Online games could be source of money laundering, B.C. public inquiry hears

Online games could be source of money laundering, B.C. public inquiry hears

Online games could be source of money laundering, B.C. public inquiry hears

VANCOUVER — A public inquiry into money laundering in British Columbia has heard that cash is still king but cryptocurrencies and other virtual trade could rise as a trend.

Criminology professor Stephen Schneider of St. Mary’s University in Halifax says games and other online platforms with many players are creating their own forms of currency with real value attached.

He says in games like “Second Life,” the currency can be used to purchase virtual products or advance to the next level, but he warns that it can also be used to launder the proceeds of criminal activity.

At the same time, Schneider says that while there have been a small number of cases of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin being used in the drug trade, cash remains the preferred payment.

He says smaller denominations of $20 and $50 bills are most common, even in very large transactions.

Schneider is the first expert witness to give testimony before commissioner Austin Cullen in the portion of the public inquiry that will get an overview of money laundering and regulatory models over the next 3 1/2 weeks.

“It’s not unusual to have multi-kilos of cocaine or marijuana being purchased with stacks of $20 bills,” Schneider says.

Criminal entrepreneurs, drug traffickers and organized crime have developed money laundering as a “tactical imperative” to avoid suspicion, he says.

“In order to enjoy the fruits of their labour they need to be able to take that cash and try to convert it into more of an asset that’s less suspicious all the while trying to hide the illegal source.”

The inquiry heard opening arguments in February and will focus on specific industries at hearings beginning in September.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

skip2
Rimbey Christian School students experience the joy of giving

Grades three and four students raised $2,000 for Somalian children

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Bids for Kids poster
Wolf Creek Youth Foundation online auction gets ‘overwhelming’ response

Santa’s Bids for Kids auction to benefit youth programs in Rimbey, Ponoka

The Red Deer Games Foundation has made changes to its grant program as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo supplied)
Red Deer Games Foundation adjusts grant program due to COVID-19 pandemic

The foundation postponed the spring 2020 grant program due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

skip2
Rimbey Christian School students experience the joy of giving

Grades three and four students raised $2,000 for Somalian children

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council asks for a mask bylaw to be brought forward for consideration

The bylaw would require face coverings in all indoor Town-owned and operated facilities

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

Most Read