NEW Democrat MLA Ravi Kahlon (Delta North) said on Wednesday that the previous B.C. Liberal government did nothing to effectively crack down on money laundering allegations in B.C. casinos. He said that they even dismantled the Illegal Gambling Enforcement Team despite suspicious financial transactions in casinos growing to peak levels of roughly $20 million per month in 2015.
Kahlon’s comments followed the release of an independent report commissioned by the Attorney General that showed large-scale money laundering has been occurring in B.C. casinos, and that the previous BC Liberal government didn’t do anything to effectively address it.
Kahlon said that in 2009, BC Liberal MLA Rich Coleman became the Solicitor General, and one of his earliest acts was to dismantle the Illegal Gambling Enforcement Team, despite money laundering already being a significant concern in B.C. casinos.
In 2013, Mike de Jong was the B.C. Liberal Finance Minister, and despite the ministry received increasing reports of suspicious transactions, none of it resulted in charges or prosecutions.
Kahlon said there are multiple questions that the B.C. Liberals have never adequately answered, including why they pulled apart enforcement as things were getting worse. “Why did Rich Coleman and the B.C. Liberals dismantle the enforcement team as reports of suspicious activity were increasing, and why didn’t they do anything substantial to make up for the gap in the years following?” he asked.
Kahlon noted: “This is a serious issue that the former B.C. Liberal government never seemed to take seriously. Even as the RCMP released a report raising the alarm about possible links to transnational drug trafficking and terrorist financing, the B.C. Liberals never took effective steps to crack down, or undo the damage caused when they dismantled the enforcement team.”
In his report, Peter German said the problem amounted to a collective system failure where “nobody said no” to the growing problem.
“The new New Democrat government has done more in the first 11 months in office to crack down on suspicious activity than the previous government did in their entire 16 years,” said Kahlon.