Signs of B.C.’s crippling weaknesses to money laundering via its real estate, casino, and banking sectors were already apparent to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) as far back as 2014, according to research conducted by The Globe and Mail.
The publication found that a comprehensive report on the market’s significant vulnerabilities was never completed as the unnamed FINTRAC employee who authored the study was reassigned to work on what the agency deemed “higher priority files.”
Even in its unfinished state, the 154-page draft analysis already offered a sober assessment that uncovered lax compliance to reporting rules aimed at rooting out suspicious activity in the real estate and casino segments.
B.C. Attorney-General David Eby expressed his ire at the fact that the report ended up in limbo. He stated that such an analysis would’ve helped convince the federal leadership and the previous provincial government to act decisively against malignant foreign influences.
“It’s really frustrating to know that a report was prepared but not finished on exactly those issues, because I believe that had it gone forward, we might not have been in the position we are in today,” Eby told The Globe and Mail.
“It’s another example of what appears, to me, to be a number of people inside various watchdogs and regulators who have identified concerns and, for one reason or another, those concerns have not made it out to the public or perhaps even up to the political level.”
Read more: B.C. money laundering issue intimately tied to the fentanyl crisis
The heavily redacted FINTRAC report – which was classified at the “Protected B” security level, meaning that it could “cause serious injury to an individual, organization or government” should it get publicized – was only recently provided to Ottawa-based researcher Ken Rubin, who fought for the document’s release since May 2016.
“Unfortunately, work on the piece was not re-initiated and the document, which remained in draft form, was never reviewed or validated for accuracy, including proper identifications and references of the sources used,” according to the Access to Information response letter sent to Rubin.
FINTRAC has declined to comment, informing The Globe and Mail via email that the details indicated in the report were “gathered by an employee for his own awareness of the known money laundering risks in Canada based on open source material and was not intended to be published.”