B.C. Lottery Corp.’s CEO has been granted formal standing as a witness in the province’s money laundering Inquiry while Fred Pinnock — a former RCMP illegal gambling unit leader who has alleged the force’s senior leaders and the provincial government turned a blind eye to dirty cash — has not.
In preliminary hearings earlier in October, Commissioner Austin Cullen heard submissions from BCLC’s CEO Jim Lightbody and Pinnock, the former head of B.C.’s Integrated Illegal Gambling Enforcement Team (IIGET), on why each felt they should have formal standing.
The difference between normal witnesses and participants granted standing, include the ability to cross-examine other witnesses, seek documents, and make legal submissions to the Inquiry.
Cullen granted Lightbody standing on Friday and agreed he should be considered separately from BCLC, which has already been granted standing.
Lightbody argued he may have to defend himself personally, as the top decision maker for BCLC, because the Inquiry’s mandate is partly to “determine whether … acts or omissions have contributed to money laundering in British Columbia and whether those acts or omission have amounted to corruption.”
And Lightbody also argued, Cullen’s ruling says, findings in the independent review of B.C. casinos by former RCMP executive Peter German, were “highly critical of BCLC’s antimoney laundering policies and procedures.”
Lightbody and BCLC have denied allegations that BCLC was willfully blind to suspicious transactions in B.C. casinos.
Cullen ruled that as long as Lightbody shows that his testimony is not a duplication of BCLC’s, he should be given standing.
No standing for former RCMP officer
Pinnock submitted to Cullen that in the 2005 to 2008 time period he wanted to expand B.C.’s illegal gambling unit’s (IIGET) mandate into BCLC casinos, but instead the unit was disbanded, which allowed organized crime to flourish in B.C.
In his submissions to the Inquiry and evidence he earlier provided to the B.C. government, Cullen says Pinnock pointed to “certain political figures, bureaucrats, and law enforcement officials,” Pinnock believed were involved in “corruption” and allegedly “were connected in various ways with money laundering taking place in legal gaming venues.”
“Mr. Pinnock is concerned that the acts or omissions of individuals he and his colleagues observed allowed criminal organizations to flourish in British Columbia and beyond, contributing to the opioid crisis and untold numbers of overdose deaths in recent years,” Cullen’s ruling says.
Pinnock argued he could help deliver documents and testimony from other witnesses to the Inquiry based on his knowledge, if granted standing.
Pinnock argued “The Commission would not exist but for whistleblowers like him and that there is a risk, if he is not granted standing, that the only parties before the Commission would be individuals and entities with private interests to protect in justifying the status quo,” Cullen’s ruling says.
However, Cullen said the Inquiry itself is mandated to promote the public’s interest and there is not a need to “level the playing field” between participants.
“To the extent that Mr. Pinnock is interested in exploring whether and how legal gaming facilities within British Columbia were used for money laundering, and whether and how government or law enforcement agencies addressed that issue, his interests are aligned with those of the Commission itself.”
Another BCLC executive’s application for standing will be heard at a later date, Cullen’s ruling says.