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

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey council approves $420,570 in grants for local arts, culture groups

This happened at Monday night’s council meeting, to cover 2021

In September 2018, former Vancouver Canucks player Dave Babych tees off at Northview Golf & Country Club in Surrey during the 35th annual Jake Milford Charity Invitational tournament. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
No ‘shotguns’ or banquets: Surrey golf courses pitch COVID-safe tournaments for 2021

With spring on the way, course operators book tournaments that will involve ‘tweaks and adjustments’

Investigators placed dozens of yellow evidence markers on the ground near the site of a fatal shooting in Langley City early Wednesday morning. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
UPDATE: 22-year-old man killed in targeted shooting in Langley

South Surrey vehicle fire may be linked to homicide: police

Members of the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society picked up their new van from Mainland Ford in Surrey Wednesday (Jan. 27, 2021) after the society’s old van was stolen and damaged. (Submitted photo: Dylan Van Rooyen)
After thrift store van stolen and damaged, Surrey dealership helps out firefighters’ charitable society

The Community Thrift Store van was stolen in South Surrey in December

Surrey-raised actor Michael Coleman in some of the roles he’s played since the mid-1990s. (submitted photo)
Chat with Robin Williams helped send Surrey’s Coleman into world of acting

‘For me, it was a game-changer,’ says co-founder of Story Institute acting school

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.
Roof of BC Place a stage for performers during online music festival

‘This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop’

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

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

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Most Read