The money laundering accusations in British Columbia are growing. Now, a former British Columbia RCMP officer has testified that in 2009, he learned that Rich Coleman, the then-minister responsible for gaming, was “largely responsible” for rampant money laundering.
This illegal activity is apparently related to organized crime in the province’s casinos. Were senior B.C. Mounties were complicit?
According to Fred Pinnock, former commander of B.C.’s anti-illegal gaming unit, speaking before the Cullen Commission, then-solicitor general, Kash Heed made allegations against Coleman during a private meeting back in 2009.
Pinnock thought that the situations was “out of control” and tried to expand his unit’s mandate and resources to attack the “gangs” in BC Lottery Corporation casinos. It was so bad that he took a medical leave late in 2007.
“I felt it was a charade and I don’t feel my superiors cared. Public
safety was not a priority of my superiors with respect to gaming.”
His former unit was disbanded by the B.C. Liberal government in 2008. His protests fell on deaf ears.
Pinnock followed up by providing an interview to a B.C. media outlet in 2009. He accused the RCMP and B.C.’s government of “willful blindness” to increasing gang activity in Lottery Corp. casinos.
He subsequently met with Heed in Victoria.
“I told him that Rich Coleman knows what’s going on inside those casinos. Kash
Heed confirmed my perception…he did feel that Rich Coleman had created this.
Furthermore, according to Pinnock, Heed claimed that Coleman had “received the tacit support” of senior B.C.
Mounties. Pinnock said that this was a game being played by senior police officers. The term used was by Heed was that RCMP leaders are “puppets” for Coleman.
Heed said the RCMP leaders included Gary Bass, then-deputy commissioner for western Canada, and Dick Bent, Pinnock’s direct supervisor. Pinnock acknowledged that he did not seek to question the RCMP officers named. Pinnock also said that he has not questioned Coleman about the allegations and had only met with him once since in 2010 at a B.C. Liberal fundraiser.
Coleman had previously denied allegations that he turned a blind eye to crime in B.C. casinos.
Allegedly, a number of “foundational” RCMP memos claim that Pinnock’s former anti-illegal gaming unit had a mandate to tackle organized crime and money laundering in Lottery Corp. casinos.
Pinnock apparently only received notice to only focus on illegal casinos in general and not on gangs.
“We were not welcome in those environments. In practice, we were
not expected to have any presence in those locations.”
A gap in the enforcement of money laundering was widened when in 2009 when the anti-illegal gaming unit was disbanded.
Nonetheless, Pinnock said that massive cash transactions were already well known in Vancouver casinos. An inquiry started in 2012 to pursue the matter.
Why then did Lottery Corp. staff allow “VIP” gamblers, allowed to bend the rules. They were getting a cash infusion from a large network of loan sharks. Oversight over the years was caused by the need to protect the significant casino revenue brought in.
Several front-line Lottery Corp. investigators revealed that they were ordered not to question the VIPs because one casino complained they were intervening.