B.C.’s Cullen Commission Enters Next Phase

By Ben Hamill - October 27 2020
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B.C.’s Cullen Commission Enters Next Phase

Monday this week saw the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia enter its next phase of hearings in Vancouver, B.C. Resumed only on October 26 instead of the initially-scheduled October 13, the current phase previously got pushed out by presiding commissioner Austin Cullen so as to preserve the integrity of the now-concluded electoral run in the province.

The inquiry will throughout the course of this week hear testimonies by several former RCMP officers as well as officials – past as well as present – from the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). Individuals set to testify include former Great Canadian Gaming surveillance shift manager and current BCLC Anti-Money Laundering Project Specialist Steve Beeksma, as well as Stone Lee, who is also a former GCGC surveillance manager. Lee is currently an investigator for the BCLC.

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Previous Developments

The inquiry in February this year heard support voiced by the British Columbia Real Estate Association in terms of the establishment of a provincial land registry identifying all who bought fixed property in the province. The association also at the time confirmed the creation of an internal group tasked with the making of anti-money laundering proposals.

The BCLC during the previous phase of the hearings claimed to have reported all suspicious financial transactions within the context of gambling to Canadian financial crimes watchdog Fintrac – and on an ongoing basis. The corporation also testified of additional anti-money laundering measures reportedly launched in an attempt to slow and hopefully eventually prevent the movement of “dirty money”. The BCLC at the time of its previous testimonies alleged to have focused heavily on anti-money laundering initiatives since as far back as 2012.

BCLC Passes The Buck

The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation during the initial phases of the process testified in the defense of the BCLC, defending in its own testimonies the organisation’s response to financial crimes and the laundering of dirty money generated by drug trafficking, human trafficking, dealings in illegal firearms, etc. The criticism of the industry is largely inflated and unfounded, testified the GCGC at the time.

But a conglomerate of groups focused on fair taxation had an entirely different story to tell the commission. The groups told of dirty cash having become such a widespread occurrence in Canada, that the concealing of cash generated by illegal means within shell companies, casinos, real estate ventures, luxury motor vehicle dealers, and more, has globally become known as snow washing.

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