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Unexplained Wealth Order, a law making it easier for government to seize individual’s property without a criminal conviction

David Eby was excited to announce the new legislation he will be bringing to the BC Legislature this coming spring to apparently crackdown on “criminals”.

Innocent until proven guilty or guilty until you prove your innocence?

Eby has promised to introduce legislation to the legislature in the spring that he says is supposed to target organized crime groups and money laundering by removing the profit incentive for organized crime.

The Cullen Commission on Money Laundering in British Columbia, which released its findings this summer, and a 2019 study on Money Laundering in Real Estate, both suggested the unexplained wealth order as a tool.

The province can already seize assets thought to be the proceeds of crime through a number of different legal procedures. A person is normally found guilty of a crime under criminal forfeiture after being proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Without a charge or conviction, the state may confiscate property if the director of civil forfeiture establishes that it is more likely than not the product of illegal activity.

The new legislation will allow the government to sidestep the requirement of a charge or conviction and seize property from people not related to any type of crime if it is presumed that person cannot afford to purchase that asset with their income. The person then has to prove where they got the money to purchase the property before they can get it back.

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), of which Eby was head before going into politics, opposes unexplained wealth orders.

The BCCLA stated that it is opposed to the Cullen commission’s proposed tough-on-crime approach to money laundering, which includes the implementation of unexplained wealth orders, aggressive pursuit of civil forfeiture, increased policing, and broad information collection and sharing. “These invasive measures undermine constitutional rights, have not been adequately tested, and would be expensive to implement,” wrote the BCCLA’s Stephen Chin and Jessica Magonet.

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Jordan is a casual reporter for BC Rise


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