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'Let's get down to some facts': Former Solicitor General welcomes money laundering inquiry

Last Updated May 15, 2019 at 4:29 pm PDT

FILE -- Former Solicitor General, Rick Coleman, talks to reporters after BC NDP government announced public inquiry into money laundering. (NEWS 1130 Photo, Liza Yuzda)

"Just wanna get past some of this innuendo and accusation and let's get down to some facts," says Rich Coleman

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West elated to see public inquiry announced, saying many questions to be answered

Political Scientist says feds have role to play in public inquiry into money laundering in BC

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The former interim leader of the BC Liberal Party, who was once responsible for B.C.’s gaming industry, is happy a public inquiry into money laundering has been announced.

“Just wanna get past some of this innuendo and accusation and let’s get down to some facts,” Rich Coleman says, adding he’ll make himself available to the inquiry.

He’s confident about his actions when he was Solicitor General, like creating the Gaming Control Act, and says massive increases in revenue under his watch wasn’t unexpected.

“When I became the minister in 2001 there was maybe only 300 slots in BC River Rock wasn’t actually built as the first major casino in BC probably until the end of my term as solicitor general. So obviously then you had other casinos built so so you did have a growth in size of the industry and you did have difference in revenue.”

BC Liberals have been criticized for seemingly not taking action on money laundering. The party says the inquiry shouldn’t slow the government’s response to the washing of dirty money in the province.

“Now that the NDP has decided to proceed with a public inquiry into money laundering, John Horgan and his Attorney General must also commit to ensuring that while the lengthy inquiry process unfolds, the top priority is to prosecute and put the criminals who commit these crimes in jail as soon as possible- so that British Columbians can have confidence that our criminal justice system is working,” says a statement from MLA Michael Lee, BC Liberal Attorney General Critic.

It’s a good step forward

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, who’s been outspoken in his support of a public inquiry, is elated something will be done to stop BC from being a dirty money dumping ground.

“It’s a good step forward. The real important piece now is going to be making sure that this inquiry has the powers and the people responsible for it, to be able to go and get the job done,” he says.

He says there are a lot of unanswered questions.

“Who’s responsible? Who was involved? Who made decisions? Who ignored warnings? Who’s responsible for turning a blind eye that allowed this garbage to continue for so long?”

He’d like to see the inquiry work with prosecutors to ensure people are held accountable at the end.

WATCH: Report: $5 billion laundered in B.C.’s real estate sector

Federal government has a role to play

David Moscrop, a political scientist, says the federal government does have a role to play in the public inquiry into money laundering in BC.

“The federal government has a role to play here in at least two areas of concern. One is across provincial borders because we know that this isn’t just a British Columbia problem. We’ve learned recently it’s a massive Alberta problem and it’s an Ontario problem too at least,” he says.

“And of course across international borders, because we know a lot of this is driven by China. So the federal government might be a little bit gun shy and will have a sort of attitude towards what role they ought to play but the fact is that at the end of the day they ought to be involved in one way or another.”

RELATED: Luxury car sales in B.C. used to launder money, according to review

He says the federal liberals should be careful, noting a lack of support into the inquiry could cost them valuable votes come the October election.

“The probability that someone is going to vote on this issue alone, especially when it comes to the federal government is very, very low, nonetheless, it can contribute towards an impression, and that impression might be that the liberals are out of touch, they don’t care, they don’t want to be tough on crime.”