WINNIPEG — A new report from the B.C. government estimates more than $43 billion is laundered in Canada every year, over $3 billion of which is laundered right in Manitoba.
The laundered money can affect everything from crime rates to housing prices.
Sel Burrows is the coordinator of Point Powerline, in Point Douglas. It’s a community activist group that focuses on crime, and Burrows’ latest target is money laundering.
“It’s what allows the drugs to be sold,” said Burrows. “It encourages the drugs to be sold. Drugs is what is driving the high crime rate in our community.”
Kevin Comeau is a corporate lawyer who wrote, ‘Why We Fail to Catch Money Launderers 99.9 per cent of the Time’ and he said money laundering happens when criminal organizations find a way to funnel illegal money into a business to make it seem legitimate. He said it’s a crime that’s extremely hard to stop.
Comeau explained money laundering can lead RCMP investigators down a rabbit hole around the globe, but it can also have real consequences close to home.
Big-ticket items can be purchased with laundered money and then sold for legitimate cash.
“It’s a false market because they can buy a house and push the price up, even if they sell it a bit of a loss,” said Burrows.
Rising real estate prices due to money laundering creates a housing market where many people can’t afford homes. This is a major issue for metropolitan cities, but not as much for Winnipeg.
“Here there’s always a ceiling on prices. You know people aren’t just going to overpay on a property,” said Catherine Schellenberg, president of Winnipeg Realtors.
Burrows said he is more concerned with money laundering funding crime than he is about rising real estate prices, but either way, he notes the issue falls on everyone in the community, specifically business owners.
“The business community has a responsibility to intervene and ensure money laundering is controlled, if not eliminated,” said Burrows.
Comeau said Canada has some of the weakest laws in the western world when it comes to stopping money laundering.
The federal government said in a statement to CTV News that it is working on creating a registry where business owners will have to give their names when making transactions, effectively taking away the criminal’s anonymity.
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