Release of the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia
The Government of British Columbia recently released the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, also known as the Cullen Commission. For your information and review, a copy of the report titled Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia can be found at the following link: Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia.
Cullen noted that the Law Society [of British Columbia] already has several anti-money laundering regulations in place – they must keep a variety of records, reconcile their trust accounts every month, make annual reports, and undergo regular audits. “This oversight is crucial given that others, particularly law enforcement, cannot compel lawyers to produce privileged information or documents, “ he wrote. The trust accounting rules and audit process significantly mitigate the money laundering risks associated with trust accounts. However, given the potential for privilege to attach to trust account transactions, the Law Society should further limit what can enter a trust account to ensure that trust accounts are used only when truly necessary. After many years, public concerns have accumulated into what is to be, if implemented, a radical shift in how the government and industry tackle money laundering in the province. The impact of the Report will likely reach beyond British Columbia as the federal government and other provinces consider the Report’s recommendations.
Members are reminded of the importance of compliance with the Client Identification and Verification Rules and are encouraged to review the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing – Guidance for the Legal Profession that can be found at the following link.