FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Vancouver, BC (Unceded Coast Salish Territories) The BCCLA is disappointed by the Final Report of the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, which was released yesterday. The Final Report recommends invasive measures and a tough-on-crime approach that does not give due consideration to constitutional rights. The BCCLA was the only civil liberties organization granted full participant status in the Cullen Commission, where it advocated for human rights, privacy protections and due process during public hearings from February 2020 to October 2022.
The Final Report calls for sweeping changes to tackle money laundering in the province, including the introduction of unexplained wealth orders, the aggressive pursuit of civil forfeiture, increased policing, and broad information collection and sharing. Throughout the hearings, the BCCLA spoke out against taking this approach, arguing that these invasive measures undermine constitutional rights, have not been adequately tested, and would be expensive to implement. The BCCLA advocated instead for addressing the root causes of money laundering, including our failed model of drug prohibition.
Jessica Magonet, BCCLA staff counsel: “We are extremely troubled that the Cullen Commission is encouraging the province to ramp up civil forfeiture to fight money laundering. BC’s civil forfeiture regime grants extraordinary power to the state, impacts Charter rights, and harms marginalized communities. We are also disturbed that the Cullen Commission is calling for the introduction of unexplained wealth orders – a controversial legal tool that erodes the presumption of innocence.”
Stephen Chin, BCCLA staff counsel: “We recognize that money laundering is a problem that requires commensurate solutions informed by the principles of balance and restraint. These recommendations, viewed cumulatively, cannot be reconciled with these principles and threaten our constitutional rights. When the Commission calls for substantial expansions to enforcement measures and information sharing, this is cause for concern.”
The BCCLA was represented in the Cullen Commission by Megan Tweedie, Jessica Magonet and Stephen Chin.