Canada, Corruption, Money Laundering: Far From a Squeaky Clean Great White North

Further to this post (note others near bottom),

British Columbia Launders Money Cleanest

just about our top journalist and a passionate polemicist who sure can tickle a keyboard (disclosure: good friend) has at our feckless governments–at the Ottawa Citizen:

Canada has a corruption problem, as Transparency International shows

Our score on the annual Corruption Perceptions Index has dropped again, to its lowest ever: 74 out of 100. And this ranking only scratches the surface.

Author of the article: Terry Glavin

Canada has come off badly again in Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index , with the country’s score falling faster than that of any other country in the 180-nation rankings released this week. Canada’s score has dropped to its lowest ever — 74 out of 100 — a slide that has cost Canada eight points over the past five years alone.

And the CPI only scratches the surface. It doesn’t measure “issues related to financial secrecy and money laundering,” Transparency International points out, “or the role of the private sector in allowing the corrupt to safely hide and enjoy proceeds of their crimes.”

It’s in those vices that Canada’s reputation has rightly taken a battering in recent years, from revelations about the billions of dollars in drug money laundered through casinos into Vancouver real estate, to nationwide bar association standards that allow lawyers to hide their clients’ shadowy sources of wealth.It’s no small matter that the CPI measures only public-sector types of corruption: bribery, diversion of public funds, nepotism in the civil service, bureaucrats abusing their authority for private gain, empty-promise whistleblower protection, useless conflict-of-interest laws and so on.

The capacity of government to detect money-laundering practices falls within the CPI’s purview, but one shudders to think what Canada’s score would be if the federal government allowed a degree of public scrutiny sufficient to effectively expose the rackets that move money into Canada on behalf of big-time gangsters, police-state apparatchiks, and oligarchs and kleptocrats from Belarus to Beijing [emphasis added].

Last year’s “ National Criminal Intelligence Estimate on the Canadian Criminal Marketplace ,” a report prepared by the federal Criminal Intelligence Service, reckoned the amount of dirty money finding its way into above-ground Canadian assets such as real estate every year at perhaps $133 billion [emphasis added].

TI’s annual index does a thorough enough job of assessing how well governments around the world enforce controls on the pillaging of public treasuries, TI Canada’s James Cohen told me this week. “But it’s not capturing who is passively allowing or is taking advantage of weak beneficial ownership laws,” Cohen said, referring to laws that would otherwise reveal the identities of individuals behind the shell companies and numbered companies that own so much Canadian real estate.

The federal government has promised a beneficial-ownership law, but it isn’t planned to come into effect for another three years. Quebec and British Columbia had been leading the way, at least in plans for a public registry, but B.C.’s registry, promised four years ago, has now been stalled for another year. Across Canada, ever since a 2015 Supreme Court ruling on solicitor-client privilege, lawyers have been free to withhold information from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (Fintrac) about their clients’ suspicious financial transactions. The judges more or less invited the government to fix the law to compel lawyers to report their clients’ dodgy dealings, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has declined to clean it up….the main prize is a properly searchable and publicly accessible beneficial-ownership registry, developed in coordination with the provinces.

That’s been promised. And as is so routinely the case with the Trudeau government’s promises, we are all still waiting for it to be fulfilled…

Snow-washing: the national, year round, Olympic white collar sport. How serious a country are we?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme video: perhaps the Canada we should be:

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