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B.C. money laundering inquiry testimony ends today with reappearance of Rich Coleman

VANCOUVER — A former Liberal government gaming minister is expected to be the last witness in British Columbia’s public inquiry into money laundering as testimony concludes today.

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, has been recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month.

Coleman told the commission it was difficult to address money laundering at B.C. casinos directly because there were complex legal issues related to being able to prove suspicious cash at casinos was illegal money. 

The inquiry has heard testimony from two senior gaming investigators who said they raised concerns dating back to 2009 about increasing amounts of suspicious cash likely linked to organized crime appearing at Vancouver-area casinos. 

Since last spring, the commission has heard testimony from about 200 witnesses, including former B.C. premier Christy Clark, several former and current cabinet ministers, police officers, gaming officials and financial crime experts and academics.

The New Democrat government appointed B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen in 2019 to lead the inquiry after four reports concluded the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash linked to organized crime impacted the province’s real estate, luxury vehicle and gaming sectors.

Cullen has until Dec. 15 to deliver his report, which will include recommendations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2021.

The Canadian Press