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Money laundering fallout not expected to hurt former gaming minister

Last Updated Jun 29, 2018 at 4:21 pm PDT

FILE (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Rich Coleman may want to run to become Surrey's next mayor but he's being linked to a scandal

Lack of comment on money laundering from potential Surrey mayor candidate won't hurt his chances, says expert

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) -The former cabinet minister accused of turning a blind eye to money laundering in BC casinos has yet to break his silence and face the public.

Rich Coleman, the long-time MLA for Langley-East who was in charge of gaming for several years, has indicated he’s interested in becoming Surrey’s next mayor.

He has been ducking reporters since Wednesday when we learned the former BC Liberal government failed to crack down after investigators tracked numerous suspicious transactions.

SFU Political Scientist David Moscrop doesn’t think this will hurt Coleman if he decides to seek the mayor’s chair in Surrey.

“I don’t think it’s going to torpedo his career. He’s liked by the people who like him and they really like him. Thirty per cent of American voters like [Donald] Trump, no matter what. There’s a certain percentage of voters in Surrey who are going to like Rich Coleman no matter what. That’s just baked in. That’s just part of politics.”

Moscrop adds Coleman has a strong following, so he has good reason not to talk about his government’s failure to crack down on dirty money in this province that in a report earlier this week, linked it money laundering to high real estate prices and the opioid crisis.

“Strategically, it’s often pretty sound. In fact, one of the smarter things to do in politics is if you can wait for it to go away, then wait for it to go away and I think that’s probably what he’s doing and… ethically, it’s super dubious, dodgy but politically, probably the smart thing to do. Incidentally by the way, it also makes him guilty as sin.”

Since the money laundering report came out on Wednesday, both Coleman and former Finance Minister Mike de Jong have not been available to media.

Meantime, BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says he doesn’t feel heads should roll but feels the province should focus on fixing things and putting criminal in jail.

He stresses the Liberal government of the day did not ignore or suppress serious money laundering allegations. Earlier this week, the former governing party claimed they knew about money laundering issues but were advised by police not to say anything.