Former cabinet minister says B.C. Liberal government took money laundering seriously

·1 min read

VANCOUVER — A former finance minister says piling up gaming profits at the B.C. Lottery Corp. did not take priority ahead of growing concerns about money laundering at provincial casinos.

Mike de Jong told a public inquiry today that serious efforts were made to understand and address the issue of money laundering at casinos.

De Jong, who was responsible for gaming from 2013 to 2017, says he never heard or saw anything to suggest people purposely failed to intervene or chose to look away from the money laundering issue.

He told the Cullen commission he realized the extent to which large amounts of suspicious cash was being seen at casinos in the fall of 2015, and he knew more had to be done to address the problem.

The public inquiry has heard testimony from gaming investigators who suspected organized crime groups were providing large cash loans to casino patrons as part of a money laundering scheme.

The government appointed B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen in May 2019 to lead the public inquiry into money laundering after three reports outlined how hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash affected B.C.'s real estate, luxury vehicle and gaming sectors.

The B.C. government granted the commission an extension in March to produce its final report, which is now due on Dec. 15.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press