Images that kick-started the money laundering scandal included bags of money, containing tens of thousands of dollars, dumped at a casino.

Now the B.C. government is taking action.

“The Minister of Finance and the Attorney General have just left cabinet where we have agreed to pass the appropriate orders to hold a public inquiry into gaming and money laundering,” Eby announced Wednesday.

The inquiry is sparked by a set of explosive reports showing wide-scale laundering not only in the province’s gaming sector, but also luxury cars, and real estate. Five billion in criminal activity added five percent to the price of a house in 2018. BC Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen will head the inquiry.

“We are done with asking nicely. Today our government has given Justice Cullen the authority to do more than ask for voluntary participation. We have given him all the powers to compel testimony and gather evidence that his new office as commissioner allows,” Eby said.

Since 2000, revenue to the province from gaming and real estate grew more than 300 per cent, a reason why the government maybe didn’t act sooner.

“It became a gravy train and I think one of the possible outcomes of a public inquiry will show that money became very attractive to the government,” Dermod Travis from Integrity BC said.

So far, politicians from all political stripes are on-side with the inquiry.

“We really need to get to the bottom of this. And the only way you can do this is through the power of subpoena, which will ensure that people can’t hide behind anonymity or just refuse to testify. So we think this is a good job,” BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said.

Former Solicitor General Rich Coleman says he’ll testify if asked.

“We’ll finally get past this innuendo and accusation, and let’s down to some facts,” Coleman said.

The final report will be delivered by May 2021, just six months before the next provincial election.

 

Mary Griffin