A former director of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s anti-money laundering office says he is the “whistleblower” that likely prompted the public inquiry examining how hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash flowed through the province’s casinos.
Ross Alderson, who testified for more than four hours Thursday, said he was driven to leak information about the suspected extent of money laundering at casinos and bureaucracy to the activity at top levels.
“Did I leak information to the media? Yes I did,” Alderson told the Cullen Commission public inquiry into money laundering. “We wouldn’t be here today, if I didn’t.”
The New Democrat government appointed B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen in 2019 to lead the money laundering inquiry after several reports concluded the flow of hundreds of millions in illegal cash linked to organized crime affected the province’s real estate, luxury vehicle and gaming sectors.
Alderson, who worked in B.C.’s gaming industry since 2008, resigned from the Crown-owned lottery corporation in 2017.
He testified his anti-money laundering investigation and intelligence team was “second to none,” but efforts to combat illegal cash at casinos was hampered by “indifference.”
“I felt this needed to be out in the public forum,” said Alderson about his decision to leak information about illegal money activities at casinos. “I saw nothing being done. Nothing being done.”
The commission has heard previous testimony from other senior gaming investigators who said they raised concerns more than a decade ago with gaming and government officials, including cabinet ministers about increasing amounts of suspicious cash likely linked to organized crime appearing at Vancouver-area casinos.
Former premier Christy Clark and former gaming minister Rich Coleman are among the 200 people, including former and current cabinet ministers, police officers, gaming officials, financial crime experts and academics to already testify.
Alderson was granted standing to appear at the commission after Cullen decided his “legal, reputational and or privacy interests may be impacted by the findings of the commission in respect of his acts and omissions in the gaming industry between 2008 and 2017.”
Alderson, who testified from Australia where he is now living, faced questions from the commission about his unresponsiveness to a summons to testify that was issued in March 2020.
Commission lawyer Patrick McGowan asked Alderson why the commission had to conduct an international “manhunt” to locate the former lottery official.
“I wasn’t exactly hiding in a cave in Afghanistan,” said Alderson. “I was in Australia, paying taxes.”
He said he was concerned with family matters and believed it was up to the commission to find him.
“There has been a global pandemic over the last year,” he said. “My priority has been the safety of my family. I’m living on the other side of the world.”
Alderson’s testimony is to continue Friday.
Cullen’s final report, including recommendations, is due Dec. 15.
— By Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press