Editor’s note: Mr. Yuan, through legal counsel, states: “Mr. Yuan has no connection to the alleged money laundering or drug transactions. He is aware of no RCMP investigation into his actions, let alone one that he is identified as a top suspect in an RCMP probe of a Chinese drug-importation cartel.”
Global News has learned the RCMP opened a file on B.C. Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido after confidential police informants alleged the veteran politician had been knowingly associating with Chinese organized crime figures through his former real estate law practice in Richmond, B.C.
Global News learned of these allegations while investigating whether Peschisolido’s law firm was involved in secretive B.C. real estate development deals that involved an alleged Chinese “drug boss” in one case, and also a construction tycoon from China alleged to have been involved in a “transnational money laundering” probe in B.C. Lottery Corp. casinos.
These transactions at Peschisolido’s law firm involved so-called “bare trusts” — a controversial service that is legal, but has harmed B.C.’s housing market because the trusts can allow money launderers to anonymously invest in real estate assets, according to critics including B.C.’s Attorney General David Eby.
Peschisolido has acknowledged that lawyers at his former law firm — which was taken over to be wound down by the B.C. Law Society this year — did complete bare trust deals. However Peschisolido has insisted these lawyers were independent contractors and that he never oversaw or personally completed any bare trust real estate deals.
Peschisolido also said in an interview with Global News that he does not know the alleged Chinese “drug boss” or the Chinese construction tycoon that were involved in bare trust transactions as clients of his former law firm, according to legal filings.
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Last week Peschisolido met with Global News at his constituency office in Richmond for an extensive interview regarding the alleged RCMP file, and also to answer questions about a number of photographs that document Peschisolido’s repeated encounters in 2018 with primary suspects in Canada’s largest ever money-laundering investigation, the RCMP’s so-called E-Pirate probe.
The RCMP would not confirm or deny information regarding the force’s file on Peschisolido, that Global News learned from sources with knowledge of the E-Pirate probe.
A source said that during the E-Pirate probe, which was started in 2015, the RCMP “was hearing” Peschisolido was “affiliated” with — and involved in “structuring” investment deals for — some of his law firm’s clients that “he knew” were associated to Asian organized crime.
“Generally, only in the event that an investigation results in the laying of criminal charges, would the RCMP confirm its investigation, the nature of any charges laid and the identity of the individual (s) involved,” RCMP Staff-Sgt. Tania Vaughan said, in response to a question about the force’s alleged Peschisolido file.
No charges have been laid against Peschisolido or lawyers at his firm.
“No one has contacted me at all, ever, for what you have just talked about,” Peschisolido said in an interview, about the alleged RCMP file.
Peschisolido said he ran his law firm for nine years and there were a number of lawyers, but they all worked independently of each other. And Peschisolido repeated that he had no involvement in or oversight of other lawyers’ files, including some of the bare trust deals identified by Global News.
“We have a variety of lawyers, and lawyers did a variety of things,” he said. “I did conveyances in real estate. I never structured, or was involved in any bare trust files. I never oversaw or had any involvement in structuring any business deals. That wasn’t the type of practice that I had.”
Pictures with E-Pirate suspects
In the interview, Peschisolido responded to questions about photographs that show him repeatedly meeting with primary targets of the RCMP’s E-Pirate probe in the fall of 2018, that are alleged by the RCMP according to documents and sources to be suspects in a transnational cartel involved in drug-trafficking and money laundering, as well as weapons trafficking, gambling junkets, and hunting junkets to B.C., and internationally.
One of the primary targets, a man named Paul King Jin, is linked in B.C. government and civil forfeiture documents to allegations of “transnational money laundering” in B.C. Lottery casinos, and also allegedly running illegal casinos in Richmond, B.C.
However, according to an RCMP document obtained by Global News, Jin is not the top suspect in the alleged Chinese cartel investigations.
Above him are industrialists with businesses in China, including a man who is identified in Chinese state documents as a former People’s Liberation Army hero, named Rongxiang Yuan.
