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)

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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Sooke school district has filled all spots for their French immersion and nature kinderagarten programs in 2021-2022 school year. Regular kindergarten registration is still open and available. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke school district gets surplus of nature, French immersion kindergarten applications

Not enough room for almost half of nature kindergarten applicants

Greater Victoria’s Coldest Night walks go virtual this year on Feb. 20. (Photo courtesy Our Place Society)
Our Place neighbourhood walks raise money for Greater Victoria homeless

2021 Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser goes virtual

Members of the Saanich Fire Department can be seen working to put out a fire in the 4500-block of Chattertown Way on Jan. 26. (Saanich Fire/Twitter)
UPDATED: One cat killed, another resuscitated following blaze in Saanich townhouse

Neighbours evacuated following fire on Chatterton Way, third cat still missing

(Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay fire reach ‘modern’ service agreement

Negotiations to update 1980 firefighting agreement began in 2015, stalled in 2020

Air Canada /Jazz flight 8081 from Vancouver to Victoria on Jan. 22 had a confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Cowichan Tribes chief Squtxulenhuw (William Seymour) confirmed the first death in the First Nations community from COVID-19. (File photo)
Cowichan Tribes confirms first death from COVID-19

Shelter-in-place order has been extended to Feb. 5

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
5 big lessons experts say Canada should learn from COVID-19

‘What should be done to reduce the harms the next time a virus arises?’ Disease control experts answer

A Vancouver Police Department patch is seen on an officer’s uniform as she makes a phone call. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver man calls 911 to report his own stabbing, leading to arrest: police

Officers located the suspect a few blocks away. He was holding a bloody knife.

Christopher Anthony Craig Dick is wanted by the Port Alberni RCMP in connection to multiple investigations. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Vancouver Island RCMP seek man connected to assault investigations

Christopher Dick, 36, was recently in the North Cowichan and Duncan region

Vernon has agreed to a goose cull to control the over-populated invasive species making a muck of area parks and beaches. (Morning Star file photo)
Okanagan city pulls the trigger on goose cull

City asking neighbours to also help control over-population of geese

Tahsis mayor Martin Davis stands with an old-growth tree in McKelvie Creek Valley. The village of Tahsis signed a Letter of Understanding with forestry company Western Forest Products to establish McKelvie watershed as a protected area. Photo courtesy, TJ Watt.
Landmark deal expected to protect Tahsis watershed from logging

Tahsis and WFP agree on letter of understanding to preserve McKelvie Creek Valley within TFL 19

Most Read