Cullen Commission’s inquiry into alleged money washing activities in British Columbia gaming properties has heard the long-awaited testimony of Attorney General David Eby. On Monday Mr. Eby testified that the British Columbia Lottery Corporation and its regulator had major differences on the issue, and he was hesitant on who to thrust. He claimed that there was a significant difference in what information he was given from different operatives.
Mr. Eby has been the latest government official to give testimony in Cullen’s Commission public inquiry. Previously former B.C. premier has shared experience from her term, along with former finance minister Mike de Jong and also former minister Shirley Bond. The commission has a deadline of December to compile its full report and verdict on the money laundering issue.
Standing by Allegations
The Attorney General explained that the Crown corporation and the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch had profoundly different stories about the money laundering situation in the province’s casinos. He stated that Crown officials claimed that they had a top-notch anti-money laundering program. Later the regulator showed Mr. Eby footage of gamblers bringing huge amounts of money in CA$20 bills into the casinos.
According to him, back then the branch was alarmed that the Crown corporation has not been able to adequately deal with the concerning problem. Mr. Eby further added that the regulator even demanded stricter measures should be taken against the illegal activities but the Crown agency was unwilling to implement them.
Back in 2017, the Attorney General brought in former lawyer and RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German to conduct a report on the suspicious money activities allegedly connected to organized crime groups. According to Mr. German’s report over CA$100 million has been washed in the province’s gambling facilities for the last decade. The report also suggested major miscorrelations between the Crown and the GPEB.
When the report was published in 2018 the Attorney General claimed that the Liberal government turned a blind eye to the problem, this Monday Mr. Eby defended those allegations. He acknowledged that those are very serious allegations but continued by saying that when he contacted Mr. de Jong about the issue, his response was simply that there was no such problem.
Last Week’s Testament
Last Friday on April 23, 2021, former finance mister Mr. de Jong himself has also given testimony in the public inquiry. He stated that the accusations against the Crown corporation of prioritizing revenue instead of stopping the issues were untrue. He also shared that it was extremely frustrating to hear that the then-government did not act on the issue and claimed that this was not the case.
Rewinding even further down the road, former B.C. minister Shirley Bond has also given her side of the major money-laundering scandal in the province. Ms. Bond defended the 2011 government by saying that back then it had a lot on its plate since gang violence, civil forfeiture, and gambling addictions were hitting their peak numbers too.
Source: “‘Significant’ disconnect between B.C. Lottery Corporation and gaming regulator over money laundering, AG says” CBC, April 26, 2021