Yuan has been connected to many suspicious transactions in Canada according to Fintrac and RCMP and B.C. Lottery Corp. documents, sources informed Global News. However, aside from being identified as a top suspect in the RCMP’s probe of a cartel linked to China, documents do not outline specific allegations against Yuan.
Neither Jin nor Yuan have been charged in the E-Pirate probe or related investigations. Global News could not reach Jin or Yuan for an interview.
Jin has a criminal record, according to B.C. Civil Forfeiture filings, “with convictions for aggravated assault, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation.”
WATCH: Photographs show MP endorsed China-Canada sporting event in Richmond sponsored by top suspects in RCMP money laundering probe
In September 2018, photographs show Peschisolido standing with and shaking Yuan’s hand at a China-Canada boxing event held at a gym in Richmond, that is run by Jin and connected to Yuan, and a number of directors in Beijing, according to B.C. corporate documents.
The event was sponsored by a China-Canada relations association directed by Yuan, corporate documents show, and a number of other men that are named as investigation suspects in RCMP documents.
Corporate documents also show that this Richmond boxing gym and its directors are linked to alleged illegal casino locations run by Jin in Richmond, according to allegations in B.C. civil forfeiture documents filed in 2018.
Peschisolido said that he did not recall meeting Yuan at the September 2018 China-Canada boxing event, and that he does not know Yuan and Jin. He also said he would have had no way to know the information discovered by Global News, that these men and the boxing gym are corporately linked to alleged illegal casino operations in Richmond.
“I don’t recall doing that (shaking hands and promoting a boxing event with Yuan). If you say I did, I was there. I go to so many events, and take photos with everybody. That is what a member of Parliament does,” Peschisolido said.
“I wouldn’t have any idea of what the corporate structure of these organizations is. There is so many organizations that I get invited to, and I go. I wouldn’t have known, what you just outlined to me.”
There was another event in October 2018, photographs show, in which Peschisolido attended the opening of a members-only Vancouver club that purports to promote Mainland China culture. Online Chinese-language media reports show Peschisolido seated beside Rongxiang Yuan at centre stage and smiling as Yuan gives a speech.
And Peschisolido is photographed giving a speech as well, with Yuan looking on. Other photographs show Peschisolido chatting with Yuan and Jin at the event, and another photo shows the three posing for a photo together.
The Chinese-language caption for the photo translates to: “old friends excited to meet again.”
Peschisolido said that the photo caption has false information, and he reiterated that he does not know Yuan and Jin.
Jin had been named a number of times in media reports regarding the E-Pirate probe, prior to October 2018.
Peschisolido said that generally he is aware of media coverage of the casino money laundering probe in B.C., but that he did not recognize Jin. There were other politicians at the event attended by Yuan, Jin and their associates, including a former B.C. Liberal trade minister, photos show.
“I go to so many events with other elected officials. I sit beside a lot of individuals. I get photographed with a lot of individuals,” Peschisolido said. “I don’t know all of the individuals that are there. It was an opening, you said, of a cultural society. I have a lot of folks in the riding who are from Mainland China.”
WATCH: B.C. Liberal MP says government MPs not briefed on concerns with Chinese organized crime in B.C.
Peschisolido might not have known who he was standing with at the Chinese culture club opening in October 2018 — but Jin was well known at the City of Richmond, and allegations about him are in public documents.
Jin once managed a spa and massage parlour known as the Water Club on the 11th and 12th floors of the Radisson Hotel on No. 3 Road, in Richmond’s downtown.
The Water Club came to the attention of the RCMP on Nov. 7, 2009, when officers responded to a complaint of alleged prostitution, according to documents attached to a City of Richmond staff report. The club was connected to a number of directors in China, documents show.
Jin denied illegal activity at the massage parlour, but Richmond’s council cancelled his business license. No charges resulted from that RCMP investigation.
– with a file from Jesse Ferreras
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.