Christy Clark testifies after five investigators say BC Liberals knew about money laundering

THE NDP on Tuesday launched an attack on former BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark as she was set to testify at the Cullen Commission, pointing out that five former RCMP investigators have testified that the BC Liberals knew about money laundering but refused to act.

According to the NDP :

* Barry Baxter, former Officer-in-Charge, Integrated Proceeds of Crime Section (IPOC):

In January 2011, Baxter told media that dirty money was coming into BC casinos in bags of $20 bills: “We’re suspicious that it’s dirty money. The common person would say this stinks, there’s no doubt about it.”

Rich Coleman publicly dismissed the concerns and criticized Baxter, who was subsequently banned from speaking to reporters.

Baxter told the commission that concern within the RCMP about money laundering in casinos “was a consensus with everybody that I dealt with right up to Chief Superintendent Harriman.”

While Clark was Premier in 2011 and 2012, Baxter frequently outlined his concerns internally. No improvements were made and his unit was disbanded in 2013.

* Calvin Chrustie, former Senior Operations Officer, IPOC:

Chrustie proposed an investigation into dirty money at casinos in 2012 but said his unit was not sufficiently resourced to conduct it effectively. He testified that “it was somewhat obvious to everybody I think in 2012 that the money was illicitly generated.”

Chrustie noted the money laundering concerns were discussed “at the highest level of the RCMP… with the provincial government.”

* Wayne Holland, former Officer-in-Charge, Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET):

In 2008, Holland provided a money laundering threat assessment to government that “was more substantial than we ever anticipated.” Holland requested that his unit be doubled to deal with the growing threat.

The BC Liberals dissolved it instead. Holland believes Coleman personally made the decision and that the RCMP disagreed with it. (Global, Dec. 2, 2020)

* Fred Pinnock, former Officer-in-Charge, IIGET:

In 2009, Pinnock attempted to set up a meeting to warn Coleman directly. Pinnock said Coleman refused to meet and that his reaction was “brutal and dismissive… my conclusion from that is that he did not want to be seen to be told.” (Cullen Commission transcript, p. 117)

In a recorded conversation between Pinnock and Kash Heed, Heed said senior BC Liberals knew about money laundering but refused to act: “Coleman was all part of it. It’s their network that caused this tsunami to take place in the casinos.” (Transcript, p. 8)

* Larry Vander Graaf, former Executive Director of Investigations for Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB):

Vaander Graaf met in person with Rich Coleman in 2010 and warned him directly that players were bringing $10,000 bundles of cash in $20 bills into the casino.

Vaander Graaf testified that “nobody wanted to say, ‘Don’t take the money.’ It looked like, walked like, and talked like, drug proceeds.” (Global News, Nov. 12)

Vander Graaf believes he was fired because he refused to remain silent about money laundering.

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