Lawyers Say They Should Be Banned From Money Laundering Policies In BC

Kevin Westell said that the recommendations emerging from the money laundering investigation could significantly affect the way attorneys do their jobs.

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Two groups representing lawyers say their profession should be excluded from any government regulation aimed at combating money laundering in British Columbia to protect the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship.

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Kevin Westell made closing joint presentations today in a public money laundering investigation on behalf of the British Columbia chapter of the Canadian Bar Association and the Criminal Defense Defense Society.

He says the bar association representing 7,000 lawyers in the province is also concerned by suggestions that there is a high risk of money laundering inherent in the work of lawyers.

The province launched the investigation after reports described a money laundering crisis fueled by millions of dollars in illegal cash being funneled through the real estate, luxury car and gambling sectors in BC.

Westell told Investigative Commissioner Austin Cullen that his final recommendations could significantly affect the way attorneys do their jobs and the extent to which members of the public will continue to trust that their relationships with attorneys will remain strictly confidential.

However, a coalition that includes the group Transparency International Canada told Cullen that lawyers, bankers and accountants should be included in any policy to allow public scrutiny of how criminal companies involved in money laundering might seek the advice of those professionals.

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