The Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering officially commenced the process many locals have been looking forward to. The first phase of the money laundering inquiry was supposed to see its official start this Monday and last for a couple of days. Individuals and companies directly affected by the criminal practice that had been in progress for years had the chance to share their thoughts and insights.
An official investigation into the subject of money laundering has been something British Columbia has been preparing for about a year now. Locals have been looking for answers as to who is responsible for the criminal practice to take place, as well as the true scope of the crime proceeds that have been laundered through the British Columbian casino venues.
It could be recalled that back in May 2019, British Columbians were seeking answers as soon as possible. The media was also pressuring the local government for answers regarding the local gambling field, the housing market, as well as the luxury vehicles industry. The lax regulations existing on a provincial level have been eyed as the potential reason for criminal organizations to prefer this area.
The Federal Court of Canada located in Vancouver is the arena of various conversations on the subject right now, as February 24 saw the official beginning of this inquiry. Its first phase is expected to continue all the way to February 26. Stephanie Smith, president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, was part of this initial phase and she had her thoughts to share with the Cullen Commission.
Mrs. Smith made it clear that there are many ways in which British Columbians have been directly affected by the money laundering practices on a provincial level. She pointed out that the issue has been on the table for years and the union members have had to tackle it on a regular basis. Loan sharks and VIP gamblers have affected the day-to-day operation.
Organized Crime in Casinos
It is no secret that some of the casino locations in British Columbia such as the River Rock Casino in Richmond had been frequented by loan sharks and Chinese high rollers seeking bigger cash prizes. In the meantime, they were also looking for ways in which they could launder cash proceeds of their crimes, as it has been revealed by the probes on a provincial level, as well as a couple of reports on the subject.
According to Mrs. Smith, casino workers have been facing organized crime for more than two decades but the casino management was often prone to ignoring the signals and ongoing crime. She wants to see how individuals reporting information would be protected down the road. William Smart, Counsel for the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, claimed that many changes have taken place over the past two decades and the public is widely misinformed.
He pointed out that the Crown corporation has implemented measures for the prevention of money laundering, a notion supported by Mark Skwarok, counsel for Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. May 25 is about to see the beginning of the second phase of this process, lasting five weeks. The fall months of 2020 are expected to see the main hearings of this inquiry.