Media

Witness Schedule – May/June 2020 Hearings

May 15, 2020

Cullen Commission Set to Hold May/June Hearings
Via Videoconferencing

Witness Schedule – May/June 2020 Hearings

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

Week 1: May 25-May 29

Stephen Schneider

Stephen Schneider

Stephen Schneider

Simon Lord

Simon Lord

Week 2: June 1-June 5

Oliver Bullough

Oliver Bullough

William Gilmore

William Gilmore

Michael Levi, Peter Reuter

Week 3: June 8-June 12

Michael Levi, Peter Reuter

Chief Superintendent Robert Gilchrist, Inspector Leslie Stevens, Ryland Wellwood

Chief Superintendent Robert Gilchrist, Inspector Leslie Stevens, Ryland Wellwood

Mark Sieben, Chris Dawkins, Megan Harris

Mark Sieben, Chris Dawkins, Megan Harris

Week 4: June 15-June 19

Sir Robert Wainwright

Sir Robert Wainwright

This schedule may be adjusted.

Below are brief bio notes on the witnesses scheduled to give evidence at the May/June hearings:

  • Professor Stephen Schneider from St. Mary's University, Halifax. Professor Schneider is a criminologist whose research has focused on areas of organized crime, financial crimes and money laundering.
  • Simon Lord, senior officer and money laundering expert, National Crime Agency (UK). Mr. Lord has 30 years of experience investigating serious and complex crime, with the last 15 years dedicated to understanding and addressing money laundering.
  • Oliver Bullough, journalist and author of Moneyland: The Inside Story of the Crooks and Kleptocrats Who Rule the World.
  • Emeritus Professor William Gilmore, School of Law, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Professor Gilmore has an extensive background examining international anti-money laundering measures.
  • Professor Michael Levi, Cardiff University, has a distinguished track record of research and advisory work on topics including money laundering and transnational organized crime.
  • Professor Peter Reuter, University of Maryland School of Public Policy and Department of Criminology. Professor Reuter is an expert on illegal markets and organized crime policy.
  • RCMP Chief Superintendent Robert Gilchrist, director general of the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada.
  • Inspector Leslie Stevens, Criminal Intelligence Service British Columbia/Yukon Territory Bureau.
  • Ryland Wellwood, civilian member analyst, RCMP.
  • Mark Sieben, deputy solicitor general, BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
  • Chris Dawkins, executive lead, Finance Real Estate Data Analytics, BC Ministry of Finance.
  • Megan Harris, executive director and Anti-Money Laundering Secretariat lead, BC Ministry of Attorney General.
  • Sir Robert Wainwright, former executive director of Europol and partner with Deloitte based in the Netherlands.

Cullen Commission Set to Hold May/June Hearings Via Videoconferencing

For Immediate Release

May 13, 2020

Cullen Commission Set to Hold May/June Hearings
Via Videoconferencing

Vancouver, B.C. – The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia has announced that it will proceed with its scheduled evidence hearings in May and June, beginning on May 25, 2020. In order to lessen the risk of the transmission of COVID-19, the public hearings will be held via online videoconferencing using Microsoft Teams.

Over the past several weeks, the Commission team has run multiple mock hearings to test the process. The Commission’s staff and lawyers are confident in their ability to effectively hold the upcoming block of hearings by videoconference.

Given the current situation throughout the country, with schools closed and the majority of Canadians working from home, the Commissioner has adjusted the hours of the May-June hearings. They will run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, with a break or two partway through the hearing time.

Adjustments to the hearing plan have been made in response to the global pandemic and its impact on some participants and witnesses. At this time, it is expected that these hearings will take approximately three and a half weeks to complete. The bulk of the hearings will take place in early September, through the fall.

This hearing block will deal with an overview of the money laundering topic and regulatory models. This approach in using digital technology has allowed the Commission team to replicate a traditional courtroom hearing as closely as possible. In keeping with the Commissioner’s commitment to transparency and accessibility, the hearings will be livestreamed on the website (www.cullencommission.ca). Reports, documents and exhibits from the hearings will likewise be posted online.

