NDP: Public inquiry on ‘dirty money’ delayed until after election

JUSTICE Austin Cullen on Friday delayed hearings of the commission on money laundering until after the election. The independent public inquiry, launched by the BC NDP government, will reconvene hearings on October 26, 2020.

“I am sure that Andrew Wilkinson is breathing a deep sigh of relief upon learning of this decision by Commissioner Cullen,” said BC NDP candidate for Vancouver-Point Grey David Eby. “The reason we need a public inquiry into money laundering is so that people could see what government has seen. We simply do not know what will happen to this public inquiry if the BC Liberals are elected.”

While in government, the BC Liberals shut down the specialized policing unit, buried and ignored reports, and silenced or fired people who tried to raise the alarm. 

Below is a timeline of the BC Liberals’ record on money laundering:

December 2007: The Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET) prepares a report warning that if they are disbanded, high level illegal gambling targets will continue with impunity.

January 2009: IIGET prepares a “Threat Assessment” report warning that BC casinos are extremely vulnerable to money laundering and that Hells Angels had infiltrated casinos. IIGET asks for more resources.

April 2009: Coleman eliminates funding for IIGET, disbanding the unit

2011: RCMP Inspector Barry Baxter from the RCMP’s Integrated Proceeds of Crime Section speaks out about suspicions of dirty money. Rich Coleman goes after him in the media. 

March 2013: The investigator leading gaming enforcement warns of money laundering at BC casinos. Mike de Jong fires the investigator. No action is taken.

July 2015: The money-laundering crisis reaches historic levels with one casino accepting $13.5 million in twenty-dollar bills in a single month. 

July 2015: BC Lottery Corp sends a report to government detailing a massive underground banking network that laundered money through River Rock Casino. The 600 account holders in the underground banking network include known drug dealers in Mexico and Peru, and terrorist financiers in Iran.

July 2016: The BC Liberal government receives a report from accounting firm MNP LLP recommending changes to anti-money laundering practices. They fail to implement the recommendations and withhold the report from the public.

June 2018: After release of Peter German’s report on money laundering in BC’s casinos, BC Liberals hide Rich Coleman and Mike De Jong from the media. Andrew Wilkinson blames the RCMP for disbanding the task force.

July 2018: Anti-money laundering task force, IIGET’s former head Fred Pinnock speaks to journalists: “Fault lies at the feet of the BC Liberals while they were in government. They all knew what was going on in those casinos […] It was wild west in those large casinos where organized criminal activity was running amok.”

August 2018: Attorney General David Eby writes to Andrew Wilkinson asking him to share access to all documents related to money laundering from the previous government to help efforts to get dirty money out of BC casinos. Wilkinson refuses.