Former B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen’s 1,800-page report on money laundering in B.C. blames five elected officials for gaming file in his office — three of whom failed to take immediate action in the rise of money laundering. contributed, the report concluded.
But while former Liberal Gaming ministers Rich Coleman and Mike de Jong, and former Premier Christy Clarke showed a “failure of will” to take action, no one was motivated by political, personal or financial gain, Cullen writes.
“While some could have done more, there is no evidence that any failure was motivated by corruption,” he wrote.
University of British Columbia political scientist Gerald Baer says the report is highly critical of the BC Liberals and their lack of action, but does not present a “smoking gun” of criminal intent.
“There is no evidence that they were receiving such behavior, personally or as a party, although if Cullen were to give them a grade I am sure it would be something in the C-category.” – saying that they could have done more, or that they looked the other way.”
Rich Coleman served as BC’s Minister of Gaming for three terms: 2001 to 2005, 2008 to 2011, and 2012 to 2013.
During the first four years of his term, there is little evidence of significant money laundering in the province. But starting in 2008, Cullen writes that Coleman should have been positioned “to respond to this growing crisis from its earliest stages”.
According to the report, Coleman received advice from the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) that the province has “industry-leading anti-money laundering strategies,” while hearing concerns from the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) investigation department and the crime unit’s RCMP. Integrated income that BC casinos were accepting proceeds of crime.
Coleman responded by asking BCLC’s Robert Crocker to review anti-money laundering measures in the gaming industry.
Cullen found that this action was “prudent”. But while Coleman was seeking advice from behind the scenes, he was publicly downplaying the problem. For example, in 2011 Coleman publicly criticized a senior RCMP investigator who confirmed to Nation World News that he had found dirty money at a BC casino.
Cullen concluded that “[Coleman] should have acknowledged that aggressive action was required to immediately put an end to suspicious activity, which was clearly getting out of control by the end of his term. Mr. Coleman took no such action. In this regard, in my view, an important opportunity for decisive action has been missed.”
Shirley Bond was the Minister responsible for Gaming from March 2011 to February 2012, while also holding responsibilities as Minister of Public Security and Solicitor General.
Cullen wrote that Bond kept the gaming file at a critical time, when suspicious transactions began to rise in B.C.
But he found he had little experience with the industry, and had not been briefed or instructed on the issues he faced.
When the Crocker Review commissioned by Coleman was completed, Bond implemented nine of the 10 recommendations.
The tenth recommendation, “the creation of a cross-agency task force to investigate and gather intelligence on suspicious activities and transactions at BC gaming facilities,” was delayed until the impact of the first nine was assessed.
Cullen wrote that the immediate creation of such a task force could have a significant impact on money laundering in the gaming industry.
But they eventually concluded that “given the information available to Ms. Bond at this time, it is not reasonable to expect that she could have recognized the urgent need to take these actions.”
mike de jong
Mike de Jong served as the minister responsible for gaming from 2013 to 2017, at a time when suspicious transactions peaked in BC.
Cullen found that between 2013 and 2015, de Jong took “no meaningful action in response.”
“It does not appear that Mr. de Jong received information that could identify the need for action,” Cullen wrote.
In September 2015, de Jong received startling information about the state of the industry, in which in 2014, BCLC reported 1,631 suspicious transactions with a total value of more than $195.3 million – about 4.5 transactions on average and $500,000 per day. more than.
De Jong responded by creating a joint illegal gaming investigation team and issuing a letter to the BCLC with instructions.
Cullen wrote that de Jong carried out these measures with “remarkable speed”, but the letter to BCLC did not go far enough, as it did not require that BCLC immediately stop accepting highly doubtful cash.
Cullen also found that prior to 2015, de Jong could have independently sought more information about the state of the industry for which he was responsible.
“It was under Mr de Jong’s watch that the tide of suspicious transactions finally turned and suspicious cash entering the province’s casinos began to decline, a testament to the importance of his efforts,” Cullen wrote.
“The scale of the crisis at the province’s casinos at this time required more decisive action. While positive, the steps taken by Mr. de Jong were not commensurate with the urgency of the problem facing the industry at the time.”
Christie Clarke was the premiere from 2011 to 2017. Cullen found that as premier, Clarke did not have the same level of engagement as the other politicians named in the report, or statutory powers over the industry held by the gaming minister.
Cullen found that Clark was concerned about money laundering in the province after reading media reports about suspicious cash transactions. But while Clarke acknowledged that “more needed to be done,” she recognized that the recommendations made by the Crocker Report were working, and assured her ministers to be on top of the issue.
Cullen said Clarke did not understand the scope of the crisis when she testified that prior to 2015, she was not aware that buy-ins for hundreds of thousands of dollars — often paid in $20 bills — Often used in Lower Mainland casinos.
In September 2015, Clark was advised by de Jong that “we have a problem.” Cullen wrote that at this time, Clark did not ask about whether “large amounts of cash identified as suspicious were being accepted by the casino, and as a result, contributing to the province’s revenue.”
Cullen wrote that Clark did not take sole responsibility for halting the growth of money laundering, but the lack of action on file after 2015 contributed to its rise.
“The Premier learned that a Crown Corporation-run and government-regulated casino was reporting significant amounts of suspicious cash and, in his words, this was a cause for ‘grave concern’,” he wrote.
“A response that failed to determine whether these funds were contributing to the revenue of the province and failed to stop the practice for the remainder of his term as premier.”
David Abbey became BC’s attorney general and minister responsible for gaming after the provincial NDP came to power in 2017.
In his early days in office, Eby was briefed by the BCLC and GPEB, providing conflicting accounts of what was happening in the industry. Cullen found that while the BCLC described the industry’s anti-money-laundering regime as “North American-leading”, the GPEB called “an industry to illicit money and a lottery corporation to take any steps in response.” shown to be resistant to
EB responded by seeking outside advice – leading to a 2018 report by RCMP Commissioner Peter German, which found $100 million had been “cleaned up” in BC
Cullen wrote that AB acted “prudently” and that his actions did not contribute to the rise of money laundering in BC.