Witness Schedule

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

Week 1: May 25-May 29

Stephen Schneider

Stephen Schneider

Stephen Schneider

Simon Lord

Simon Lord

Week 2: June 1-June 5

Oliver Bullough

Oliver Bullough

William Gilmore

William Gilmore

Michael Levi, Peter Reuter

Week 3: June 8-June 12

Michael Levi, Peter Reuter

Chief Superintendent Robert Gilchrist, Inspector Leslie Stevens, Ryland Wellwood

Chief Superintendent Robert Gilchrist, Inspector Leslie Stevens, Ryland Wellwood

Mark Sieben, Chris Dawkins, Megan Harris

Mark Sieben, Chris Dawkins, Megan Harris

Week 4: June 15-June 19

Sir Robert Wainwright

Sir Robert Wainwright

This schedule may be adjusted.

Below are brief bio notes on the witnesses scheduled to give evidence at the May/June hearings:

  • Professor Stephen Schneider from St. Mary's University, Halifax. Professor Schneider is a criminologist whose research has focused on areas of organized crime, financial crimes and money laundering.
  • Simon Lord, senior officer and money laundering expert, National Crime Agency (UK). Mr. Lord has 30 years of experience investigating serious and complex crime, with the last 15 years dedicated to understanding and addressing money laundering.
  • Oliver Bullough, journalist and author of Moneyland: The Inside Story of the Crooks and Kleptocrats Who Rule the World.
  • Emeritus Professor William Gilmore, School of Law, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Professor Gilmore has an extensive background examining international anti-money laundering measures.
  • Professor Michael Levi, Cardiff University, has a distinguished track record of research and advisory work on topics including money laundering and transnational organized crime.
  • Professor Peter Reuter, University of Maryland School of Public Policy and Department of Criminology. Professor Reuter is an expert on illegal markets and organized crime policy.
  • RCMP Chief Superintendent Robert Gilchrist, director general of the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada.
  • Inspector Leslie Stevens, Criminal Intelligence Service British Columbia/Yukon Territory Bureau.
  • Ryland Wellwood, civilian member analyst, RCMP.
  • Mark Sieben, deputy solicitor general, BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
  • Chris Dawkins, executive lead, Finance Real Estate Data Analytics, BC Ministry of Finance.
  • Megan Harris, executive director and Anti-Money Laundering Secretariat lead, BC Ministry of Attorney General.
  • Sir Robert Wainwright, former executive director of Europol and partner with Deloitte based in the Netherlands.

About the Commission

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia was announced on May 15, 2019 by Premier John Horgan. It is independent of government. Led by Commissioner Austin Cullen, a judge of the British Columbia Supreme Court, the Commission will look at the full scope of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions, and the corporate and professional sectors. The Commission will also examine regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities. Commissioner Cullen has the ability to compel witnesses and order the production of documents and records.

The Commission is required to deliver an interim report by November 15, 2020 and a final report by May 2021.

Statement of Commissioner Austin Cullen on the Impact of COVID-19

For Immediate Release

April 16, 2020

Statement of Commissioner Austin Cullen
on the Impact of COVID-19

COVID-19, the insidious disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has caused unprecedented change in all of our lives. That change has occurred in a sudden and remarkable fashion as this deadly virus continues to besiege our world causing turmoil and grief. The virus, and the public health measures taken to slow its spread, have had an immense impact throughout the province of British Columbia.

The purpose of this statement is to provide my update, as Commissioner, to the people of British Columbia about what COVID-19 means for the work of the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering.

When this Commission was formed on May 15, 2019, money laundering was viewed as a serious threat to the social and economic well-being of British Columbians. Since that time, the Commission has undertaken significant steps towards fulfilling its mandate of casting light on the problem of money laundering in British Columbia and of examining the various ways in which it has been either combatted or enabled.

Commission counsel have engaged with participants; interviewed many witnesses; engaged subject-matter experts to conduct research and analysis; sought the production of documents; and prepared for the hearings set to bring a broad array of information and evidence to the public’s attention. In the fall of 2019, we held public meetings in five locations around the province to hear directly from the people of British Columbia and earlier this year, we conducted initial public hearings during which the participants with standing gave opening submissions.

