What began as an effort to attempt to seize $2 million from suspects by British Columbia (BC) during a high-profile money-laundering investigation has since been denied by the Supreme Court.
The suspects in question were accused of running an underground bank with links to crime at an international level. However, there has been a major set-back as the case against the suspects has collapsed due to a procedural error.
The case in question was against Caixuan Qin, husband Jian Jun Zhu, and Silver International, their company. This case was billed as BC’s largest money-laundering prosecution to date. This is the result of Operation E-Pirate, a giant RCMP investigation that had in their sights a wide and interconnected underground banking network that had links to international organized crime.
This all sounds great and it was going the way that everyone has worked out, however, the case collapsed during late last year because of an error in procedure. What had occurred during a typical evidence disclosure to the defendants’ lawyer was the revealing of the name and identification of a secret informant that the police had used during the operation to obtain secret information. Due to the disclosure of this secret informant, it was decided that continuing with the case would endanger the informant and place them at serious risk and even “high risk of death”.
Once the case officially collapsed, the judge found that the Civil Forfeiture Office failed to bring forth a fair and legal argument. This is why the ruling that the assets will be returned to the accused Qin and Zhu was inevitable.
The company of the accused, Silver International, allegedly operated as a front for the Richmond, BC branch of the banking network, the operation of this front supposedly managed to launder as much as $1 billion year after year during their years in operation. This was achieved through the province’s casinos.
The prosecutors of the case have made a claim that Silver International received funds from criminals within gangs that have links to the South American drug trade, as well as, the fentanyl factories of China’s Guangdong Province. The company was repaid by means of transactions that were made into Chinese bank accounts.
Thereafter, the cash was lent to high rollers that were on junket trips from Asia. They would then convert the cash into chips and sink it into the BC casino industry so that is seemed to disappear.
BC attorney general David Eby commissioned and published an independent report in 2018 that reached the conclusion that the province’s casinos have become a “Laundromat for organised crime”. The report revealed that the accused and all those linked had adopted a culture where large volumes of cash were accepted which was against anti-money laundering controls.
To put things more into focus, this report revealed that the previous provincial government either suppressed or merely ignored concerns that regulators and law enforcement raised regarding any suspicious activities that garnered their attention.
In other related news, an Angus Reid poll that was published recently discovered that three-quarters of Canadian citizens are of the belief that money laundering is an issue in their district, and 81% of Canadians believe that their country of Canada needs to try harder to tackle money laundering on a national level.
A panel assembled by the BC this year came together to look further into the practice of money laundering and how it has become an epidemic in the district’s casinos particularly, as well as, within real estate markets. The panel reached a conclusion that around $7 billion has been laundered through BC during the course of the year 2018. This was suggested to be only the surface layer of the true crime beneath.
This panel also believes that $47 billion might have made its way through the entire country during the same period and that Ontario and Alberta could have a potentially bigger problem than BC.
The federal minister for organised crime reduction Bill Blair said in May that a nationwide investigation was not necessary and that it was already being treated as a priority across the nation.