Interim B.C. money laundering report out, but final inquiry results will be delayed
Commissioner Austin Cullen listens to introductions before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver, on February 24, 2020. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
VANCOUVER -- The commissioner of the British Columbia public inquiry into money laundering says his final report will be delayed beyond the original May 2021 deadline.
British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen has released an interim report detailing the progress of the inquiry since hearings started last October, but he says he needs more time beyond the May 15 deadline set to release recommendations to the B.C. government.
Cullen says in a statement the broad range of the issues being addressed, the length of the hearings, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and challenges obtaining documents are all responsible for the delay.
The New Democrat government established the inquiry in May 2019 after reports outlined the extent of illegal cash at casinos and the impact of laundered money on the high price of real estate.
The inquiry has heard testimony from two former police officers who say their concerns about organized criminals and illegal cash at casinos were not properly addressed.
Attorney General David Eby says in a statement he's concerned about the commissioner's ongoing problems getting co-operation from the federal government.
Eby says he's most troubled by the apparent failure of Fintrac, the federal anti-money-laundering agency, to share what it knows with the commission about what is happening in British Columbia.
“I never expected anything but full co-operation from Canada's only major anti-money-laundering agency. To have anything short of that, given the agency's stated mandate, is surprising and inexcusable,” Eby says in the statement.
Cullen's interim report says the commission will strive to uncover the nature and scope of money laundering in B.C. and make recommendations to ensure those involved in the fight against the crime have the tools they need.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 10, 2020.