Stephen Schneider told the Cullen Money Laundering Commission of Inquiry that this system of illegal money laundering from China and proceeds from drug trafficking is exceptional.
“I have never seen such an important operation … which is so geographically limited,” said Schneider, professor of criminology at St. Mary’s University in Halifax.
“We have never seen anything like this in Canada, and you will probably not see anything like it any time soon. “
As Schneider explained, the Vancouver model involves large amounts of money leaving China through informal value transfer systems to avoid the limits imposed by China on the outflow of money from the country. Once in Canada, these funds are mixed with money from the drug trade, and then the money is cleaned up through British Columbia. casinos and private mortgages.
“The Vancouver model was very unique,” said Schneider. “So many different techniques were merged. “
Cullen Commission, led by BC Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen was announced last year in response to a series of reports that have attempted to capture the alarming magnitude of the problem in British Columbia, including estimates according to which more than $ 7 billion was laundered in the province in 2018.
The role of the commission is to determine where and how money laundering takes place, why it has been authorized and whether it can be avoided. The commission does not have the power to condemn or find responsibility, but should make recommendations in a final report.
On Tuesday, the second day of his testimony, Schneider spoke at length about the Vancouver model, saying it depended on the facilitation of professional money launderers.
These professional groups reportedly included Richmond International company, Richmond International, at the center of a large-scale money laundering investigation that collapsed in 2018. The company and two directors were prosecuted, but charges were laid. was subsequently suspended.
“You wouldn’t have the Vancouver model without Silver International and their directors,” said Schneider.
Takeover of the casino company
In his testimony, Schneider described casinos as being at the heart of the Vancouver money laundering model, describing how, in many cases, cash is turned into casino chips and then redeemed for a check.
But his testimony on the prevalence of money laundering in British Columbia. The casinos were criticized during cross-examination by Mark Skwarok, a lawyer for the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which operates many major casinos, including the River Rock in Richmond.
Skwarok noted that Schneider drew heavily on the media for his research on money laundering in British Columbia.
As Schneider recognized, there is a lack of academic research on the issue in this province, and therefore his literature review has included many investigative reports from media such as Postmedia, The Globe and Mail and CBC News. .
Skwarok suggested that reporting is subject to certain “weaknesses”, including the fact that journalists are generally not academics and that press articles are not peer-reviewed.
“I would say that the newspaper articles are proof of nothing other than the opinion of the journalist. Do you agree with that? ” He asked.
Schneider laughed in response and said he would not agree. He said that even if it were true, reports can sometimes be false, just like academic articles.
“I don’t think we have to commit to bashing the media,” Schneider told Skwarok at one point.
Skwarok also suggested that Great Canadian had specific policies designed to prevent some of the activities reported in its casinos.
Schneider said he had no direct knowledge of the casino company’s application of its policies, but “just because you have a policy doesn’t mean it will wipe out a particular money laundering activity.” “
Schneider continues its cross-examination on Wednesday. He is the first in a series of expert witnesses to speak to the commission over the next three weeks to provide an overview of the subject of money laundering and the different regulatory models.