The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C. headed by Commissioner Austin Cullen has now been granted an extension. The inquiry which investigated the alleged money washing scandals at B.C. casinos will now have more time to conduct its final report on the matter. Now, the report must be finalized before May 20, 2022.
This has not been the first delay for the commission, as it was previously rescheduled due to the emergence of the unprecedented situation, which complicated the process. Due to health and safety concerns after March 2020, many hearings were conducted online via video calls. Now, with the second extension, the commission will have enough time to collect closing submissions.
Commissioner Culler stated that the commission’s staff, counsel, and involved participants have put enormous efforts to get to this stage of proceedings. The inquiry has now officially concluded the hearings, however, Mr. Cullen said that they have assessed the situation and have determined that there will not be enough time to conclude the final report by the previous deadline of December.
According to the commissioner, with the extended deadline to May 20, 2022, the inquiry will be able to compile a report that provides analysis and recommendations which will be in compliance with the importance of the matter. The inquiry was tasked with investigating alleged money laundering activities in B.C. casinos as well as exploring methods of battling the issue in the future.
Additionally, the commission noted that despite the significant progress that has been made in the review of the enormous record, the finalization of the final report will be a rather time-consuming process. The delays to the inquiry were also to accommodate former British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s anti-money laundering director and whistleblower Ross Alderson, with whom the commission had trouble locating.
The commission has also explained that its mandate, is wide-ranging in its breadth and scope, as it consists of various sectors of the economy, as well as a wide range of enterprises, government and regulatory agencies and officials, law enforcement, corporations, gaming entities, and many more. It also includes a review of crucial concepts like quantification, privacy implications, and money laundering and anti-money laundering initiatives.
During the inquiry’s mandate, it has heard a great number of testimonies from various industry officials and suspects. One of the more shocking ones was when notorious loan shark Paul King Jin’s lawyer Greg DelBigio advised the commission to implement stricter anti-money laundering protocols and provide more RCMP involvement to deal with the problem.
In the final days of the hearing at the Cullen Commission, the federal lawyers presented a never-seen report from a 2021 investigation by the RCMP. According to which, the probe discovered that Richmond’s River Rock Casino and New Westminster’s Starlight Casino were the main locations for money laundering, and even the casinos’ administration even used wealthy customers as a way to generate more revenue.
Source: Wood, Graeme “Results from B.C. money laundering inquiry delayed until May 2022”, Alaska Highway News, November 25, 2021