B.C. Attorney General David Eby and former RCMP investigator Peter German deliver portions of report on money laundering at the B.C. legislature. (Black Press Media)

Hot cars hide dirty money, B.C. organized crime investigation shows

Buying and selling super-cars an international money laundering tactic

B.C.’s luxury car market is being used to launder the proceeds of crime, former RCMP officer Peter German says in his report to the B.C. government on money laundering.

High-end vehicles bought with cash or bank drafts are being bought and sold by “straw buyers” or nominees and exported offshore, German’s report says. The “grey market” activity shows up in B.C. sales tax records, where tax is paid and then large numbers of tax rebates are applied for and paid.

“This report is disturbing confirmation that money laundering in B.C. is a problem that goes beyond our casinos,” said B.C. Attorney General David Eby, who released parts of the investigation dealing with vehicles and horse racing Tuesday.

“In the luxury car market, there is no financial reporting of large cash purchases, no oversight of international bank wire transfers and no apparent investigation or enforcement. It’s all a recipe for exactly what happened here – Vancouver becoming North America’s luxury car capital, generally, and perhaps North America’s used luxury car export capital too.”

The cash purchase or sale of vehicles is legal, but if the source of the money can be traced to criminal activity it is a serious offence, German said.

Regulations are being changed in B.C. to remove the onus on prosecutors to prove that the source of money is criminal, requiring only that they demonstrate the use of money was “reckless,” Eby said.

READ MORE: RCMP has ‘no’ money laundering investigators in B.C.

READ MORE: Money laundering in B.C. casinos a ‘system failure’

The sales tax records show “straw buyers” buying multiple cars and selling them through the same exporters. “It was a surprise to us” to hear that grocery bags of cash were being brought into dealerships, German said.

Former Vancouver Police deputy chief Doug LePard helped in the investigation. He described car dealership staff accepting cash from buyers, and then helping them arrange for tax rebates.

Finance ministry staff report that they have seen a “dramatic increase” in rebate applications for vehicles destined for sale abroad. Before 2014, fewer than 100 vehicles received the rebate, and by 2016 the number of rebates had jumped to 3,674 vehicles.

In 2016 alone, a single “straw buyer” bought 29 vehicles, 48 buyers made between 11 and 29 purchases and 1,000 of these buyers were linked to the same exporter. Since 2013, the province has paid $85 million in rebates for exported vehicles.

Eby said buying and selling race horses has a long history of acting as a vehicle for converting and transporting cash. Activity at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver and Fraser Downs harness racing track in Surrey did not turn up evidence of suspicious transactions, he said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Canfor announces permanent closure of Isle Pierre Mill

The company also announced curtailments at their pulp mills in Prince George.

COVID-19 and returning to safe operation

WorkSafeBC recognizes the importance of worker safety as businesses look to resume… Continue reading

Local governments receiving provincial grants

Meant for infrastructure projects and planning

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read