Dealing with the issue of money laundering — which the people of British Columbia have told us is important — continues to be a priority. However, it is also crucial that we acknowledge that, at this moment in time, we place it in the context of the social, economic and physical upheavals brought by the devastating spread of the COVID-19 virus since early 2020. At this point it is impossible to predict when the effects of the COVID-19 virus will subside, and when our social, economic and physical health will return to a state of equilibrium. There is, however, no doubt that this will happen, and we will return to a more familiar state of affairs.

In the meantime, the Commission continues with its work with such modifications and accommodations as are necessary to prioritize the health and safety of all involved, to comply with the recommendations of government and public health officials, and to be sensitive to the impact this virus is having on British Columbians. To that end, Commission lawyers and staff are working remotely from their homes. All contact with participants, lawyers, witnesses, experts, technicians and one another now takes place by telephone or videoconference. The Commission is in ongoing contact with those engaged with the Commission’s work, to ensure that their engagement does not put their health or well-being at risk.

Understandably, some participants have been unable to fully carry on in the face of the current necessary restrictions, and other critical demands on their attention and time. The Commission will work to ensure that no one who has sought and been granted participant status will be compromised in their ability to engage with the Inquiry, and advance or guard their interests or rights. Similarly, the Commission will ensure that no steps will be taken that may imperil others’ rights or interests, unless and until that person or agency is able to engage with the Commission as a participant or otherwise. In short, the Commission is committed to ensuring that although its work will continue as much as possible through this unsettled and challenging period, no one will be prejudiced as a result.

As matters currently stand, the hearings portion of the Inquiry is set in two blocks of time. The first is scheduled to start on May 25 and carry on until the end of June 2020. The second block of hearings will run from September 8 to December 18, 2020. We accept that it is not realistic or appropriate to conduct the initial May-June hearings with in-person attendance by witnesses, participants or their counsel or in a venue that is open to the public; those hearings will only proceed if we are able to conduct them remotely using videoconferencing technology able to link witnesses, participants, and Commission staff in a manner that sufficiently approximates a more conventional hearing and that provides access to the public. We are in the process of exploring options for proceeding with largely remote hearings. While our investigations of these technologies are ongoing, the initial indications are promising. It may also be necessary to modify the hours of sitting for the May-June hearing block to accommodate the needs of overseas witnesses (attending by video from abroad) and the childcare responsibilities of the participants and their lawyers as the hearings proceed.

The primary focus of the May-June hearings will not be fact finding in relation to acts or omissions of individuals or agencies that may have contributed to money laundering in British Columbia. This hearing block will, instead, provide an introduction to and an exploration of larger issues of money laundering — such as a review of typologies of money laundering; its history and evolution; how it is perceived and dealt with in other jurisdictions; and the issue of quantification (attempts to measure the extent of money laundering activity).

The Commission team is committed to moving forward in a responsible, safe and sensitive manner, always with a view to serving the public interest. We will continue to monitor developments and follow known health authority guidelines and to evaluate the propriety of our plans to conduct the initial May-June hearings remotely via video.

Our hope and our plan are to continue with our work, to adapt to circumstances that have changed profoundly, and to make use of videoconferencing technology that makes possible today what would have been unachievable just a decade ago. As we move forward, we will provide updates on our plans and decisions through our website.

My purpose in communicating with you at this time and in this way is to explain that although the Commission is continuing to fulfil its mandate through this very unsettled time, we are doing so in a manner that recognizes the overarching priority of the COVID-19 crisis and the need to fully support efforts to limit the spread of the virus. Our desire to proceed rests on the precept that in the fullness of time, the work we do now will benefit the social and economic well-being of the province.

Austin Cullen, Commissioner

Update Re: COVID-19 and May/June Hearing Block

For Immediate Release

April 2, 2020

Update Re: COVID-19 and May/June Hearing Block

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia continues to closely monitor the rapidly developing situation regarding COVID-19. Our priority is the health and safety of all Canadians including, of course, the Commission team, participants and their lawyers, and other stakeholders.

While the Commission’s physical office is closed to the public, the Commission has technology in place to allow us to continue to work towards fulfilling our mandate while supporting physical distancing. The Commission staff is working remotely, and all meetings are being held by video or telephone.

We are in an unprecedented time. While none of us know how long we may be required to keep physical distancing measures in place, it does appear from recent statements by government and health officials that it will be some time before the measures will be appreciably relaxed. Recognizing that, holding in-person hearings that are open to the public is unlikely to be viable in May and June. As such, the Commission team is working on options for holding the hearing block set for May 25 – June 26, 2020 using video conference technology in a manner that will be accessible to interested parties and the public.

