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British Columbia Supreme Court Returns $2M From Collapsed Money Laundering Case

cash-collection-currency-47344-300x212The case against Silver International has been dropped by the British Columbia Supreme Court. The company, run by Caixuan Qin and her husband Jian Jun Zhu, was being prosecuted for money-laundering. This case is being lauded as the largest money-laundering case in BC history.

Known as Operation E-Pirate, this was the pinnacle of the RCMP investigation. It was focused on illegal banking networks that linked back to organized crime units, both national and international.  

The prosecution was seeking a seizure of $2 million, which was suspected to be laundered from the company’s high-profile casino. However, a Supreme Court judge denied this request, a consequence of a procedural error in the case. 

The error was discovered late last year, when confidential information regarding a police informant was breached. The information included the informant’s name and personal details. This breach occurred during evidence disclosure to the defense, a standard trial procedure.

Due to the breach, prosecutors decided not to proceed, worrying about putting the informant in danger. Despite the case being dropped, the British Columbia Civil Forfeiture office did not rescind its order to seize the $2M in cash. 

However, the case saw a new development last week. A Supreme Court judge found the seizure of the $2M to be unfair, claiming that the Civil Forfeiture Office did not have sound legal grounds to seize the money.

Consequently, the money will now go back to the suspects, Qin and Zhu.

The case against Silver International was given such importance because the entire operation allegedly laundered over a $1 billion per year. According to prosecutors, Silver International was a cover for Richmond, which is a branch of the British Columbia banking network.

Most of the money was laundered through British Columbia casinos. Silver International supposedly had ties to criminal gangs, including those from the South American drug trade and the fentanyl factories of China’s Guangdong Province. All transactions were with Chinese bank accounts. 

The money trail showed that the cash would be loaned to fake travelers on trips from Asia. These travelers would convert the money into chips and let it disappear into British Columbia casinos.

David Eby, the British Columbia attorney general, reports that BC casinos have become “laundromat[s] for organized crime.” He published an independent report last year stating there have been large increases in defiance of anti-money laundering controls. This has been largely due to a rise in bribes. 

Some evidence shows that previous government authorities in the province were lax on regulating and enforcing money-laundering laws. Evidence also showed that the foregoing government subdued voices and concerns against this anti-regulation.

Money-laundering has become a national problem over the last few years. Surveys have shown that three-quarters of the Canadian population believes money-laundering is a pressing issue. There has been a money-laundering epidemic in BC in particular, with about $7 billion laundered in casinos and real estate in 2018 alone. 

Money laundering has seen an increase even in the US, including in the states of Florida and California.

If you or anyone you know has experienced civil asset forfeiture, you should hire a lawyer. Contact us today to take the first step towards the best possible legal outcome for you.

Source: 9.19.19 BC Casino Asset Forfeiture

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