A lawyer for the Richmond company alleged to be at the centre of B.C.’s biggest money laundering case wants a civil forfeiture suit against their clients thrown out.
Matthew Nathanson, one of Silver International’s lawyers, says in a recent court filing that B.C.’s director of civil forfeiture waited more than three years to make an application to seize $2 million found during Oct. 15, 2015 police searches.
Federal prosecutors stayed criminal charges against Silver International, its director Caixuan Qin and her spouse Jian Jun Zhu without explanation on Nov. 22, 2018.
But before the seized property could be returned to the couple in late December, the director of civil forfeiture filed a suit asking that the couple’s home as well as the millions of dollars seized during the massive RCMP E-Pirate investigation be forfeited to the government.
And on Dec. 20, the director got a B.C. Supreme Court judge to issue a preservation order “ex parte,” meaning lawyers for Silver, Qin and Zhu were not in court. That order froze the couple’s assets.
The director of civil forfeiture alleges that drug traffickers from several countries used Silver International to launder hundreds of millions of their illicit proceeds each year.
Nathanson suggested in his application that the government agency misled the Victoria judge when it claimed in December that the civil forfeiture case was filed “as soon as it could have been” even though the director had known about the cash since it was seized in 2015.
“At the time of the ex parte application, the director was aware of the two million dollars seized from the offices of Silver International because he had commenced an action on Dec. 1, 2015 against Silver International and related parties,” the application said.
The earlier suit noted “that police found two million dollars at Silver International on Oct. 15, 2015.”
“The court was clearly misled,” Nathanson said, adding that the lawyer at the hearing should have provided the judge with all the information before the interim preservation order was granted.
“Not only did the director’s counsel fail to disclose these crucial facts, she made a material representation by asserting that the notice of civil claim — filed three years after the fact was ‘filed as soon as it could have been.’”
The director of civil forfeiture has not yet responded to the application, which is set to be heard before Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes in Vancouver on May 1.
The civil forfeiture office has also filed suits seeking the assets of some former clients of Silver International.
Earlier this month, the director filed a suit against Paul King Jin, a Richmond man who was a key target of the E-Pirate probe, seeking the forfeiture of $4.86 million in cash and assets seized during the investigation.