British Columbia

Closing submissions in B.C. money laundering inquiry call for more inter-agency co-operation

The Cullen commission heard from 200 witnesses including former premier Christy Clark, cabinet ministers, police officers, gaming officials and financial crime experts.

The Cullen commission examined the flow of dirty money through the B.C. gambling and real estate sector

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks over the hearing room before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on Feb. 24, 2020. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Lawyers for the British Columbia and federal governments say the way forward in the fight against money laundering is continued collaboration between governments, law enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies.

B.C. government lawyer Jacqueline Hughes told the commission the provincial gaming regulator and Crown-owned B.C. Lottery Corporation held differing views about illegal cash at casinos for years, but since then their working relationship has improved.

Federal government lawyer BJ Wray says the inquiry has raised public awareness about the threats posed by money laundering.

Three days of closing submissions at the inquiry into money laundering started Friday ahead of a final report and recommendations that are due in December.

The provincial government appointed B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen in 2019 to lead the inquiry after several reports said the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash linked to organized crime affected the province's real estate, luxury vehicle and gaming sectors.

The commission concluded testimony last month, hearing from about 200 witnesses including former premier Christy Clark, cabinet ministers, police officers, gaming officials, financial crime experts and academics.

The commission heard testimony that investigators had raised concerns more than a decade ago with gaming and government officials about increasing amounts of suspicious cash at Vancouver-area casinos.