Charges have been laid in a $15 million money-laundering case linked to illegal online cannabis sales in Edmonton, Alberta RCMP announced today.
The revelation comes after a year-long investigation into Moxipay Corporation, an Edmonton-based company that facilitated payments for unlicensed, illegal online cannabis dispensaries.
The investigation was conducted by The Federal Serious and Organized Crime Unit, in partnership with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), Canada Revenue Agency, the Forensic Accounting Management Group, and the Seized Property Management Directorate.
According to police, the investigation determined that “cannabis dispensaries not federally licensed to produce and/or sell cannabis in Canada used Moxipay to transfer and receive funds,” said a release from Alberta RCMP.
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From January 2018 to December 2018, Moxipay facilitated over “84,000 transactions where nearly $15 million was received as proceeds from the illegal online sale of cannabis.”
Four directors of Moxipay, 67-year-old Nando Covelli, 67-year-old John Oluk, 45-year-old Marco Bonnani, and 39-year-old Daniel Tse, as well as 31 year-old Lorenzo (John) Covelli, an employee with Moxipay, were all charged with a number of Criminal Code offences.
“Moxipay received the funds through e-transfer payments into several bank accounts and subsequently, the funds were laundered either by way of transfer back to the illegal online cannabis dispensaries or to their direct benefit through third party individuals and entities,” said the release.
Investigators say it is the responsibility of the consumer to know if they are purchasing from illegal sources, as penalties for possession of illegal cannabis can result in a fine up to $5000 and/or possible sentencing.
“Illicit online drug trafficking is borderless and always evolving. It has forced police agencies to be innovative in their approach when tackling these complex investigations,”said Superintendent Chad Coles, Federal Serious and Organized Crime in the release.
If cannabis or cannabis products are not purchased from a government-regulated online site or a licensed retailer, the cannabis is considered illicit.
Police say because some online sites are being run illegally, there is the risk of having your banking information compromised.
“Since the legalization of recreational cannabis came into effect last year, consumers now have access to federally inspected and provincially regulated cannabis products,” said Dave Berry, Vice President, Regulatory Services, AGLC.
“Currently, there are more than 370 licensed retailers in Alberta and only one legal source to purchase cannabis online, AlbertaCannabis.org. Limiting the illicit market remains a top priority for AGLC.”