The number is staggering. A report from former B.C. deputy attorney general Maureen Maloney says that $7.4 billion in dirty money was laundered in B.C. in 2018. That is seven times more than an estimate last year from an international agency that tracks money laundering.
We have learned already about the laundering through casinos and luxury cars, but on Friday, former deputy RCMP commissioner Peter German released his study of the role real estate plays in the business. The infusion of cash from illegal operations was so big, perhaps $5.3 billion last year, he estimates it pushed up house prices in the province by five per cent.
It has taken governments far too long to recognize the problem and begin to seek solutions. In the meantime, people have been dragging duffel bags of cash into casinos and car dealerships with impunity. That money, it turns out, is chump change compared with the billions that is washed through multimillion-dollar Vancouver homes.
The cash that is flowing into the B.C. laundromat is the proceeds of crime, including the drug epidemic that is killing people across the province. The casinos and car dealerships could have been in no doubt that the money was dirty.
As the new reports came down the pipe, regulatory agencies and professionals scrambled to change their policies. Tougher measures are no doubt on the way.
Those tougher rules should have been introduced years ago.