B.C. Attorney General David Eby has opened the door even further to a public inquiry into money laundering in B.C.’s casinos, housing market and race tracks.
In a one-on-one interview with Global BC anchor Chris Gailus, Eby acknowledged the public wants to see an inquiry where blame can be assigned for billions of dollars that are alleged to have been funneled through casinos and the housing market.
“There is a huge interest from British Columbians. I am hearing that and I know my cabinet colleagues are hearing it as well,” Eby said. “The premier has been very clear a public inquiry is still a possibility in our province.”
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Eby’s comments come on the heels of a exclusive investigation from Global News.
Several former investigators allege they lost jobs in B.C.’s casino industry for whistle-blowing, the investigation found, and are questioning whether some B.C. officials deliberately allowed government-regulated casinos to be used as hubs for money laundering.
Global News has conducted extensive interviews with the casino industry sources, and also reviewed documents and court testimony from several of the sources. The estimate is that up to $2 billion of laundered money has flowed through Lottery Corp. casinos.
The B.C. government has hired Peter German to conduct a follow up report from his 2018 investigation that looked into money laundering in casinos. The latest report, due back at the end of March, will look into laundering in real estate, the luxury car market and at horse racing tracks.
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“We knew from the beginning that the process we were engaging with Dr. German was one that was not going to lead to fault finding,” Eby said. “The problem with fault finding is that people hire lawyers and it takes years to resolve those issues.”
What’s also up in the air is the timing of a possible inquiry. Provincial prosecutors are still working their way through a money laundering case that could lead to charges. Eby says he is concerned an inquiry could compromise the investigation.
The government has also ruled out any decision on an inquiry until after German has conducted his investigation. There is a parallel Ministry of Finance investigation that is going on as well, and is also due back to the government at the end of March.
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“At the benefit of speed comes the cost of that accountability piece that clearly British Columbians are very interested in,” Eby said. “We are trying to work as quickly as we can to stop what is taking place and that doesn’t exclude a possibility of accountability through a public inquiry.
“Dr. German’s report is due by the end of March, so is the Ministry of Finance report. So with that information I think British Columbians should know the direction we are going.”
The decision on any public inquiry is up to the provincial cabinet including Eby and premier John Horgan. The Attorney General also is raising his concern that one of the major motivations for the previous government not taking action was that the province was making money from the money laundering in casinos.
According to work done by the BC Lottery Corporation the government was told there was a $30 million dollar price tag to take action.
“With the level of public interest it is pretty clear to me that certainly from the public’s perspective there is a need for this accountability mechanism to be in place and it’s something that will be considered by the premier and the cabinet,” Eby said.
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