Canada Fails to Put Launderer Behind Bars

By Ben Hamill - February 14 2019

Canada Fails to Put Launderer Behind Bars

According to a recent Global News investigation, Canadian provinces are largely failing to convict money launderers. Reportedly, nearly 75% of those accused of the practice end up walking free – a concerning statistic, considering the nation’s long-time spate of laundering activity at local casinos.

Between 2000 and 2016, Canada recorded a total of 321 guilty verdicts in cases relating to laundering. However, according to Statistics Canada’s analysis of its data, around 809 more cases were either withdrawn, dismissed or stayed, resulting in a poor conviction rate of just 27% on average.

This is a significantly lower rate of conviction than most other crimes. To add perspective, around 63% of all adult criminal court cases were granted a ‘guilty’ verdict in 2017 alone. FINTRAC forensic accountant Matt McGuire has called the results of GN’s investigation “scandalous”, saying that it is very clear that the current system is not working as intended.

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Epidemic Hitting Every Province

The data has arisen amid growing demands for an inquiry into organized crime and money laundering in British Columbia, which has been estimated at over $2 billion per year in value. However, new numbers have unveiled a much more concerning problem: the laundering epidemic is affecting every Canadian province, not just BC.

McGuire, who is also the co-founder of Toronto’s AML Shop, says that Canada’s reputation for financial stability paired with investigators that are unwilling to prosecute for “complex financial crimes” have turned the country into a veritable paradise for criminals looking to launder their dirty cash. In his words, local criminals have moved away from physical violence and are now targeting balance sheets instead.

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CA Data is Hard to Come By

Both Britain and the USA have been much more successful when it comes to prosecuting these sorts of criminals. Between 1999 and 2007, 7,569 such money launderers were prosecuted in the UK, with around 50% of them being convicted. The US’s Department of Justice has also revealed that 727 people were prosecuted for the same crime in 2015, of which a hefty 85% (615) were convicted.

In Canada’s case, examining prosecution rates for laundering is a challenge. There are no governmental agencies currently collecting data from provincial and Superior courts on the matter, and cases in which a person was charged with laundering along with other crimes have not been made available either.

According to Victoria-based criminal defense lawyer Michael Mulligan, it’s hard to draw conclusions based on current info, but he is nonetheless surprised at the low rate of prosecutions in BC. Considering that the province has been the hardest hit by organized crime over the past few years, this is where policing is needed the most – but local police seem more eager to address assaults and thefts than complex financial fraud cases. As for when this status quo will change, one can only guess for now…

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