Mother of the Girlfriend of Mayor of Vancouver held on corruption charges in China

By Christine Duhaime | April 25th, 2015

In the latest twist in the continuous coverage of high-ranking Chinese foreign nationals who immigrated to Vancouver, the mother of the girlfriend of the Mayor of Vancouver has been incarcerated over corruption charges in China.

Here is the story as reported in South China Morning Post.

The Mayor, Gregor Robertson, has a girlfriend who is a current or former (details seem fuzzy), Chinese foreign national named Wanting Qu. She is a singer and is a “tourism ambassador” for Vancouver and her ultimate boss is the Mayor.

Below is a picture of Wanting from her Instagram account.

Wanting’s mother, Qu Zhang Mingjie, was a Chinese government official, specifically the Deputy Director of the Development and Reform Commission of the City of Harbin, China. In September 2014, she was fired from her position and is now incarcerated in China facing a criminal trial. She is alleged to have sold state property at discounted rates to purchasers impliedly in exchange for benefits paid to her. Wanting immigrated to Canada several years ago and told the media that her mother financially supported her studies in Canada. That flow of funds from mother to daughter, from China to Vancouver, and from whence they were derived, may be an issue.

Qu Zhang Mingjie is a politically exposed person in anti-money laundering law. As her daughter, so is Wanting. And the Mayor, as Wanting’s boyfriend, is also a politically exposed person under the FATF policy guidance.

As a politically exposed person (“PEP”), banks in Vancouver, Hong Kong and China that provide services to Wanting, and her mother, are and were, obliged to treat them as high-risk clients and vet and confirm the source of their funds above a certain threshold. That is because, pursuant to policy and research by the FATF, G20 and others, politically exposed persons are at a higher risk for the commission of financial crimes. With respect to parents and children, financial crime typologies show that politically exposed parents often transfer proceeds of crime to their children,  hence children are PEPs by definition. Financial crime typologies in respect of Chinese foreign nationals indicate that they often transfer proceeds of crime to places like Vancouver to pay for the education of their children and buy them luxury homes and cars.

There is no allegation that Qu senior transferred any of the alleged proceeds of corruption, if there are any, to Qu junior. But if Qu Zhang Mingjie is convicted of corruption, the Government of China may become interested in funds in Vancouver. That is because her daughter told the media her mother funded her studies in Vancouver.

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