B.C. money laundering public inquiry report, recommendations to be released

VANCOUVER — A report being released today is expected to explain how billions of dollars in suspected illegal cash was funnelled into British Columbia's real estate sector, casinos and luxury car market. 

The New Democrat government appointed former B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen in May 2019 to lead a public inquiry into money laundering, which heard testimony over 133 days.

It came after several reports concluded cash linked to organized crime and the drug trade affected B.C.'s gaming sector and heard that hundreds of thousands of dollars in "dirty money" was hauled into the province's largest casino in backpacks, shopping bags and suitcases.

The inquiry’s mandate was to make findings of fact and recommendations, determine the growth and methods of money laundering and find out if regulatory agencies or individuals contributed to the problem.

Nearly 200 witnesses testified, including former premier Christy Clark, current and former cabinet ministers, government and gaming industry officials, law enforcement officers and academics.

Two former senior gaming officials said they raised concerns more than a decade ago with gaming and government officials, including cabinet ministers, about increasing amounts of suspicious cash appearing at Vancouver-area casinos.

The inquiry heard that in one month in 2015, casinos in B.C. recorded $20 million in cash buy-ins, most of it in $20 bills. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2022.

The Canadian Press