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

Abbotsford Regional Hospital’s ER expansion still in the works

Deadline for construction proposals recently closes, but construction timeline unknown

Money in to finish Lougheed Highway twinning

$29 million to complete four laning of four-kilometre stretch in Maple Ridge, but no start date

Figures reveal spike in highway traffic jams between Abbotsford and Langley

Nearly one in 20 westbound vehicles between Abbotsford and Langley clocked at under 60 km/h

Mission council grants third reading to Tunbridge townhome proposal

Speakers at public hearing voice concerns, say project will ‘stick out like an eyesore’

Rolling with the punches

Abbotsford Mission Boxing Club settles into new home on Maclure Road

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

How much do you know about the moon?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, see how well you know space

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Former Fernie Ghostrider re-signs with Vancouver Canucks

Josh Teves has signed a two-year contract with the NHL team

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

Most Read