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

In 2019, roughly one person died every three days in Surrey due to illicit drug overdoses

123 people died in the city in 2019, down from the previous year

BC Liberals firing at NDP due to fact new Surrey hospital not in budget

But Surrey-Panorama MLA Jinny Sims says business case is needed first

United Nations designates Surrey a ‘Tree City’

Surrey is one of 59 cities in the world to receive the designation

White Rock seeks assistance for park rain damage

City applies for provincial funding following closure of Ruth Johnson Park and ravine

Surrey RCMP looking for missing boy, age 14

Brayden Ritchat, 14, last seen in the 10800-block of 141st Street in Whalley on Feb. 21

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

B.C. landlord can’t serve eviction notice because tenant is in jail

Homeowner baffled at arbitrator decision based on notice of hearing not being served properly

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Two B.C. men plead guilty to bus-terminal assault of man with autism in Ontario

Parmvir Chahil and Jaspaul Uppal due to be sentenced in June for aggravated assault

Most Read