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.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Alcohol and speed not ruled out as factors in fatal crash north of Campbell River

Highway 19 reopened Sunday night after being closed in both directions

PHOTOS: Storm split weekend effort at the Brindy

After home stand, Campbell River to head on the road Saturday

Global Climate Strike comes to Campbell River

Rally and march to be held at Spirit Square on Sept. 20

NIC Artist Talk Series to kick off with abstract artist

Vancouver-based Fiona Ackerman to speak at Comox Valley campus on Sept. 26

Local volleyball star finishes 14th alongside national team at worlds

Emoni Bush competed with Canada at U18 World Championships in Egypt

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Island campground on the chopping block as ALC deadline looms

Owners fighting to continue facility’s operation, with a huge outpouring of support

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

Free Tesla 3 offered with purchase of Surrey townhome

Century Group’s offer for Viridian development runs through Oct. 31

B.C. communities urged to improve access for disabled people

One in four B.C. residents has disability, most want to work

Sikh millworker lodges human rights complaint against Interfor, again

Mander Sohal, fired from Delta’s Acorn Mill, alleges discrimination based on religion and disability

UVic students killed in Bamfield bus crash were from Winnipeg, Iowa City

Authorities said the two victims were a man and a woman, both aged 18

Most Read