We will provide updates about the format and viability of proceeding this way as we have them. Any decision regarding the hearings will, of course, be consistent with direction provided by provincial and federal health authorities.

The May 25 – June 26 hearings will deal with an overview of the money laundering topic and regulatory models, as well as explore the issue of the quantification of money laundering activity in British Columbia.

We will continue to work towards fulfilling our mandate, while at the same time complying with recommendations from both federal and provincial health authorities and prioritizing health and safety.

Cullen Commission Update on Response to COVID-19

For Immediate Release

March 16, 2020

Cullen Commission Update on Response to COVID-19

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia continues to closely monitor the rapidly developing situation regarding COVID-19. The health and safety of the Commission team, participants and their lawyers, and other stakeholders, including the public, is our priority.

Given recent guidance from the Federal and Provincial Governments and health authorities, the Commission staff is moving to do much of their work remotely – and the Commission’s physical office will be closed to the public. We have the necessary technology in place that allows us to continue with our work while supporting self-isolation and social distancing.

We will continue to work towards fulfilling our mandate, while at the same time complying with recommendations from both federal and provincial health authorities and prioritizing the health of Commission staff and all British Columbians.

We will continue to monitor developments and keep the public informed of any modifications to our process.

Statement from the Cullen Commission Re: COVID-19

For Immediate Release

March 13, 2020

Statement from the Cullen Commission Re: COVID-19

Along with the people of B.C., Canada and around the world, the team at the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia is closely monitoring the unfolding situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The health and safety of the Commission team, participants and their lawyers, those charged with managing operations at the hearing room and other stakeholders, including the public, is our priority.

At this time, the Commission’s work continues to move forward as expected. To ensure that we are prepared for what may be required at some point, we are in the process of identifying the options available to us should we need to revise some elements of our process.

We will follow the direction provided by the Provincial Health Services Authority, the Provincial Government and the Federal Government on this important health matter. We will act responsibly and with an abundance of caution, both as an organization and as individuals, keeping the overall health and safety of our team and the community at the forefront of any decisions that are made.

We will continue to monitor this situation and will email stakeholders directly affected by any decisions as well as post any updates on our website.

Thank you.

Participant Opening Statements

February 25, 2020

Participant Opening Statements

The opening statements of participants that have been provided to the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia can be found here.

They are located beside the participant names in the schedule. Opening statements are posted once the participant has presented at the hearing.

Please note: Not all participants provided a digital/electronic version of their opening statement to the Commission.

If you would like to see the opening statements being presented, please see our video archive here. Archived videos of the hearings are posted to this section in as timely a manner as possible.

Please note: The videos are edited ONLY to remove the time between the morning, lunch and afternoon breaks.

Appointment of Tam Boyar as Policy Counsel

For Immediate Release

January 13, 2020

Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia Announces Appointment of Tam Boyar as Policy Counsel

Vancouver, B.C. – The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia has appointed Vancouver-based lawyer Tam Boyar as policy counsel. Mr. Boyar will focus on research, analysis, writing, and coordinating the policy work undertaken by the Commission’s lawyers and contractors.

One of the co-founders of MacKay Boyar, Mr. Boyar brings extensive experience in a wide range of civil, criminal and administrative law matters, including proceedings before regulatory and administrative tribunals and professional discipline matters involving lawyers, police officers and other professionals. He obtained common law and civil law degrees from McGill University and served as a law clerk to the Honourable Justice Morris Fish at the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr. Boyar has argued cases at all levels of court in British Columbia, and recently acted for the Attorney General of British Columbia on two significant constitutional cases. 

“Tam’s expertise will be invaluable to the important work that we are doing on behalf of the people of British Columbia,” said Commissioner Austin Cullen. “His appointment as policy counsel rounds out a dedicated and talented group of professionals that I am honoured to lead. I think I can speak for the whole team when I say, we look forward to working with him.”

