Connect with us

National

Feds announce $10M for RCMP to fight money laundering after ministers’ meeting

Published

5 minute read

VANCOUVER — The federal government has announced $10 million to help the RCMP prosecute money laundering after a special meeting of Canada’s finance and justice ministers to discuss the pervasive problem.

British Columbia has been pushing for nationwide action and while its finance minister said the funding falls short, she stressed it was crucial that other provinces join the effort.

“Criminals don’t know boundaries. They don’t know provincial borders,” said Carole James on Thursday. “If we close loopholes here, we know that dirty money will be looking for another opportunity.”

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair also attended the meeting. Alberta and Saskatchewan were the only provinces that did not participate.

James said it should be no surprise that B.C. will continue to push for more money for enforcement. A recent report found the federal RCMP team responsible for money laundering only had five officers in the province.

“We certainly are doing everything we can to share data,” she said. “But the information is only as good as the people who will move it ahead with criminal investigations and get the prosecutions done.”

Morneau said the new funds will help co-ordinate information so the RCMP can hold criminals accountable.

The government dedicated “significant” funding of about $160 million in its 2019 budget toward understanding how money laundering is happening in Canada, Morneau added.

He said the ministers discussed making corporate ownership of real estate more transparent, with provinces including Ontario and Manitoba agreeing that beneficial ownership needed to be less opaque.

B.C. has introduced legislation to establish a beneficial ownership registry that is expected to be operational in 2020. The Ontario Real Estate Association has called for its provincial government to do the same.

Asked why Ottawa cannot urgently create a framework for provinces to establish such registries, Morneau said there are issues around privacy and the burden of regulations on corporations. But he said he heard Thursday that everyone was willing to take next steps.

He also said ministers discussed gaps in the system and the need to include lawyers in the fight against money laundering. The federal government is working with the Federation of Law Societies, he said.

Lawyers don’t have to report to Canada’s anti-money laundering agency, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, or FINTRAC.

Blair said lawyer-client privilege is a long-standing and useful principle, but the federal government is working with law societies to find ways to ensure there is appropriate oversight.

Eby stressed that FINTRAC’s limitations go even further. A number of sectors don’t have to report to the agency, including luxury cars and post-secondary schools, and even when other sectors file reports they can’t be sure the centre will investigate, he said.

Apart from than the new RCMP funding, the ministers emerged from the meeting without anything firm to announce.

Blair said he was encouraged by the commitments of Manitoba, Nova Scotia and others to work together.

“Organized crime is motivated entirely by profit. By working together, we can take that profit away from them. By doing that, we make all our communities safer,” he said.

B.C. called a public inquiry into money laundering last month after two reports shed new light on the issue. One report estimated $7.4 billion in dirty money was washed in B.C. last year, but it also suggested Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have a worse problem.

Ontario’s Finance Minister Vic Fedeli wrote to Morneau this week to request federal money on par with B.C. to fund anti-money laundering initiatives. Fedeli said he was concerned that the bulk of the money in the federal budget would go toward B.C.

Blair said the ministers didn’t discuss specific allocation of resources at the meeting. The federal government has boosted funding for the Canada Border Services Agency, RCMP, Canada Revenue Agency and FINTRAC to strengthen the response to money laundering, he said.

Eby said he was “heartened” to hear Ontario’s request for funding and he hopes the province also moves forward with legislative reforms including creating a beneficial ownership registry.

— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press


Storytelling is in our DNA. We provide credible, compelling multimedia storytelling and services in English and French to help captivate your digital, broadcast and print audiences. As Canada’s national news agency for 100 years, we give Canadians an unbiased news source, driven by truth, accuracy and timeliness.

Follow Author

International

No national security issue in Chinese takeover of Canadian lithium company: Liberals

Published on

OTTAWA — The pending takeover of a Canadian lithium mining company by a Chinese state-owned company raises no national security concerns, federal Liberals argued Thursday.

Liberal MP Andy Fillmore, parliamentary secretary to Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, told a House of Commons committee that the Industry Department reviewed last fall the proposed takeover of Neo Lithium Corp. by China’s Zijin Mining Group Ltd.

That review concluded that Neo Lithium is “really not a Canadian company,” he told the industry committee, describing it as an Argentine company with directors in the United Kingdom and only three Canadian employees “on paper.”

He said the only reason Neo Lithium “had any Canadian toehold whatsoever,” was to get on the Toronto Stock Exchange in a bid to raise money for what Fillmore called an “increasingly dubious appearing” mine development project in Argentina.

Moreover, he said that project involves lithium carbonate, not the lithium hydroxide used to manufacture batteries that are critical for electric vehicles.

For those reasons, Fillmore said a formal national security review of the takeover was deemed unnecessary.

“These are the things they found, right? That in fact it’s not a relevant lithium to Canada’s national security interests and it’s not really a Canadian company.”

However, Conservative MP Ed Fast, who had called for the emergency committee meeting to find out why no formal security review was done, said it’s “just false” to say Neo Lithium is not a Canadian company.

And he noted that the company’s own website touts the mine as “the pre-eminent lithium brine asset in the world” to meet surging global demand for electric vehicle batteries.

“It goes without saying but bears restating that critical minerals such as lithium are a strategic asset, not only for Canada but for the world, and will play a critical role in driving our future prosperity and in meeting our environmental objectives,” Fast said.

While the mine in question is in Argentina, Fast argued that it is incumbent on Canada and other “free-trading, rules-following allies” to ensure the global critical minerals industry is not monopolized by one country, especially one whose interests “are sometimes hostile toward ours.”

China currently dominates the world’s supply of lithium and batteries.

Conservative MP Tracy Gray further argued that lithium carbonate can be converted into lithium hydroxide for use in batteries.

But Fillmore countered that the conversion process involves additional costs and “significant environmental implications,” which is why lithium hydroxide is preferred.

“I could probably make a passable hat using my socks but I’d much rather wear a hat,” he said.

Thursday’s meeting was called to consider a motion by Fast, calling for the committee to hold six meetings to explore the Neo Lithium takeover and whether a formal national security review should have been conducted.

In the end, committee members unanimously agreed to a Bloc Quebecois compromise to hold two meetings on the subject next week. The steering subcommittee, which is also to meet next week to set the committee’s agenda for the coming months, could decide to schedule more meetings on Neo Lithium.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2022.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Justice

CP NewsAlert: Man charged after four bodies found in Manitoba near border

Published on

WINNIPEG — A Florida man has been charged with human smuggling after the bodies of four people, including a baby and a teen, were found in Manitoba near the United States border.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota says Steve Shand, who is 47, appeared in court earlier today.

The bodies were found yesterday in Manitoba near the border community of Emerson.

Mounties say it’s believed they died from exposure while trying to cross the border into the U.S. from Canada.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the dead were a family of four Indian nationals who were separated from others in a group crossing the border.

More coming …

The Canadian Press


Continue Reading

Trending

X