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News Brief

BC Liberal Government Shut Down RCMP Unit After Mobster Bought Stake in BC Casino: Report

Confidential report suggests BC Liberal government shut down RCMP unit despite warnings about crown corporation’s ties to organized crime

A confidential RCMP report obtained by Global News suggests British Columbia’s former BC Liberal government shut down a special RCMP unit after it was learned an individual with suspected links to an organized crime syndicate bought a stake in a casino owned by the BC Lottery Corp — a provincial crown corporation.

According to Global News, the RCMP anti-illegal gaming unit cited the example of the unnamed mobster in their report to argue for expanded powers to investigate drug cartels laundering money through BC Lottery Corp. casinos.

Instead, the BC Liberal government defunded and disbanded the special RCMP unit three months later.

RCMP report details horrific crimes: According to Global, the confidential report details horrific allegations of criminal activity linked to gangs laundering money through casinos owned by the BC crown corporation:

“The report also contained jarring allegations of victimization, including that women with gambling debts in Asia were being trafficked to B.C. and forced into sex work, and that children in B.C. had been thrown in the trunk of a car and warned at gun-point that their father owed $300,000.”

The responses: Denis Meunier, the former deputy director of Canada’s financial crimes watchdog FinTRAC, told Global News:

“In my view, if (the criminal casino ownership allegations) were reported to anyone (in BC government and RCMP) and they were not further investigated, there is a breach. Because there is a fiduciary or legal responsibility to the public. This is shocking.”

Former Crown Prosecutor Sandy Garassino told Global News:

“All of these (allegations) are of a piece, of a mentality of turning a blind eye to criminality. Anyone connected to organized crime, it is a complete collapse of regulatory oversight that such an individual is allowed anywhere near a provincially-licensed gaming site, in terms of ownership or any stake.”

Garassino added details in the report “shred the credibility” of former BC Liberal solicitor general Rich Coleman’s explanation for disbanding IIGET.

Rich Coleman previously claimed IIGET was defunded because it was inefficient and ineffective.

Here is Rich Coleman’s response: In response to questions from Global News, Coleman — who currently sits as BC Liberal MLA for Langley East — issued the following statement:

“As you know, Justice Austin Cullen is expected to begin his inquiry into these matters this spring. I have full confidence that Justice Cullen will do his work thoroughly and as I’ve stated previously, I will cooperate with him should I be requested to. I will also say that as Minister, I carried out my fiduciary and legal duties and to insinuate otherwise would be incorrect.”

Rich Coleman denies hanging up on a journalist: Radio journalist Alan Regan tweeted Wednesday that he tried unsuccessfully to interview Coleman after the Global News story went public.

However, Regan said Coleman “explained he wasn’t interested and hung up on me.”

Responding to Regan’s tweet, Coleman denied hanging up on the reporter.

Coleman explained he was “busy making dinner” and “thought the conversation was over,” but added: “Sorry if you felt you were hung up on.”

The bigger picture:
The revelations contained in the confidential RCMP report are yet another example of the old BC Liberal government’s inaction on criminal money laundering activity during its 13 years in power.

Global News previously reported that the BC Liberal finance ministry intervened to raise gambling limits, despite warnings raised by the province’s gambling regulator about money laundering.

As previously reported, the BC Liberals’ inaction on money laundering in gambling and other sectors also contributed to an increase in BC real estate prices.

BC’s money laundering inquiry is set to start work with opening statements scheduled to begin in February.

[Global News]


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