After a series of extended deadlines over the last year, the Cullen Commission has now submitted its final report to the Government of British Columbia. The commission investigated claims that millions of dollars have been laundered by organized crime groups in the province’s gaming and real estate sectors. Now, the government will review the report before issuing it to the public.
The commission is led by B.C. Supreme Court judge Austin Cullen, and its inquiry into alleged provincial money laundering activities began in 2019. The commission was launched after several official reports found that hundreds of millions of dollars have been washed by organized crime groups through the province’s real estate, luxury vehicle, and gambling industries.
The Final Report is In
Cullen Commission’s official website states that the inquiry includes discoveries of facts on the extent, growth, and methods of money laundering in B.C., and whether these acts or omissions of regulators and individuals contributed to the illegal activity. Since the start of 2020, the commission has heard testimonies from over 200 witnesses in over 130 days of hearings.
The witnesses list includes former B.C. Premier Christy Clark, several former and current cabinet ministers, RCMP, gambling executives from the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, financial crime specialists, and academics. During the inquiry, two senior gaming investigators swore that they raised concerns about the issue of increasing amounts of cash in Vancouver-area casinos in 2009 with gaming and government officials.
B.C. Attorney General David Eby also testified. He said that he requested an independent review of money washing in B.C. casinos, after seeing footage of gamblers picking up large bags of CA$20 bills and bringing them inside the gaming amenities. Mr. Eby who will get a copy of the final report with Finance Minister Selina Robinson said that he is looking forward to reading it.
Justice Cullen’s Statement
Judge Cullen has also provided a statement with the submission of the final report. He thanked all the people who contributed to the report over the last three years. He explained that the report is the culmination of three years of dedication and commitment to the important task. He added that the report provides facts and recommendations for addressing the said issues in British Columbia.
Resummoned to Testify
Overall, the Cullen’s Commission has conducted over 133 hearings, and it has reviewed over 1,063 pieces of evidence. In May 2021, the commission resummoned former gaming minister Richard Coleman appeared for its second round of testimony. He was recalled to elaborate on his statements from 2011 when he spoke about former RCMP inspector Barry Baxter.
Back then, the minister told local radio, that he did not believe in Mr. Baxter’s concerns about money washing in the B.C. casino and that his RCMP colleagues did not believe him too. Last year, Mr. Coleman admitted that he has probably gone too far with those accusations. In addition, he also explained that he did not speak on behalf of the whole ministry.
Source: “B.C. government reviewing money laundering inquiry report before release, officials say”, CBC News, June 4, 2022