Large cash purchases, ‘lifestyle audits’ to fight money laundering gain support in B.C.

Angus Reid Institute found that a majority of Canadians support anti-money laundering initiatives

It appears that Canadians in every region of the country believe money laundering is a major problem in their province, according to a new survey, but many are indecisive on just how much action should be taken.

Sixty per cent of the 1,500 polled in an Angus Reid Institute survey, released Tuesday, said they support a nationwide ban on cash purchases over $10,000. Among B.C. respondents, 75 per cent supported the initiative.

Fifty-five per cent said they support lifestyle audits, where governments investigate individuals who “seem to be living far beyond their means: based on their income level and purchases. In B.C., that support increases to 62 per cent.

ALSO READ: RCMP says its stretched thin on B.C. money laundering

Revelations that an RCMP official charged with breaching a Canadian official secrets law was overseeing a Russian money-laundering probe are refocusing national attention on Canada’s role in international money laundering networks.

In B.C., an expert panel estimated in May that the amount of money laundered through the Canadian economy may approach $50 billion, with some experts suggesting that number is conservative.

Since the inquiry some recommendations have been put into action, including universities banning tuition payed fully in cash. The City of Vancouver also no longer accepts any types of cash payments above $10,000.

READ MORE: B.C. estimates $7 billion laundered in 2018, $5 billion in real estate

More than 70 per cent of residents outside of B.C. say their own province should also complete an inquiry of its own.

The federal election campaign has not yet put a focus on anti-money laundering initiatives, but the survey shows a considerable appetite for whichever party is elected in October to pursue the matter more.

The 2019 federal budget proposed several anti-money laundering initiatives, with investments of approximately $200 million over five years as well as additional funding. However, nearly half of those surveyed said they’re dissatisfied with federal government efforts.

One initiative, to get rid of the $50 and $100 bill, remains firmed opposed, despite some experts suggesting that discontinuing large bills would hamper money laundering operations. In B.C., 15 per cent of respondents said the $100 bill should be discontinued, while four per cent supported nixing the $50 bill.


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ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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