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.

Just Posted

City Dream Centres hands out 1,000 backpacks at back to school event in Surrey

This is the fifth year the charity is hosting the event in the city

Securing Olympic spot the latest test for Canadian softball squad at Surrey tournament

Softball hasn’t been included in the Games since 2008 when Canada finished fourth in Beijing

UPDATE: Two men injured in north Surrey shooting

Police say the incident was targeted, may be linked to drug activity

White Rock RCMP seeking information about Aug. 16 assault

Man in 60s was injured around same time Paul Prestbakmo was stabbed to death

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Border crossings across Lower Mainland seeing lengthy delays

Sumas, Peace Arch and Surrey-Blaine border crossings seeing long wait times

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Most Read