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Earlier this week, Environment Minister Peter Kent suggested some environmental advocacy groups had “laundered” foreign funds. Yesterday in QP, he was confronted about this allegation and responded as follows.

Hoang Mai: Mr. Speaker, it is important to take money laundering seriously. However, the Minister of the Environment’s accusations against environmental groups are insulting. This is an unsubstantiated attack against groups that have the support of millions of Canadians. Accusing environmentalists of laundering money is simply a political vendetta. Revenue Canada is cutting its budget for the investigation of tax fraud but is going to spend more on attacking environmental groups. Will the minister do the right thing and apologize?

Peter Kent: Mr. Speaker, the NDP members abandoned decorum and civility a couple of days ago. Now they have lost their sense of humour. The opposition members can whinge all they want but the fact of the matter is some charitable organizations have allegedly used funds from outside this country inappropriately in regard to their charitable status. They can call it money laundering, they can call it a financial shell game or they could call it three card monte.

Courtesy of the website for Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), here is a definition of money laundering.

The United Nations defines money laundering as “any act or attempted act to disguise the source of money or assets derived from criminal activity.” Essentially, money laundering is the process whereby “dirty money”— produced through criminal activity— is transformed into “clean money,” the criminal origin of which is difficult to trace…

Under Canadian law, a money laundering offence involves various acts committed with the intention to conceal or convert property or the proceeds of property (such as money) knowing or believing that these were derived from the commission of a designated offence. In this context, a designated offence means most serious offences under theCriminal Code or any other federal Act. It includes, but is not limited to those relating to illegal drug trafficking, bribery, fraud, forgery, murder, robbery, counterfeit money, stock manipulation, tax evasion and copyright infringement.

A money laundering offence may also extend to property or proceeds derived from illegal activities that took place outside Canada.