Former Gaming Minister, Senior RCMP Caused ‘Tsunami’ of Money Laundering in BC Casinos, Cullen Commission Hears

December 1, 2020 Updated: December 2, 2020

Former British Columbia gaming minister Rich Coleman and senior RCMP officers caused a “tsunami” of casino money laundering, said the province’s former solicit-general, according to a transcript of a Cullen Commission public inquiry.

The statement was made by Kash Heed, the former B.C. Minister of Public Safety and solicitor-general, in a July 2018 phone call with Fred Pinnock, the former officer-in-charge of the RCMP Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET).

“The minute you pulled IIGET, the minute, I said, [redacted] started to raise some concerns about of what is going on and telling what is going on in the casino, in wanting the positions filled—to their capacity, all of a sudden the unit’s pulled,” said Heed.

“It’s ridiculous what’s going on with these guys here,” he said. “They’re the most unethical group of people you can imagine. And then Coleman, Coleman was all part of it. It’s their network that caused this tsunami to take place in the casinos.”

In a 2009 report, the IIGET alleged that the B.C. Lottery Corporation casinos had been used as a circuit for drug dealing and money laundering, reported Global News. But three months after the report was released, the anti-illicit gaming unit was defunded and disbanded by the provincial government.

Pinnock testified on Nov. 5 that there was “an escalating level of criminal activity,” including loan sharking and money laundering, as well as an increased gangster-related activities within B.C. casinos.

The Cullen Commission was established in May 2019, mandated to investigate “the extent, growth, evolution and methods of money laundering in British Columbia.” The commission has heard testimony of three recorded conversations between Pinnock and Heed—marked as exhibits 163, 164, 269 on its website.

In the Nov. 6, testimony (pdf), Pinnock told senior commission counsel Patrick McGowan that he had secretly recorded the conversations with Heed, so as “to secure and preserve any evidence relating to these matters.”

During a discussion over lunch in September 2018, Pinnock and Heed agreed that the senior Mounties had been operating like the “mafia.” They alleged that senior RCMP leaders were engaged in sexual harassment and workplace harassment, but were never held accountable for that.

Coleman, however, has characterized Pinnock’s audio recordings as “scurrilous gossip regarding dozens of individuals” which should be removed entirely as evidence, wrote Commissioner Austin Cullen in his ruling (pdf).

Coleman told Global News, through his lawyer, that he will not comment on the evidence provided in the public inquiry until he testifies next year.