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

The Port of Prince Rupert has experienced another year of increased cargo volumes, shipped through the city, with more than $50 billion in international trade facilitated through the area, the Port Authority announced on Jan. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Port cargo volume growth continues despite pandemic obstacles

Prince Rupert Port authority announces $50 billion in international trade

The IIO B.C. is seeking witnesses to an arrest made in Penticton on Nov. 8, during which the male resisted and sustained a head injury. (File Photo)
The Independent InvestigationsOffice of B.C. released a report on Jan. 18 that a Prince Rupert RCMP officer is cleared of any serious harm wrongdoing from a May 29, 2020 incident. (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigation clears Prince Rupert police officer

IIO investigated May 29 incident where woman fell 25 metres in Prince Rupert

Face masks are required to be worn in all SD 52 common areas such as hallways. School District 52 announced on Jan. 15 three different schools in Prince Rupert all had a member of the school community test positive for COVID-19. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
3 Prince Rupert schools have positive COVID-19 case(s)

Letters sent home to families in three Prince Rupert schools announcing COVID-19

Power outages affected thousands of BC Hydro customers in the north on Jan. 14 (File photo) (File photo)
Power outages affect thousands of BC Hydro customers in northern B.C.

Transmission failure led to outages in Prince Rupert and Port Edward

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

The IIO B.C. is seeking witnesses to an arrest made in Penticton on Nov. 8, during which the male resisted and sustained a head injury. (File Photo)
The Independent InvestigationsOffice of B.C. released a report on Jan. 18 that a Prince Rupert RCMP officer is cleared of any serious harm wrongdoing from a May 29, 2020 incident. (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigation clears Prince Rupert police officer

IIO investigated May 29 incident where woman fell 25 metres in Prince Rupert

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read