The B.C. inquiry into dirty money faces a serious hurdle — whether it is illicit cash inundating casinos or the housing market, no one really knows the volume, where it comes from, or how it flows.

After hearing investigators complain they were handcuffed in attempts to source and understand the currency flooding gaming, so real estate regulators and researchers told the commission they operate in a similar twilight zone.

“As noted in the presentation we were able to do on B.C., we don’t have very much data that would basically give any indication of the extent of money laundering in real estate,” said Bert Pereboom, senior manager of the housing market policy team at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. “So we can’t actually make an observation on its impact on B.C. We have no evidence of our own.”

He and other experts said there is little firm data on the extent of money laundering because it is largely hidden, and the schemes reportedly distorting the market are based on what happens elsewhere.

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At several points recently during online hearings of the Inquiry into Money Laundering, Vancouver lawyer Greg DelBigio was asked to gaze out a window.

While he cast his eyes elsewhere, inquiry staff displayed on screen for other participating lawyers documents not yet vetted and approved for public consumption.

Unlike the others, DelBigio was denied access because he represented alleged dirty money-supplier Paul Jin, “in the (commission’s) crosshairs” because of casino shenanigans dating back to 2012 when he was first barred.

DelBigio was trusted to not sneak a peak or snap a surreptitious screenshot.

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The attorney-general is supposed to be the least controversial of cabinet posts — a position demanding the disinterested mien of someone impervious to political winds or vested interests.

Tell that to David Eby, who has been among the most partisan and pugnacious of NDP ministers since his appointment in July 2017.

B.C.’s attorney-general is stirring the pot again — waving his fist at Penticton for heartless treatment of the homeless: How to win friends and influence people.

It’s nothing new. From the start, for such a tall man, he has been a surprisingly in-your-face minister, ignoring historic convention.

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Evidence at the inquiry into money laundering suggests that racial stereotypes may be driving and skewing the dirty money debate when a careful analysis does not support the concern.

Lawyer David Butcher hit that nerve in his cross-examination of Len Meilleur, a key bureaucrat for more than a decade and former executive director of compliance at the province’s gaming policy and enforcement branch.

“Would you agree that it is completely inappropriate to simply draw that link — money from China must be illegitimate?” Butcher asked.

Meilleur replied: “I don’t have a comment on that.”

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The Big Brother need for more surveillance, less privacy and a more robust apparatus to combat dirty money has become a major theme at B.C.’s inquiry into money laundering.

To serve and protect has become to surveil and predict, as one report put it, and no more so than among those battling money laundering.

No one so far, however, has presented credible evidence about whether the scope of the problem justifies the exorbitant cost for specialized software, training, analysts, investigators, enforcement, adjudication, or the heavy-handed trampling of privacy and other rights.

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