About the Commission

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia was announced on May 15, 2019 by Premier John Horgan. It is independent of government. Led by Commissioner Austin Cullen, a judge of the British Columbia Supreme Court, the Commission will look at the full scope of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions, and the corporate and professional sectors. The Commission will also examine regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities. Commissioner Cullen has the ability to compel witnesses and order the production of documents and records.

The Commission is required to deliver an interim report by November 15, 2020 and a final report by May 2021. For more information, please visit: www.cullencommission.ca.

Public Hearing Dates

For Immediate Release

January 9, 2020

Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia Sets Public Hearing Dates

Vancouver, B.C. – The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia has confirmed the dates for its public hearings. They are:

February 24 – 28: These hearings are for participants (those granted formal standing) to provide their opening statements. These hearings will provide an opportunity for participants to address the Commissioner and to set out the issues and matters that they would like to see the Inquiry address.

These hearings will be held at the Federal Court of Canada at 701 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, in Courtroom 801.

May 25 – June 26: These hearings will deal with an overview of the money laundering topic and regulatory models, as well as attempts to quantify the extent of money laundering activity in British Columbia. These hearings may not occupy the full five-week period in the spring.

The courtroom for these hearings will be announced in the coming weeks.

September 8 – December 22: These are the main hearings in which Commission Counsel plan to address specific issues* including:

  • 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

The courtroom for these hearings will be announced in the coming weeks.

*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 on the Commission’s website: www.cullencommission.ca.

The Commission plans to post its witness lists on its website in advance of the witnesses testifying. These lists will be subject to modification if Commission Counsel determines that a witness is unnecessary or that an additional witness is required.

The Commission is planning on webcasting the hearings on its website. Details about the webcast will be announced closer to the February hearing dates.

Transcripts of the hearings and exhibits will also be posted to the website. (The exception to this would be in the event of special circumstances where there is a need for protective measures for a witness, document or evidence. This could include measures such as a publication ban, sealing materials or proceeding in a closed (non-public) hearing.)

About the Commission

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia was announced on May 15, 2019 by Premier John Horgan. It is independent of government. Led by Commissioner Austin Cullen, a judge of the British Columbia Supreme Court, the Commission will look at the full scope of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions, and the corporate and professional sectors. The Commission will also examine regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities. Commissioner Cullen has the ability to compel witnesses and order the production of documents and records.

The Commission is required to deliver an interim report by November 15, 2020 and a final report by May 2021. For more information, please visit: www.cullencommission.ca.

Commissioner Austin Cullen Opening Remarks - Public Meetings

October 23, 2019

Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia Public Meetings Commissioner Austin Cullen Opening Remarks

I would like to begin by welcoming you to this meeting and thanking you for attending. Your presence signals an interest in and a concern about the subject matter of this Inquiry. This event is part of a larger process, which will enable us to hear from various communities about the issues we are inquiring into.

As you are aware, the Government of the Province of British Columbia established this Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia on May 15, 2019. I have been appointed Commissioner.

Present with me at this meeting—as I am sure you have noticed—are several members of the Commission team.

Our Inquiry’s terms of reference are quite broad. Speaking generally, they require the Commission to study the prevalence of money laundering in, and its impact on, various economic sectors including gaming, horse racing, real estate, financial institutions and money service businesses, the corporate sector, luxury goods and professional services—including lawyers and accountants.

The Commission is also mandated to review the acts and/or omissions of individuals and agencies responsible for combating money laundering, in order to determine whether those acts or omissions have contributed to the spread of money laundering and if so, whether they amount to corruption.

In recent years, there has been extensive media investigation and coverage of money laundering. There have also been studies and reports prepared by academics and other experts that shed light on the prevalence of money laundering in the province and on its noticeable effects.

As a result, the public has become aware of, and concerned about, this problem. One recent poll reported that approximately 90% of British Columbians are concerned about money laundering.

It is part of this Inquiry’s role to add to the public’s understanding of the nature and scale of money laundering in the province and to address its concerns, to the extent possible, through recommendations for action.

There is an incidental benefit from simply bringing additional concentrated attention to the crime of money laundering. The more awareness there is of its presence and of the profound social harms it propagates, the less complacency there can be for facilitating or tolerating it.

Money laundering is a particularly insidious crime. Its roots are in offences that victimize others—often people who are vulnerable. In its actual commission, however, money laundering is akin to the transmission of a serious contagious disease. Both events may be inconspicuous, yet each invariably leads to an erosion of well-being.

