Shortly after Cullen Commission’s final report on B.C.’s inquiry into money laundering activities in provincial casinos, Fred Pinnock and Muriel LaBine shared their discontent with it. The two were whistleblowers in the inquiry and they are far from happy with the results of the years-long investigation and its findings and recommendations to the province.
Years ago, Mr. Pinnock led the RCMP’s illegal gaming taskforce, while Ms. LaBine previously worked as a dealer supervisor in the 1990s at Richmond’s River Rock Casino Resort. And the two were major whistleblowers in the Cullen Commission’s inquiry that investigated alleged money laundering activities in the B.C. casino, real estate, and luxury vehicle sectors.
On Wednesday, the government of B.C. released Cullen Commission’s final report to the public. The document discovered that crime groups have managed to wash billions of Canadian dollars through the three sectors. And in an interview on Thursday, Mr. Pinnock said that he is not pleased with the results of the investigation and commented that there should be more severe consequences such as sending people to jail.
The former RCMP official said that he was driven by a desire to contribute to public safety by volunteering as a witness to the commission. He added that he did his best to identify possible avenues for the public inquiry to learn who was behind the illicit activities. He also shared that he was even taken aback by the line of questioning a few times.
The other whistleblower, Ms. LaBine, commented that she backs the inquiry’s 101 recommendations, but believes that some of them would be difficult to implement. One of them is to lower the threshold of proof of a gambler’s source of funds to CA$3,000. In her opinion, the report should have concentrated on the revenue that casinos made and the people who are in charge of the gambling industry.
In her testimony, she said that she saw alleged loan sharks bring clients with them and pass the baccarat player bundles of CA$20 bills and casino chips. She described the report’s lack of evidence of corruption as a shock and how little B.C. government and police agencies have been able to tackle it. She said that the regulator’s “lack of will” comment is nonsense and a ridiculous statement.
Input from 200 Witnesses
Since the start of the public inquiry, Cullen’s Commission has heard testimony for over 133 days from over 200 witnesses. This includes politicians, government officials, law enforcement, academics, and experts on the matter. For instance, former gaming minister Rich Coleman testified twice, and last summer he was resummoned to make his second round of testimony, regarding comments on RCMP inspector Barry Baxter.
After the release of the report, the RCMP responded it is now reviewing the document and stated that it has participated fully in the investigation. B.C. Attorney General David Eby expects disappointment from his colleagues in Ottawa due to the failures of the federal money-laundering regime described in the report. And the local government will now work on implanting the recommendations.
Source: McSheffrey, Elizabeth & Hua, John “‘People need to go to jail’: B.C. whistleblowers let down by final report into money laundering”, GlobalNews, June 17, 2022