Casino Cash Restrictions Could Have Halted Money Laundering

By Ben Hamill - November 20 2020
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Casino Cash Restrictions Could Have Halted Money Laundering

The Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C. has been told that, had restrictions been imposed on the amount of cash customers were permitted to bring onto the casino floor, money laundering would have not as been so simple. The commission continued hearing testimonies by and regarding top BCLC and other government officials this week – and in particular, allegations of revenue having enjoyed priority over anti-money laundering policies.

Fred Pinnock, former RCMP Unit Commander of the Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team for B.C., who served in this role from September 2005 until his retirement a few years later, during his recent testimony told the commission of a private conversation that had in 2009 taken place between then-B.C. Minister of Legislation Kash Heed and himself (Pinnock). According to Pinnock, Heed had during said conversation referred to Rich Coleman, then-minister in charge of gambling affairs, as someone more interested in revenue than the upholding of the law.

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Pinnock Fought A Losing Battle

Pinnock furthermore told the commission how his experience during his time in the employment of the enforcement team had been dominated by feelings of powerlessness in the face of what he referred to as a charade and a losing battle. Public safety simply wasn’t a priority to his superiors, testified Pinnock, and especially not with respect to gaming.

This frustration, as well as the friction between the enforcement team and the BCLC, said Pinnock, eventually led to his taking a period of medical leave in December 2007 – only a little more over a year after he was first appointed.

Coleman Had No Regard For Public

Pinnock also testified regarding how about a year after that, in 2008, upon the disbandment of gaming enforcement unit by B.C.’s Liberal government, he went as far as trying to schedule a meeting with Coleman in order to discuss his concerns about money laundering and gang activities in the province’s casinos. He tried to arrange the meeting via his then-girlfriend, Liberal MLA Naomi Yamamoto.

Coleman, however, responded to being approached by Yamamoto by publicly berating her in front of the entire Liberal party assembly. Yamamoto would reportedly later describe the experience and dismissive, aggressive, and humiliating - all of which Pinnock said had finally convinced him that Coleman did not want to hear concerns voiced about casinos or money laundering.

Kash Heed is expected to sometime this week be afforded the opportunity to cross-examine Pinnock in relation to the statements made about him (Heed) and others.

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