British Columbia

Money-laundering commission launches with town hall meetings across B.C.

The Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C. is getting underway with "town hall" style public meetings across the province, giving the public the chance to weigh in before hearings begin.

The public is invited to share suggestions, input, and feedback related to money laundering in B.C.

A casino employee surveys bundles of $20 bills in a photograph released by the B.C. attorney general's office as an illustration of money laundering. (B.C. attorney general)

The offices of the Cullen Commission are still bare, with appliances stacked on pallets waiting to be installed, but the commission's work looking into money laundering in B.C. really gets underway on Wednesday with the first in a series of public meetings across the province.

Officially titled the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, the role of the commission is to investigate and determine where and how money laundering is taking place in the province.

It was announced by Premier John Horgan in May, after a series of reports revealed the enormous scale of B.C.'s money laundering problem.

Brock Martland, one of the commission's eight lawyers, said the inquiry won't be adversarial like a typical court, but controversy could arise throughout the proceedings, as people may be accused of having fallen short in the past — people who have had a managerial capacity, as well as people who have been in political positions.

According to Martland, the commission is limited in its mandate to determine the facts when it comes to money laundering.

Brock Martland is one of the Cullen Commission's eight lawyers. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"There is no conviction or a finding of liability at the end of the day, indeed we don't have any power — and it's inappropriate to make findings of criminal or civil liability or misconduct," he said.

The commission, led by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen, is tasked with making recommendations, when it delivers its final report in May, 2021. Hearings will be held throughout 2020.

But before the commission's hearings can properly get underway, public town hall-style meetings will take place to give the public a chance to provide input. They will take place in:

  • Vancouver, Oct. 23
  • Kelowna, Oct. 29
  • Victoria, Nov. 4
  • Richmond, Nov. 7
  • Prince George, Nov. 14

People can also share their feedback about money laundering on the commission's website.

"There's a way in which money laundering undermines the legitimacy of our economy and our province, conceivably," said Martland of the importance of the inquiry's work.

"If it's the case that Vancouver is on the go-to list to park and clean money from criminal conduct, my own personal view is that's a great big problem and something that we shouldn't tolerate," he said.


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About the Author

Rafferty Baker is a video journalist with CBC News, based in Vancouver, filing stories for cbc.ca, CBC Radio, and television.

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