connected to B.C.
The elite network operating out of Ontario and B.C. described by Gilchrist seems to echo the money-laundering blueprint used by the international loan-sharking network targeted in E-Pirate, an RCMP investigation into B.C. casino money laundering, drug trafficking and underground banks linked to mainland China.
Gilchrist did not associate the Ontario-B.C. criminal group with any previously named organizations but detailed its operations.
“This network represents several service providers, nationally and internationally, that conduct self-laundering and third-party money laundering,” he said. Gilchrist said the group involves highly experienced career criminals that use casinos, underground banks, real estate, shell companies, nominees and trade-based money laundering to wash money for many different criminal organizations.
Trade-based money laundering was a method recognized by E-Pirate investigators.
In E-Pirate, the RCMP said a Richmond underground bank was using fake trade invoices from Chinese companies to cover wire transfers to banks in Mexico or Peru. This way, drug traffickers could ship cocaine into Canada using wire transfers from banks without having to travel to Latin America.
Gilchrist said the professional money-laundering network operating from Ontario and B.C. is likely laundering well over hundreds of millions per year, but it is hard to quantify exact amounts.
By Sam Cooper, Global News, 11 June 2020
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