Money laundering public inquiry commission announces first set of participating organizations

B.C. Premier John Horgan is joined by Finance Minister Carole James and Attorney General David Eby as they announce a decision to move forward with the public inquiry in light of recent findings on money laundering in the province during a press conference at the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

British Columbia’s money laundering public inquiry has released the list of individuals and organizations who will be given official standing once the hearings begin.

Sixteen organizations have been given official standing, including the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), Great Canadian Gaming Cooperation and the Law Society of British Columbia.

“This is who is allowed formal status at the hearings which will give them a number of rights to participate through opening and closing arguments, examining witnesses, putting forward evidence and information to assist in this inquiry,” senior commission counsel Brock Martland said.

The public inquiry was called by Premier John Horgan in May after intense media pressure for people to be held accountable for widespread money laundering in B.C.’s casinos, housing market and luxury car industry.

The next step for the commission will be a series of public meetings across the province. The goal is to host the meetings within the next two months to help shape the next steps of the inquiry.

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“The idea is to give people in different parts of the province the opportunity to stand forward and express what they identify as being issues of real concern to them, things they would like us to focus on or address in our process,” Martland said.

The groups with official standing will work with the commission to put in place procedures, a rule book and the scope of issues to focus on. The bulk of the hearings will take place in the fall of 2020, with some hearings potentially taking place in the spring of 2020.

Commissioner Austin Cullen has been asked to report back by May 2021.

The commission has also granted government bodies official standing. The list includes B.C.’s Ministry of Finance, the province’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) and the Government of Canada.

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READ MORE: B.C. government calls public inquiry into money laundering

“I think what we have in this mix of applicants is quite a diversity of organizations and people who are coming forward and want to be part of this,” Martland said.

“From our point of view we are happy to see all these people coming forward. The government of Canada is one of the participants representing a number of federal agencies, and from the commission’s point of view that is a very important piece to see that the federal government is actively supporting this work, engaging in this work.”

Cullen has concluded oral hearings are required to further consider the applications of four individuals who are seeking standing. They are Ross Alderson, Brad Desmarais, James Lightbody and Fred Pinnock.

READ MORE: Former head of B.C.’s illegal gambling enforcement team blames RCMP, B.C. Liberals for inaction against money laundering

Alderson is the BCLC’s former director of anti-money laundering. Desmarais is the Lottery Corp’s Vice President of Casino and Community Gaming and served as the Vancouver Police Department’s officer in charge of the major crime section.

Lightbody is the currently on leave for medical reasons as the president and CEO of the BCLC. Pinnock is the former head of B.C.’s illegal gambling enforcement team.

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As to who else may be called as witnesses, Martland says the commissioner will be working with the official parties to establish a list.

Other Inquiry Participants

  • The Society of Notaries Public of BC
  • The Law Society of British Columbia
  • Great Canadian Gaming Corporation
  • Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited
  • Canadian Gaming Association
  • British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union
  • Robert Kroeker
  • BMW Canada Inc. and BMW Financial Services, a division of BMW Canada Inc.
  • British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
  • The Canadian Bar Association, British Columbia Branch
  • Criminal Defence Advocacy Society
  • A coalition comprising of Transparency International Canada, Canadians for Tax Fairness, and Publish What You Pay Canada (the “Coalition”)

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