Canada: Hub for Transnational Criminals

Vancouver, Canada

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Vancouver, Canada is latest money laundering hub for transnational criminals, experts say

TRANSNATIONAL criminal organizations looking to “wash” ill-gotten gains in Vancouver, Canada, is a problem that’s not going away, says Kim Marsh, a Vancouver-based financial crime specialist with decades of experience in both law enforcement and private investigations.

Vancouver is “emerging as a critical money laundering hub” for international criminals, due to a convergence of factors including drug money, international connections, an active port, and a hot real estate market, experts say.

Marsh is billed to make a presentation to a group of anti-money laundering professionals, detailing his role in a complex 2013 investigation that came to be known as “the Libyan Caper,” a story illustrating the global nature and massive scope of money laundering.

In Vancouver, one can’t look at money laundering without considering property investment, Marsh said. And a more active market means more opportunity for funds to be washed.

“What’s happening here in the real estate market is pretty remarkable,” said Marsh, who now works for a private fraud protection firm after 25 years with the RCMP. He mentioned an “increase in value of property across the board” and “non-stop residential building.”

“Part of that is the success story of Vancouver. But there’s a lot of dirty money washing around with these purchases,” said Marsh, now executive vice-president of international operations for IPSA International.

It’s a growing concern for Vancouver, said Christine Duhaime, a Vancouver lawyer and financial crime specialist.

“There is more of a money laundering problem now and part of that is because law enforcement agencies say Vancouver is emerging as a critical money laundering hub for transnational criminal organizations,” Duhaime said.

Duhaime also said Vancouver’s thriving real estate market is a key factor, and added that some dirty money in Vancouver is brought in from overseas, whether from corrupt foreign officials, weapons trafficking or other means, and some is locally generated, often from the illicit drug market.

“Based on reports by the United States Department of State, Canada is a major money laundering country, and in particular, British Columbia is of concern, because it is a major producer globally of ecstasy and marijuana,” she said.

Duhaime is co-chair of the Western Canada branch of the Association of Certified Anti-Money-Laundering Specialists, or ACAMS.

The Vancouver chapter of ACAMS will host an event at the Vancouver Club, where Marsh will tell the story of “the Libyan Caper,” and how he came to be involved in an international operation targeting tens of millions in U.S. bills, smuggled out of Libya and sitting in shipping containers in a warehouse in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

*Culled from Political Economist

— May 11, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT


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