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Alberta

7 arrests. Police seize $16 million in cash, real estate, and vehicles from Alberta, BC money laundering operation

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News release from ALERT (Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team)

Project Collector halts Cross-Canada money laundering

Calgary… A professional money laundering organization, working in support of some of Canada’s largest crime groups, has been dismantled following an unprecedented investigation by ALERT and the RCMP.

Project Collector is a three-year financial crime investigation conducted jointly between ALERT Calgary’s financial crime team and RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC). The investigation began in Calgary and led to the dismantling of a nation-wide criminal organization involved in money laundering.

Seven suspects have been charged, with arrests taking place in Calgary and Vancouver. In addition, more than $16 million in bank accounts, real estate holdings, and vehicles have been placed under criminal restraint.

Proceeds of crime from some of Canada’s largest criminal organizations were allegedly being transported between Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. In a one-year period alone investigators identified the transfer of $24 million in cash, while the group’s money laundering activities date back to at least 2013.

Project Collector began in July 2018 after $1 million in cash, that was destined for Vancouver, was intercepted in Calgary. ALERT and RCMP launched an extensive investigation that relied heavily on intelligence from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).

Project Collector revealed that the group operated pseudo-bank branches at either side of the country, which while holding large cash reserves, allowed organized crime groups utilizing its service to transfer funds while avoiding the detection of financial banking institutions and authorities. The money laundering was primarily connected back to drug trafficking proceeds.

In total, 71 criminal offences are being pursued against the money laundering organization. Charges include participation in a criminal organization, laundering proceeds of crime, and trafficking property obtained by crime. Charges were also laid under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.

The arrests took place in September 2022:

  • Lien Ha, 42-year-old from Calgary,
  • Donald Hoang, 26-year-old from Vancouver;
  • Van Duc Hoang, 64-year-old from Vancouver;
  • Van Thi Nguyen, 62-year-old from Vancouver;
  • Cynthia Nguyen, 42-year-old from Calgary;
  • Yuong Nguyen, 43-year-old from Calgary; and
  • Grace Tang, 25-year-old from Vancouver.

Link to charge sheet (PDF)

During the course of the investigation, search warrants were executed at a total of 10 homes in the Calgary region, Toronto area, and Vancouver.

Project Collector relied on the assistance of a number of police agencies and specialized units, including: Calgary Police Service, Canada Revenue Agency, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), Forensic Accounting Management Group (FAMG), Vancouver Police, Toronto Police, Edmonton Police, Halton Police, Seized Property Management Directorate, and RCMP units in Ontario and British Columbia.

Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.

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Alberta

TC Energy shuts down Keystone pipeline system after leak in Nebraska

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CALGARY — TC Energy Corp. says it has shut down its Keystone pipeline after a leak in Nebraska.

The company says it has mobilized people and equipment in response to a confirmed release of oil into a creek, about 32 kilometres south of Steele City, Neb.

TC Energy says an emergency shutdown and response was initiated Wednesday night after a pressure drop in the system was detected.

It says the affected segment of the pipeline has been isolated and booms have been deployed to prevent the leaked oil from moving downstream.

The Keystone pipeline system stretches 4,324 kilometres and helps move Canadian and U.S. crude oil to markets around North America.

TC Energy says the system remains shutdown as its crews respond and work to contain and recover the oil.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP)

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Two deputy chief medical officers resign from their positions with Alberta Health

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Edmonton – Alberta’s two deputy chief medical officers of health are leaving their roles — less than a month after Dr. Deena Hinshaw was removed as the province’s top doctor.

Health Minister Jason Copping confirmed during question period Wednesday that both of the doctors have submitted letters of resignation.

“They are still continuing to work at this point in time,” he said in the legislature. “We are in the process of actually looking to fill those roles.”

A statement from Alberta Health said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra and Dr. Jing Hu, who are listed as public health physicians on the department’s website, have given notice.

When reached by her department email, Salvaterra responded: “Unfortunately, we are not able to comment.”

She later added that she respects and admires both Dr. Hinshaw and Dr. Hu.

“They are brilliant, hard-working, and compassionate public health physicians and I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work alongside them for these past 14 months.”

Salvaterra, who has extensive public health experience including as the medical officer of health for Peterborough, Ont., joined the office in October 2021.

Her career in public health includes work in “the COVID-19 response, mental health, the opioid response, women’s health, poverty reduction, health equity, community food security and building stronger relationships with First Nations.”

Hu’s out-of-office message said her “last day at work with Alberta Health was Nov. 18, 2022,” and noted she wouldn’t have access to the department email after that date.

She got extensive training in China and at the University of Calgary before joining the health department in January 2020.

Their resignations came within a month of Hinshaw, who became the face of Alberta’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, being removed from her position.

Hinshaw was replaced by Dr. Mark Joffe, a senior executive member of Alberta Health Services, on an interim basis.

“Dr. Joffe will be supported by medical officers of health within AHS, by other staff in the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and by the Public Health Division,” said the statement from Alberta Health late Wednesday.

“We expect these changes to have no impact on the department’s and Dr. Joffe’s ability to meet the requirements of the Public Health Act.”

Hinshaw’s dismissal didn’t come as a surprise.

Premier Danielle Smith announced on her first day in office in October that she would be replaced.

Smith has made it clear that she blames both Hinshaw and Alberta Health Services for failing to deliver the best advice and care for Albertans as the hospital system came close to buckling in successive waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of the bad decisions were made by Alberta Health Services on the basis of bad advice from the chief medical officer of health,” Smith told reporters on Oct. 22.

Smith has not placed the blame on front-line doctors and nurses but broadly on AHS senior management. Joffe, while serving as chief medical officer of health, retains his role in AHS senior management as a vice-president responsible for areas in cancer and clinical care.

Hinshaw, an Alberta-trained public health specialist, became a celebrity of sorts in the first wave of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, as she delivered regular, sometimes daily, updates to Albertans on the virus, its spread and methods to contain it.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

— By Colette Derworiz in Calgary.

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