Wednesday, April 3, 2019

U.S. deems Canada ‘major money laundering country’ as gangs exploit weak law enforcement

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The U.S. Department of State has designated Canada a “major money laundering country” where foreign drug-trafficking gangs are exploiting weak law enforcement and soft laws.

The March 2019 report, which places Canada on a short list of countries vulnerable to significant drug money laundering transactions — such as Afghanistan, the British Virgin Islands, China, Colombia and Macau — underlines a number of threats reported over the past year in Global News investigations, such as the laundering of fentanyl-trafficking proceeds from China through British Columbia casinos, real estate and underground banks.

The report says Canada is especially vulnerable to money laundering through casinos, real estate, money services businesses, currency exchanges, wire exchanges, offshore corporations, legal “funnel accounts” and bulk cash and hawala transactions — meaning international exchanges of credit and debt between criminal bankers without money actually crossing borders.

According to the most recent data, from 2010 to 2014, only 169 charges of money laundering led to convictions in Canada, the report says.

The report notes that Canadian police do not have direct access to the databases of Fintrac, Canada’s financial intelligence agency. Fintrac collects data on suspicious transactions from entities such as banks and realtors (although realtors often do not comply with reporting laws, according to Fintrac).

But this cache of searchable information, which would help police identify suspects potentially involved in professional money laundering, can only be released in focused disclosures and if Fintrac deems it highly likely that crimes are taking place.  (more...)

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