The money-laundering public inquiry rolls into Richmond on Thursday, with the biggest crowd of the series expected.
Two such public meetings have already been hosted, in Vancouver and Kelowna, with a relatively sparse attendance at each.
However, given that many of the headlines surrounding money-laundering in B.C. have originated in, or led to, Richmond, Thursday evening’s meeting at the Hilton Vancouver Airport could draw a larger audience.
The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering kicked off last month, with the public actively encouraged to go along and express what they feel are “issues of concern, and to identify areas that they would like the Commission to focus on or to include in the process.”
The commission’s senior counsel, Brock Martland, QC, told the Richmond News that the meetings thus far have “very good and very helpful to our process.”
“We have a very broad mandate in our terms of reference from the government and these meetings have been an excellent way to get to hear what matters to people in the context of money-laundering,” added Martland, who’s also a Vancouver-based criminal lawyer.
“We’ve heard about people’s perceptions that (the money-laundering is) connected to the real estate market and affordability.
“And there are worries about criminal connections in their communities.”
Martland said the information from the public is, of course, “not hard evidence,” with the evidence hearings taking place next year.
“We want to make sure the work we’re doing takes into account the input we’re receiving at these meetings.”
Thursday’s meeting goes from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Hilton’s Marsalis/Benson Room on Minoru Boulevard.
A Mandarin/Cantonese/English translator will be present for speakers requiring assistance.
The public inquiry was announced on May 15 this year by Premier John Horgan, although it’s independent of government.
It’s being led by Commissioner Austin Cullen and will look into the full scope of money laundering in the province, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions, and the corporate and professional sectors.
The Commission will also examine regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities. Cullen has the ability to compel witnesses and order the production of documents and records.
The Commission is required to deliver an interim report by Nov. 15, 2020 and a final report by May 2021. For more information, go online to CullenCommission.ca.