Rich Coleman, British Columbia ex-gaming minister testified in light of the ongoing inquiry into money laundering. During his testimony, he rejected claims for neglecting money laundering investigations over casino revenue. Furthermore, Coleman deemed those allegations ridiculous and stressed that such a thing has never happened.
BC’s Money Laundering Inquiry Continues, Ex-cabinet Minister Testifies
Rich Coleman, a former British Columbia cabinet minister, rejected allegations for neglecting money laundering investigations over casino revenue. In light of the ongoing public inquiry into money laundering in BC, on Wednesday, he spoke with the counsel for the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Brock Martland.
During a four-hour testimony, Coleman rejected any claims that he ignored money laundering for the benefit of the government. Furthermore, he deemed those claims as “ridiculous” and said that such a thing has “never happened”. Although Coleman is retired from politics, he was responsible for gambling and enforcement on multiple occasions between 2001 and 2013.
Furthermore, he served a key role in the gambling expansion which was initiated by the BC Liberal government in 2001. Since 2001, for approximately 15 years, an estimate of $100 million is suspected to have been laundered in BC alone. This makes Coleman a prime witness in the ongoing money laundering inquiry.
IIGET’s Disbandment Remains Controversial
Back in 2004, the RCMP’s Anti-Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET) was created. IIGET’s main purpose was to investigate casinos and poker rooms operating illegally. Although the unit operated for five years, RCMP eventually reduced its personnel. Consequently, Coleman took a controversial decision to disband IIGET.
Fred Pinnock, who was formerly in charge of IIGET, testified last year in November. He claimed that in 2009, he wanted to meet with Colman and discuss the growing organized crime that was going “out-of-control“. Furthermore, Pinnock claimed that Kash Heed, who served as solicitor general back in 2009, told him that Coleman purposefully looked the other way and that “it’s all about the money“.
Coleman Rejects Pinnock’s Claims
However, Coleman rejected Pinnock’s claims, saying that IIGET was disbanded because it wasn’t as successful as expected. Furthermore, he disagreed with the claims that he looked the other way because of money. Coleman recollected that he did not meet Pinnock in person back in 2009, because he believed that this way he may be overstepping the rights which he had as a minister.
Additionally, Coleman said there was a board that was in place to help determine the faith of IIGET. With that in mind, he stressed that he had a “professional working relationship” with the management at RCMP. Furthermore, Coleman pointed out that “there is no way” he could have manipulated them in any way.
The commission’s inquiry into this matter does not seek liability, nor is authorized to administer any convictions. Instead, the inquiry will present recommendations and its final report is expected to be issued by December 15 this year.