The B.C. government has introduced legislation that will expand the use of the Civil Forfeiture Act to go after proceeds of laundered money in the province.
Among the amendments to the act are the creation of unexplained wealth orders, which the province says will require people to explain how they acquired assets if investigators believe there is the possibility of unlawful activity.
The amendments will also allow the Civil Forfeiture Office to look for property hidden in the names of trustees of a trust.
“Money-laundering schemes have become increasingly sophisticated, and unexplained wealth orders will be a key tool in our toolbox to combat organized crime,” said Solicitor General Mike Farnworth in a statement.
“By exposing property for forfeiture actions, we are removing this incentive and sending a clear message to anyone involved in organized crime that crime doesn’t pay.”
Confiscating unexplained wealth was one of the recommendations in the Cullen Report, which estimated that billions of dollars worth of illicit funds have poured into the province, especially in casinos and real estate.
Civil forfeiture has existed in B.C. since 2006, allowing the province to confiscate people’s property without any criminal charges attached.
Premier David Eby announced the expansion of the program to include unexplained wealth orders earlier this year, but civil libertarians have objected, arguing they undermine the presumption of innocence and place an onus of proof on the target of the seizure order.
More to come.