Cullen Commission Update

  • December 01, 2020

Report to the Membership on Professionals Week at the Cullen Commission 

The Cullen Commission resumed its hearings in October 2020, following the provincial election. The week of November 16-20 was reserved for testimony about legal professionals and the potential use of lawyers by money launderers to facilitate transactions. The Commissioner heard from a panel of the Law Society of British Columbia, the Executive Director of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, representatives for FINTRAC and Department of Finance [which oversee Canada’s anti-money laundering (AML) regime], and two professors from the United Kingdom who have researched this issue.

The witnesses and their reports were presented via live video feed throughout the week; concerns about the role of lawyers in money laundering by international AML raters and reviewers were discussed, as were the rules and regulations of the profession that have been developed and implemented to reduce risk of exposure to criminal activities. The international experts were unable to comment on the implementation or effectiveness of the rules in place for lawyers in British Columbia as it was outside of their scope of expertise. Much of the testimony centered on developing a risk-based approach for the profession to minimize risk of money laundering when facilitating transactions. Unlike the previous weeks of testimony that focused on the gaming industry in British Columbia, there was little to no media coverage of the week for legal professionals.

The hearings are scheduled to continue until May 2021, with final submissions set for the week of May 24. A review of the real estate industry is scheduled for the weeks of February 15 through March 12, 2021, when CBABC plans to actively participate and advocate on behalf of members. For more information, please contact Jo-Anne Stark, Director of Advocacy, at jstark@cbabc.org or visit the Cullen Commission website at www.cullencommission.ca.