Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)

Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Rich Coleman, who was the minister overseeing gambling and casinos in B.C. off and on from 2001 to 2013, appeared before the Cullen Commission for his second and final session of testimony on Friday.

Coleman was the MLA for Fort Langley-Aldergrove or Langley East from 1996 to 2020, and during the years the Liberals controlled the B.C. Legislature from 2001 to 2017, he was the cabinet minister in charge of gaming multiple times, including from 2001 to 2005.

Coleman had previously told the commission last month that it was difficult to address money laundering at B.C. casinos directly because there were complex legal issues related to being able to prove suspicious cash at casinos was illegal money.

Much of the hour-long questioning period between Coleman and Brock Martland, a lawyer working for the Cullen Commission, focused on an interview he gave to CBC’s B.C. Almanac in January 2011 with Fort Langley’s Mark Forsyth.

READ MORE: Money laundering inquiry testimony ends with reappearance of Rich Coleman

After a $460,000 transaction at the River Rock Casino in Richmond occurred with $20 bills being exchanged for gambling chips, Inspector Barry Baxter with RCMP’s Integrated Proceeds of Crime section told CBC that suspicions ran high.

“We’re suspicious that it’s dirty money,” Baxter stated in an interview. “The common person would say this stinks. There’s no doubt about it.”

When questioned on B.C. Almanac, Coleman said he didn’t agree with him “and neither do all the superiors of his on the RCMP.”

“He’s offside with some of the messaging I got from the RCMP last week when I asked them the question and they’re having a look at the comments that he made within the policing because they don’t feel that it was correct,” Coleman said in the interview.

Martland asked whether Coleman himself contacted the RCMP, to which the former MLA responded that he had not.

“I should have used ‘we’ instead of ‘I’,” Coleman said, clarifying that he did not personally have that conversation, but instead had a chief of staff and contacts at the BC Lottery Corporation distill information for him.

Coleman said he was simply using the information to make a statement to the public through the program.

Coleman additionally explained that the comments from Baxter came “out of the blue,” particularly because the process of a review into casino money laundering had begun.

“The surprise of the comments made it difficult,” Coleman added, ultimately admitting that he felt he probably went a little too far out with his opinion on his answer of Baxter being “offside.”

When asked whether the interview downplayed the seriousness of money laundering issue at hand, Coleman felt he actually up-played it with his response to Baxter’s comments.

READ MORE: Former cabinet minister denies saying government knew about casino crime

He summarized that particular experience as a frustrating interview and a frustrating week.

“How I phrased something ten years ago in a seven-minute interview, especially now looking back with hindsight, can’t be changed,” he said.

Coleman also spoke to the $460,000 casino transaction and why he had not believed it to be suspicious, explaining that he knew people who played in casinos with large cash transactions that are legitimate.

“This person was a known customer to the casino,” he noted.

Martland remarked that the person may not have been suspicious, but the cash could have been.

The Cullen Commission was formed in the wake of reports of huge amounts of illicit cash moving through B.C. casinos with few attempts to investigate the source of any of the funds.

An inquiry launched by the NDP outlined how illegal cash from organized crime was flowing through casinos, as well as the real estate and luxury car markets in Metro Vancouver.

The hearings are overseen by Commissioner Austin Cullen, a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

The commission was adjourned to July 6 when final statements will be made.

Cullen has until Dec. 15 to deliver his report, which will include recommendations.


Have a story tip? Email: newsroom@aldergrovestar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

AldergroveLangleymoney laundering

Just Posted

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van burst into flames just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Kids from a MOSS Sailing Camp sail just off Canal Waterfront Park in Alberni Inlet during a day camp in August 2014. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
MOSS Sailing camps return to Alberni Valley

One-week camps designed for kids will take place at Sproat Lake

Robert Gunn of Alberni Climate Action loads garbage discovered in the Alberni Inlet around Cous Creek into his canoe during a recent ocean shoreline cleanup. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Alberni Climate Action group creates NIC scholarship

Students attending college full time may apply through NIC

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens after accident at Taylor River Flats

Multi-vehicle crash had closed highway to west coast

The Rollin Art Centre is holding children’s art camps this summer. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Celebrate art in the garden

Rollin Art Centre will host art event on Saturday, June 26

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read