We will examine how money laundering is taking place in British Columbia. We will examine whether such transactions could be prevented with a better approach, better training, or a different legal or regulatory regime. We will look at whether lapses in judgment or honesty have compromised the prevention of money laundering and contributed to its growth. We will listen to proposed solutions to these problems and issues, and we will assess their effectiveness and compatibility with our constitutional imperatives. We will make recommendations to the government for their use.

At this stage, the Commission is in the process of gathering information through the study of and follow-up on media reports; the review and analysis of other studies and reports; research into various legal and factual issues; the acquisition and review of documents held by agencies, individuals or corporate sources; and interviews of potential witnesses and experts. We are in a phase where much of the Commission’s work is happening out of the public spotlight, with lawyers, investigators and analysts drilling into the issues. All of this hard work will lead us to the evidence hearings, which will take place in 2020. We will make a point of providing detailed notice about all of this on our website as we carry on.

Today’s public meeting and those we are holding around the province are part of that exploration and discovery process. We are not yet in a position to provide answers to questions. To attempt to do so would be premature and might amount to prejudging issues that have not been fully canvassed. We come to these meetings not to provide information, but to obtain it. Our responses to everything that we hear, see and read will be made at a later stage in the process: through an interim report to be issued in November of 2020 and a final report to be issued in May of 2021.

It is our hope that these meetings will help raise awareness of the issues we are mandated to investigate, provide us with the nature and scale of public concern in different communities in the province, and help us to shape our approach and ultimate response to what has consistently been characterized as a serious problem requiring attention and action.

I really appreciate that you have each taken the time to come here today to share your views about this problem. An engaged community is at the foundation of a well-functioning society. Your perspective and feedback about money laundering and how you feel that it is affecting your community is important to the work that we are doing at the Commission.

I very much look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you.

Speaking Notes – Commissioner Austin Cullen

October 18, 2019

Speaking Notes – Commissioner Austin Cullen
Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia

Before I formally open this hearing, I would like to say a few words since this is the first time that I am speaking publicly in my role as Commissioner of the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia.

This hearing has been convened in accordance with a direction I made following the receipt of 20 applications from various individuals and entities seeking leave to participate in the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia. On September 24, 2019, I granted participant status to 16 of the applicants with a direction that the remaining four applicants—Messrs. Alderson, Desmarais, Lightbody and Pinnock—attend an oral hearing of the Inquiry to enable a further review and determination of their individual circumstances in light of the relevant considerations governing those applications.

In the meantime, the British Columbia Real Estate Association sought—and was granted—an extension of time to apply for participant status. I granted the extension of time and their application for participant status on October 16, 2019. My reasons for doing so are posted on the commission’s website.

As I understand it, Mr. Alderson, after discussions with Senior Commission Counsel, has elected to withdraw his application for participant status, being satisfied that if he is called as a witness, he will be able to contribute to the work of the Commission to the extent he wishes.

Before considering the remaining three applications, it seems appropriate to provide a brief overview of the nature and scope of our mandate and to say something about the Commission itself, which will help to give some context to these applications.

As I noted in the Introductory Statement posted on the Commission’s website, there appears to be a consensus among law enforcement officials, academics and subject matter experts that British Columbia is a jurisdiction in which money laundering is flourishing.

The mandate of the Commission—which was established by the Provincial Government—is very broad. It encompasses various economic sectors where money laundering is said to have taken root, grown and evolved, and it requires the Commission to make findings of fact in relation to:

  • The extent, growth, evolution and methods of money laundering in British Columbia, with regard to specific economic sectors;
  • The acts or omissions of responsible regulatory agencies and individuals, and whether those have contributed to money laundering in the province or amount to corruption;
  • The scope and effectiveness of the anti-money laundering powers, duties and functions of these regulatory agencies and individuals; and
  • The barriers to effective law enforcement in relation to money laundering.

In addition, the Commission has a responsibility to make recommendations to address the conditions that have enabled money laundering to grow and evolve in the province.

In recent years, there has been extensive media investigation and coverage of money laundering. There have also been studies and reports prepared by academics and other experts that shed light on the prevalence of money laundering in the province and on its noticeable effects.

