There are other, more pressing issues for British Columbians to focus on right now. So when BC Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen delivers a report to the provincial government by December 15, there will be little fanfare. And then there is the holiday season, along with the inevitable increase in COVID cases to propel us into the new year.
However, soon after, Canadians will hear the results of the most comprehensive money laundering investigation ever conducted in this country.
Since its inception in May 2019, calculus commission Held hearing sessions over 138 days, heard the testimonies of 198 witnesses, and received 1,063 performances. It has attempted to understand how widespread money from the drug trade has affected BC’s economy, and more specifically how international criminal gangs try to launder that money through Lower Mainland casinos, real estate, and luxury cars. A method has been created.
It is not an exaggeration to say that one person made the investigation possible, and this is not commissioner calculus. Ross Alderson was an investigator initially for Vancouver’s River Rock Casino, and then for the British Columbia Lottery Corporation which controls the casino.
From his first day at work he was shocked by the amount of twenty dollar bills being used mostly by mainland Chinese gamblers.
As he told W5 in February 2019: “There were people coming in with ten thousand, twenty thousand, a million, two hundred thousand,” Ross explained. “I mean, at one point there was a loan of half a million dollars in cash.”
It was Alderson’s job to report suspicious transactions to regulators, which he did. But he took it a step further. A former police officer in Melbourne, Australia, Alderson began sharing information with the local RCMP, who were investigating links that piled up twenty dollar bills into an underground bank in Richmond BC and the international drug trade.
And then he took it a step further. Frustrated by the lack of action to stop as a city steeped in dirty money, Alderson became an important anonymous source for Vancouver newspaper reporter Sam Cooper.
As he testified at the commission: “So did I leak the information to the media? yes i did But would I do it again? Yes I am.”
Alderson ended his anonymity when he agreed to be interviewed by W5 in 2019 as part of an investigation into BC’s money laundering problems. He told us he was hoping the coverage would convince B.C.’s government to launch a commission of inquiry, which he did in a few months. After the W5 program aired.
Yet when Alderson finally testified in September, he was a reluctant witness. He had already paid a heavy price for trying to shame politicians, and he did not want to bear any more.
Unable to find solid work in Canada after resigning from BCLC, Alderson moved with his family to Australia, where the severe COVID lockdown restricted his ability to look for jobs. He eventually agreed to testify when other witnesses questioned his credibility on the conversations he alleged he had with them.
He had supplied the commission with documents and offered to be interviewed before leaving Canada, but commission attorney Patrick McGowan spent most of his examination of Alderson with questions about whether he was trying to avoid speaking. , rather than what he says. He saw her go.
Several trialled exchanges by lawyers representing others, culminated in a bizarre cross-examination by a lawyer representing an alleged loan shark, accusing Alderson of breaking the law by speaking to reporters.
It will be up to Commissioner Cullen to decide whether the law was broken by alerting journalists to the scope of money laundering. There are no protections in BC for whistleblowers who leak documents to the media.
But in addition to the sheer level of suspicious gambling transactions flowing through an underground bank the RCMP raided in Richmond (estimated by the police force at over $1 billion per year), the commission would risk misfiring on the messenger of criminality. , and not the offender himself.
Neighboring Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West believes there is a lot at stake in what Commissioner Cullen tells the B.C. government:
“If there is no criminal accountability that stems from this,” he told W5 in an interview, “the message would be sent that British Columbia remains a place where you can come from all over the world and engage in illegal activity. And don’t face any consequences.”
‘The Laundromat: Inquiry’ airs Saturdays at 7 pm on Granthshala. It will also be available on Official W5 Channel on YouTube