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

Tidal Café owners Blythe and Kurt Reimer (left) and Toscano’s head chef and general manager Tristan Taylor have been sharing deck space to help both businesses during the expanded COVID public health order restrictions that ban indoor dining. Photo by Terry Farrell
Neighbouring Comox restaurants share patios for mutual benefit during COVID restrictions

Two restaurants in Comox are working together to help ease the burden… Continue reading

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
A little girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

John Ludlow is making leis for sale for $20 each, with all proceeds to be donated to the Comox Valley Transition Society. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Celebrating kindness, joy and helping others on Lei Day

Ludlow is making leis for sale with proceeds to be donated to the Comox Valley Transition Society

Cumberland is finalizing its tax rate bylaw for the year, which will see a 4.93 per cent increase. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland moving ahead on 4.93 tax hike

Residential rates’ hike was less than projected during planning stages

The Coastal Fire Centre is looking ahead to the wildfire season on Vancouver Island. (Phil McLachlan – Western News)
Coastal Fire Centre looking ahead at wildfire season on Vancouver Island

‘We’re asking people in the spring to be very careful’

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

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 following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus is putting a 41-passenger electric bus through its paces in a three-month trial run between Nanaimo and Victoria. (Photo submitted)
Electric bus on trial run serving Victoria-to-Nanaimo route

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus trying out 41-seat electric coach for three months

There are lots of resources for seniors looking for information about COVID-19. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
COVID questions? Here are some phone-based resources available for seniors

Here is a list of numbers to keep on hand for Vancouver Islanders who aren’t fond of computers

Chum Salmon fry being examined with multiple motile and attached sea lice on Vargas Island. (Cedar Coast Field Station photo)
Study: Tofino fish farm sea lice infestations add fuel to push to remove open pens

Ahousaht First Nation asking for higher standards than what DFO requires

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Most Read