B.C. Liberal MLA Rich Coleman is greeted by a crush of reporters after a public inquiry into money laundering was announced at the B.C. legislature, May 15, 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Looking forward to money laundering probe, Rich Coleman says

B.C. Liberal MLA has faced accusations he didn’t do enough

Former public safety minister Rich Coleman says he looks forward to testifying at a public inquiry into money laundering, after being accused by the NDP government of taking early steps that led to the growth of criminal activity in B.C.

“I’m quite happy with the inquiry,” Coleman told reporters at the B.C. legislature Wednesday. “We’ll finally get past some of this innuendo and accusation and get down to some facts.”

Premier John Horgan announced earlier in the day that B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen has accepted the job of heading an inquiry into money laundering, estimated by the B.C. government’s outside investigators to have reached more than $7 billion in 2018 alone.

READ MORE: B.C. holding inquiry into rise of money laundering

READ MORE: Hot cars hide dirty money, B.C. crime probe finds

Coleman noted that as B.C.’s solicitor general starting in 2001, he brought in a new Gaming Control Act after two premiers, Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark, resigned over issues related to gambling.

“I created the act so it was always arms length from the minister for statutory decision-makers, so no minister could ever influence a decision that was made,” Coleman said.

Coleman was minister in charge of the B.C. Lottery Corporation in 2009 when a dedicated illegal gambling enforcement team was disbanded. A new dedicated team was set up in 2016 as large casinos were operating in Metro Vancouver.

Taking questions after Wednesday’s announcement, Horgan repeated the suggestion that government revenues from gambling and taxes on a soaring real estate market may have been a motivation to keep the good times rolling in B.C.

“Perhaps other governments were intoxicated by the revenues that kept coming in,” Horgan said.

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said he is pleased about the NDP government’s decision to proceed with a public inquiry. He cited damning evidence from investigator Peter German and a panel led by law professor Maureen Maloney about multiple luxury home purchases by the same people. The investigations also uncovered a brisk trade in expensive cars that were bought with cash or untraced bank transfers, and then sold offshore.

“The key aspect of all of this is that the German report and the expert panel report were able to outline a series of very alarming issues with respect to money laundering,” Weaver said. “But they did so without access to the power of subpoena, they did so without access to cabinet documents that were confidential, they did so without access to other private information.”

The NDP government has twice asked the B.C. Liberals to waive confidentiality over cabinet documents related to their actions as money laundering was growing during their 16 years as government.

B.C. Liberal justice critic Michael Lee said the decision to seek those records is up to the judge in charge of the inquiry, which has been asked to gather its evidence and provide a final report by May 2021.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Just Posted

UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway blockade ends three hours later

About 80 people from four major Peninsula First Nations blocking major highway

Senior airlifted after van flips in Cumberland

A 73-year-old woman had to be airlifted out to hospital Tuesday following… Continue reading

UPDATED: Demonstrators plan to shut down Pat Bay Highway Wednesday afternoon

Adam Olsen, MLA, says issue should be taken to province, not communities

Vancouver Island man warning others through video following cyber attack

Julian White had his online portfolio hacked less than two weeks ago.

VIDEO: ‘Reconciliation is dead,’ say Wet’suwet’en supporters from steps of legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

Psychiatric assessment ordered for Victoria man charged with killing dog

Brandon Norman Bartlett, 38, appeared in court on Monday morning

Vancouver Island RCMP officer assaulted during traffic stop

On Feb. 21, a member of the Comox Valley RCMP was assaulted… Continue reading

Cowichan to get $1.5 million for flood protection along the Cowichan River

Funding comes from the province’s Community Emergency Preparedness Fund

Caught on camera: Police release video of man who allegedly stole seaplane in Vancouver

Police say the man broke into the Harbour Air terminal and then got into one of the seaplanes in the harbour

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Most Read