The maximum penalty for money laundering in Canada is a 10-year jail sentence. If the matter is dealt with as a summary offence, the maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine and/or a six-month jail sentence.
Money laundering and the law
Money laundering is when money obtained by illegal means is processed so that it appears to come from a legitimate source. For example, someone may make money from drug trafficking. Rather than take this money to the bank, which could arouse suspicion, it could be spent at a casino instead. That way, the winnings appear to have been legitimately gained. Alternatively, the money could be put into property or a lawful business.
The laws that deal with money laundering are set by the federal government. To be found guilty of money laundering, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were laundering money gained by illegal means, with the intention of turning them into legitimate assets. You could also be found guilty if you move money on behalf of another person or organisation, despite knowing that it could be money laundering.
Money laundering penalties
In Canada, you can either be charged with a summary offence or an indictable offence. Summary offences are less serious than indictable offences. The Crown Counsel decides whether your case should be pursued on a summary basis or an indictable basis. This can have a major bearing on your case. In particular, it determines the maximum penalty that can be handled down.
If you are found guilty of money laundering and the offence proceeds summarily, the maximum penalty you can receive is a fine of CAD$5,000, six months in prison, or both. If you are found guilty of money laundering and it is dealt with as an indictable offence, the maximum sentence you can receive is 10 years in prison. It will be up to the courts to decide whether to hand out the maximum sentence.
Clamp down on money laundering
The laws surrounding money laundering have been under scrutiny. This is thanks to reports published in May that alleged $7.4 billion was laundered through British Columbia in 2018. The report also said that $5 billion of this money went through BC’s real estate market. Recommendations were proposed to clamp down on money laundering, some of which are set to be implemented in the fall.
The new policies could result in an increase in money laundering prosecutions. If you are accused of money laundering, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice. Money laundering is a serious offence and the potential penalties are high. As Vancouver criminal lawyers, we can represent you throughout criminal proceedings, working to limit the impact of the allegations.