FAQs

The FAQs will be updated as needed over the coming months. Please check back often for additional information.

Why are the hearings being held online/via video conference and not in a hearing room?

The decision was made to hold the hearings online/via video conference in order to lessen the risk of the transmission of COVID-19. They run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, with a break or two partway through the hearing time.

The hearings are being livestreamed and can be viewed by members of the public on the Commission’s website here. The livestream provides the ability for British Columbians from around the province to watch the hearings.

Video archives of the hearings can be found here. It takes approximately 48 hours from the end of the hearing for the video archive to be reviewed and uploaded to the website.

The daily hearing time/length – 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – seems to be shorter than if the hearings were being held in person in a courtroom. Why is that?

In fact, the hearings that are being held online via video conference are similar in length to those held in a courtroom. The Cullen Commission hearings start at 9:30 a.m. each day and are scheduled until 1:30 p.m., but often run until 2 or sometimes 2:30. The hearings run straight through, with (usually) only one 10- or 15-minute break. As a comparison, the British Columbia Supreme Court sits from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., with a morning and afternoon break, which totals four hours of court time. While the Commission’s hearings are compressed, we are sitting for the equivalent of a regular court day.

The start and end times of the hearings were decided upon by the Commissioner, with guidance from Senior Commission Counsel and the input of participants. It is important to note that not only is this schedule designed to cover ground efficiently, it must take into account considerations as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The start and end times also accommodate witnesses in other time zones across Canada and around the world who participate via video conference.

The Commission continues to receive substantial quantities of documents, and as often occurs in a mega-trial, the Commission lawyers and staff are working long days, nights and weekends – even with the focussed hearing schedule.

What are the areas being covered by the hearings?

The main hearings, at which Commission Counsel plan to address specific issues*, include:

  • Gaming, casinos, horseracing
  • Real estate
  • Professional services, including accounting and legal
  • Corporate sector
  • Financial institutions and money services
  • Luxury goods
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Cash-based businesses
  • Trade-based money laundering
  • Other sectors
  • Asset recovery
  • Enforcement and regulation
  • Government response
  • Other jurisdictions’ approaches

* These topics are not necessarily listed in sequence, and this hearing plan is subject to variation. Information about the dates on which specific topics will be addressed in the hearings will be posted here on the Commission website.

How can I see who is testifying on what day?

To see the hearing schedule and witness list, please go here.

When are you going to announce high-profile witnesses?

The Commission is committed to being open and transparent, and all Commission witnesses are announced in as timely a manner as possible. Creating the schedule for witness testimony is a complex process that involves multiple people including witnesses, participants, their legal counsel, and Commission Counsel and staff — and as such, the hearings schedule and witness list are subject to change.

Why haven’t you announced the entire witness list from start to finish? The schedule seems to come out a week at a time.

There are multiple participants, their legal counsel, witnesses and other stakeholders who must be considered when developing the hearing schedule and witness list. In addition, as new evidence or information emerges through the research and investigations being undertaken by the Commission team, new witnesses are being identified and are being added to the schedule.

This is a complex initiative that involves multiple people and it takes time to develop a hearing schedule that works for everyone involved. It is important to note that the hearings schedule and witness list are subject to change. It is not possible for the Commission to announce a complete A-to-Z witness list because the process is ongoing and changes are often made. But as soon as the Commission has settled on its upcoming witnesses, that information is conveyed to the public.

Why do exhibits and other documents take so long to upload to the Commission website?

The Commission is committed to being open and transparent. Within that, we must also ensure that we protect the privacy and confidentiality of some individuals and information, and that can take additional time. In fact, the Commissioner’s Ruling #13 (Application for Directions Regarding Redactions) requires that the participants and Commission follow a mandated process for redacting information. That process relies on identified participants (the document holder or, in some cases, the participant who used/introduced the exhibit) to make the redactions. This can take additional time.

The Commission team is working to make this process as streamlined as possible so that the exhibits and other documents can be uploaded within 24 hours, but we also need to make sure that they are properly redacted.

Some of the witnesses don’t show their face — they appear in silhouette on the webcast. Why is that?

In Ruling #12 (Application for Witness Accommodation), the Commissioner outlined his reasons for allowing a few specific witnesses — who applied for witness accommodation measures — to provide testimony using silhouettes for their testimony.

When are the public hearings?

Please look at our Hearings Schedule for dates, times, and locations of all our public hearings.

What is a participant?

For the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, a “participant” is a special term with a meaning under the provincial Public Inquiry Act that goes beyond the everyday meaning of the word. The legislation uses the word “participant” to describe someone who would usually be considered a “party” in litigation — that is, someone who is granted standing and who can have a lawyer involved in the trial or hearing. The Act describes a “participant” as someone whose interests may be affected by the findings of the Commission, who may further the conduct of the Inquiry, and/or a person who would contribute to the fairness of the Inquiry.

This means that when a person, organization or group is granted participant status, they can be involved in the Inquiry in a number of ways. While different participants will be involved in different ways, in general terms, participants will have access to documents and materials that are assembled by the Commission, they will be able to ask questions of witnesses, they can propose certain topics and witnesses for the hearings, and they can make opening and closing submissions. These are just a few examples of how participants are involved in an inquiry.

Can someone without participant status provide information to the Commission?

Absolutely. Being granted standing as a participant is one way to provide information to the Commission. However, a person or organization need not be a formal “participant” to share information or engage with our work. For instance, a person may be called as a “witness” or asked to speak to Commission Counsel as a subject matter expert in order to assist the Commission in understanding detailed or technical issues. The Commission has stated that it welcomes information and input from people, and this can be done by emailing: contact@cullencommission.ca.

What is the difference between a participant and a witness?

A “participant” is someone who has been granted standing by Commissioner Cullen, as described in the question above, What is a participant?

A “witness” is someone who is called to testify during the public hearing component of the process. Much like a court case, a witness would be questioned while under oath or solemn affirmation. For the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, being called as a witness means that Commission Counsel feels that a person has knowledge about a specific matter related to the Inquiry. Witnesses are questioned by Commission Counsel as well as by counsel for participants.

The terms “participant” and “witness” are different, but they may overlap. A person may be a participant and may also testify, making them a witness as well. Many witnesses will testify without being participants. (Some witnesses may have counsel without becoming formal participants.)

The term “witness” refers to anyone who steps into the witness box and gives evidence under oath before the Commissioner in the public hearings.

Does being called as a witness mean that you are the subject of some sort of criminal investigation or that the Commission thinks you did something wrong?

No. Within the context of this Commission, being called as a witness means that Commission Counsel believes the person has knowledge about a specific matter relevant to the Inquiry.

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia has very specific Terms of Reference. Our role is not to undertake a criminal investigation. If, during the course of delivering on our mandate, we discover criminal acts, we would refer those to the police or Crown Counsel.

How would an average person with information that would be of interest to the Commission contact you?

You can email us at contact@cullencommission.ca. We encourage those who feel that they have information that falls within the mandate of this Commission to contact us.

What happens when someone contacts you with information, is their name kept confidential?

A person’s name and other personal information will only be released publicly following consultation with the submitter.

Who will be called as witnesses?

This is currently being determined.

When will you announce who will be called as witnesses?

We will post the list of anticipated witnesses on the website when determined, and before the expected date of testimony.

I can’t come to Vancouver, but want to see the hearings – how can I do that?

The hearings will be webcast on this website. We will also post transcripts of hearings and the exhibits filed within a few days of the hearing.