Commissioner Austin Cullen looks over the hearing room before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver, on Monday, February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks over the hearing room before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver, on Monday, February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. attorney general relays money laundering inquiry concerns to federal counterpart

Austin Cullen expressed disappointment with Canada’s approach to the inquiry

British Columbia’s attorney general says he’s concerned about reports of a lack of co-operation from the federal financial intelligence agency at the province’s public inquiry into dirty money.

David Eby said Thursday he called federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to discuss the issues raised by inquiry commissioner Austin Cullen that Fintrac, Canada’s anti-money-laundering agency, wasn’t sharing its knowledge about money laundering in B.C. with the inquiry.

“I never expected anything but full co-operation from Canada’s only major anti-money-laundering agency,” Eby says in a statement. “To have anything short of that, given the agency’s stated mandate, is surprising and inexcusable.”

Cullen expressed disappointment with Canada’s approach to the inquiry in an interim report released Thursday.

“While I was heartened when Canada applied for participant status, its level of engagement has, in a few respects, fallen short of expectations,” it said.

The report singles out Fintrac as one of the federal agencies that was slow to comply with obligations to identify and elaborate on documents it has that could be relevant to the inquiry, said Cullen’s report.

“Fintrac’s initial list of documents was composed entirely of materials that were publicly available on its website,” it said.

The report said many of the documents the commission initially received from federal agencies were heavily redacted.

However, his report said in recent months the commission has been receiving more federal documents.

“I take this as a positive development and, I hope, an indication of change in approach,” the report said.

Eby said Blair pledged to assist in improving the responses to the public inquiry.

“Despite this disturbing revelation from the commissioner, I am heartened following my conversation with Minister Blair, in which he shared the federal government will soon announce significant changes in federal policing related to money laundering in our province,” Eby said.

Blair could not be immediately reached for comment.

Cullen said in a statement that his final report, due May 15, 2021, will be delayed. A new date for the report to the B.C. government with its recommendations was not announced.

The broad range of the issues being addressed, the length of the hearings, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and challenges obtaining documents are all responsible for the delay, the statement said.

“Money laundering is an issue of great importance to the citizens of B.C.,” said the interim report. “It is a crime that strikes at the heart of our collective values and corrupts the fabric of a free and democratic society.”

The New Democrat government established the inquiry in May 2019 after four reports outlined the extent of illegal cash at casinos and the impact of laundered money on high real estate prices in B.C.

The inquiry has heard testimony from two former police officers who said they raised concerns about organized criminals and illegal cash at casinos more than a decade ago, but the claims were not properly addressed.

Cullen’s interim report said the commission will strive to uncover the nature and scope of money laundering in B.C. and make recommendations to ensure those involved in fighting the crime have the tools they need.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

money laundering

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Education advisor Tom McEvay congratulates two Alberni Valley Bulldogs on their high academic achievements for the 2015-16 season: Quinn Syrydiuk, left, for college and Cayden Kraus for high school. (KAICEE TROTT PHOTO)
BCHL: Port Alberni’s Tom McEvay joins Coquitlam Express as education advisor

McEvay now schools players for three teams, including Alberni and Nanaimo

Gary Bender from Bailey Electric secures two art banners on lampposts at Argyle Street and Sixth Avenue in May 2020. Despite a delay due to COVID-19 measures, the Rotary Club of Port Alberni-Arrowsmith was able to collect and put up half of the art banners it usually does in the Rotary Arts District. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Rotary Arts District banner program switches to ‘paint at home’ for 2021

Arrowsmith Rotary Club needs 80 registrations to go ahead this year

(NEWS FILE PHOTO)
BUDGET 2021: City of Port Alberni looks at tax increase of 3.95 percent

City of Port Alberni held its first budget meeting of the year

Emma Nunn from Alberni Valley Rescue Squad waits at the summit of Mount Arrowsmith for the rest of the AVRS rope rescue team on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY DAVE POULSEN, AVRS)
UPDATE: Injured hikers among three rescued in the dark from Mount Arrowsmith

‘It was a very bad, very precarious spot to be able to locate them’

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Updated: Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Inmates at Metchosin’s William Head Institution are being given COVID-19 vaccines as part of the first phase. Around 600 inmates will be vaccinated in the coming days. (Black Press Media file photo)
William Head prison inmates in receive first doses of COVID vaccine

Priority set for older inmates and those with underlying medical conditions

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

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

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A water taxi at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man arrested after stolen water taxi raced up Victoria’s Gorge Waterway

Man is facing recommended charges of theft over $5,000 after leading police on marine chase

Most Read