B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver says Global News reports showing money laundering in B.C. casinos goes back to the NDP governments of the 1990s are yet another sign a public inquiry into the issue is needed.
“What is most troubling is how this has been going on for so long in British Columbia with so little oversight and so little attention given to it,” Weaver said.
“There is no one person to blame. There are a multitude of issues here. And that will never get solved by a piece here and a piece there.”
WATCH HERE: Ex-B.C. casino worker blows whistle on timeline of alleged money laundering
The Green Party has been calling for a public inquiry for months, and Weaver says the party will continue to put pressure on the government.
“The article I read by Sam Cooper was very troubling,” Weaver said.
“I think more than ever we need a public inquiry. You will find our caucus will start raising this issue more and more over the next few days. We are getting troubled about the lack of movement on this issue.”
The B.C. government is expected to make a decision on the public inquiry by the end of May. The provincial cabinet is still reviewing the Mahoney Report and the German Report, both looking into money laundering in the Metro Vancouver housing market.
Premier John Horgan says he has not yet seen the latest report from Global News. He says his government is taking the issue seriously and is looking forward, not back.
“I think that what we need to do is stamp it out. We’ve taken steps, based on Peter German’s first report, to clean up the casino sector, but there’s much more work to do, and I just don’t know what the value is of going back two, three decades — or two decades, in this case — and saying, ‘Hey, that’s where it started,'” Horgan said.
WATCH HERE: Casino whistleblower’s documents suggest B.C.’s government opened the door to rampant money laundering
Horgan was responding to allegations brought forward by Muriel Labine, a former employee of the Great Canadian Gaming casino in Richmond, B.C. She was a dealer supervisor, monitoring the integrity of the gambling happening around her, and had hoped to work for Great Canadian until she retired.
Labine says that in May 1997, following the NDP government increasing bet limits from $25 to $500 per hand, there was a marked increase in VIP gamblers and high rollers coming into the casinos.
Current NDP Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth was the minister in charge of gaming in 1997.
“One of the reasons changes were taking place was because so many people were going to Washington state to play. And it was obviously, you know, we want to keep them,” Farnworth said.
“At that time we put in place the regulations that we felt were appropriate based on the best advice that we had at that time. Do I have a responsibility for those? Absolutely.”
WATCH (aired February 26): Green party calls for public inquiry into money laundering scandal
Horgan says there has been a huge public push for a public inquiry, and his cabinet has been carefully considering the two reports put forward. He said he doesn’t think the NDP’s involvement taints the work government is doing.
“We want to see accountability and consequences for the actions. And the absence of prosecutions has been a big, big issue,” Horgan said.
“That really is what upset the apple cart in our terms of what do we need to do as a government last fall, when the prosecutions were thrown out that we expected would lead to convictions.”
B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson blames the lack of prosecutions on the current government. It has long been argued that widespread money laundering took off under the Liberals’ watch and there were no prosecutions under their watch either.
“British Columbians want to see prosecutions,” Wilkinson said.
“A public inquiry won’t lead to prosecutions. Let’s find the bad guys, prosecute them and hopefully put them in jail. There has been a lot of talk and not a lot of action. We have seen all these stories put out by the NDP and there have been no results. It’s time for results.”
—With files from Sam Cooper and John Hua
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