A former local government minister was ‘largely responsible’ for money laundering by organised crime groups being rampant throughout casinos in the western Canadian province, British Columbia and an official inquiry has reportedly been told.
Fred Pinnock previously commanded an anti-illegal gambling unit within the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) according to a Thursday report from the Canadian Global Television Network and testified that in 2007 he had attempted to expand the mandate and resources of the detachment in order to counter money laundering that he believed to be ‘out of control’ within British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BC) casinos.
The former policeman, however, reportedly told the Cullen Commission inquiry that his superiors and their partners in the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch of the government did not support his goals and had later completely disbanded his unit. In addition, Pinnock allegedly testified that ‘public safety was not a gaming priority of my superiors’ and that efforts within British Columbia casinos to stamp out money laundering had largely been ‘a charade’.
The Canadian Global Television Network reported that Pinnock also testified that when trying to express his concerns to the provincial minister who was in charge of gaming policy at the time, Rich Coleman, he was later repeatedly rebuffed. He allegedly stated that even a former girlfriend, former Liberal Party legislator Naomi Yamamoto, had been admonished by the then Solicitor General in front of a party gathering after she had passed on a message about the situation.
Pinnock allegedly told the inquiry that “It was in a group setting and she described his reaction as brutal and dismissive and embarrassing. And my conclusion is he did not want to be told about casino concerns.”
In addition, Pinnock allegedly told the review that he was growing dissatisfied with the lack of a crack-down on money laundering and wanted to set up a private meeting with Coleman ‘s successor, former Solicitor General Kash Heed. He reportedly claimed that this 2009 get-together had resulted in him being told that the entire matter was ‘a game being played by senior police officers’ and that Coleman’ enjoyed the implicit support ‘of senior figures within the RCMP and was used as’ puppets ‘by the Liberal Party stalwart.
Pinnock reportedly told the Cullen Commission: “I told him I am convinced that Rich Coleman knows what’s going on inside those casinos and Kash Heed confirmed my perception that I was accurate in my belief and he did feel that Rich Coleman had created this. He said to me, in effect, ‘that is what is going on, Fred, but I can’t say that publicly. You know, it’s all about the money’.”
The Canadian Global Television Network confirmed that before the ongoing investigation, Coleman had not yet testified, but previously dismissed claims that he had turned a blind eye to money laundering in casinos in British Columbia. Pinnock reportedly told the review, however, that the conspiracy applied to Gary Bass, the former Deputy Commissioner for the Pacific Area of the RCMP, as well as to Chief Superintendent Dick Bent, his own direct supervisor.