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

Truck fire knocked down on Highway 97

The blaze has been knocked down by fire crews

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: mix of sun and clouds

Environment Canada is predicting a 30 per cent chance of showers and a risk of thunderstorms this afternoon across the Okanagan

More showings of controversial movie Unplanned scheduled in West Kelowna

One of the additional shows sold out in three minutes at the Landmark Xtreme

Private viewing for Elijah-lain Beauregard to be held in Penticton

Afterwards, there will be a celebration of life next to the Okanagan Lake,

Single vehicle roll over in West Kelowna sends one to hospital

One person sent to hospital with non life-threatening injuries

VIDEO: Reports say Lashana Lynch is the new 007

Daniel Craig will reprise his role as Bond one last time

Nine kittens and cats rescued after being locked in bins in northern B.C.: SPCA

SPCA says cats were starving, and matted with feces and urine

10th year for South Okanagan Cherry Pit Contest

The event is a fun-filled way to celebrate the local harvest

ICBC insurance renewals get more complicated this year

Crash history, driver risk prompt more reporting requirements

High-speed rail link would run from Vancouver to Seattle in under 1 hour: study

Annual ridership is projected to exceed three million

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

U.S. tug firm to be sentenced for 2016 spill in B.C. First Nation’s territory

The Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils in October 2016

Asylum figures show overall slower rate of irregular crossings into Canada

Between January and June 2019, a total of 6,707 asylum seekers crossed irregularly into Canada

Boy’s best friend gets help from South Okanagan community

Community rallies around dog that needed surgery for two broken legs

Most Read