As a result, the public has become aware of, and concerned about, this problem. One recent poll reported that approximately 90% of British Columbians are concerned about money laundering.

It is part of this Inquiry’s role to add to the public’s understanding of the nature and scale of money laundering in the province and to address its concerns, to the extent possible, through recommendations for action.

There is also an incidental benefit from simply bringing additional concentrated attention to the crime of money laundering. The more awareness there is of its presence, and of the profound social harms it springs from and propagates, the less complacency there can be for facilitating or tolerating it.

Brock Martland, Q.C. and Patrick McGowan, who are present at this hearing, are the two Senior Commission Counsel. They have undertaken the significant responsibility of assembling and organizing the evidence that will be placed before the Commission at the hearing stage. The evidence will come from many sources and will cover a broad array of topics. To assist in this task, they have put together a very capable team of lawyers and consultants. Biographies of all of the Commission Counsel are posted on our website.

This Commission, like all commissions appointed under the Public Inquiry Act, S.B.C. 2007, c. 9, is independent of government. We serve the people of British Columbia.

This means that the Commission must live up to certain standards in conducting its public hearings. One of the integral standards is that of fairness to those whose privacy interests, legal interests, or reputational interests may be affected by the proceedings. Another important standard for the Commission is thoroughness. The Commission must do its utmost to ensure that its subject matter is comprehensively and meaningfully covered. That entails hearing from a range of voices and points of view.

One of the mechanisms of ensuring fairness and thoroughness is permitting certain parties to act as participants in the proceedings—if their interests may be affected by the findings of the Commission, if their participation would further the conduct of the Inquiry, and/or if their participation would contribute to the fairness of the Inquiry.

Not all persons or organization representatives, who may be called as witnesses, are entitled to participant status. If a person believes that he or she has relevant evidence to give, they may be entitled to testify and they may be represented by counsel. It does not follow that having relevant evidence to give justifies a granting of participant status. The other conditions I have mentioned must be in play.

This hearing is not adversarial. It is an attempt by all present to get at the root of the question of whether Messrs. Desmarais, Lightbody and Pinnock meet the criteria for status as participants, or whether their involvement is appropriately confined to be a witness or potential witness. I do not anticipate any need for extensive evidence or any cross-examination at this hearing. A simple exploration of the factual and statutory conditions at issue will lead to an appropriate resolution.

As I understand it, Mr. Martland and Mr. McGowan have spoken with counsel for Messrs. Desmarais, Lightbody and Pinnock and have agreed upon a format for proceeding this morning. I will now ask one of them to set forth what format these proceedings will follow.

Media Advisory/Visual and Interview Opportunity

For Immediate Release

October 17, 2019

Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia Media Advisory/Visual and Interview Opportunity

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia is set to hold an oral hearing for four applicants for participant status: Ross Alderson, Brad Desmarais, James Lightbody and Fred Pinnock. The hearing is open to the public.

Date: Friday, October 18, 2019

Time: The oral hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Location: Federal Court of Canada at 701 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, in courtroom 701.

Visual/Audio Opportunity: Commissioner Cullen will make introductory remarks at the outset of the hearing. There will be the opportunity to videotape and take photos during Commissioner Cullen’s opening remarks in the courtroom. At the conclusion of the Commissioner’s opening remarks, there will be a two-minute break and media will be asked to end videotaping and photography. The hearing will then begin.

Interview Opportunity: The Commission’s Director of Communications, Ruth Atherley, will be at the hearing. If you would like to interview Senior Commission Counsel, please let Ruth know and she will set this up either prior to or after the hearing.

The oral hearing is being undertaken to offer the applicants an opportunity to provide the Commissioner with additional information to support their participant applications. It will allow the Commissioner an opportunity to seek any further information that he feels would assist him in assessing whether the applicants satisfy the criteria for being granted status as participants.

While the applicants may be present at the oral hearing, it is not required; their legal counsel may represent their interests at the hearing. The participants or their legal counsel will be given the opportunity to make an oral submission supplementing and supporting their applications. It is not anticipated that any of the applicants will be cross-examined at this hearing.

About the Commission

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia was announced on May 15, 2019 by Premier John Horgan. It is independent of government. Led by Commissioner Austin Cullen, the Commission will look at the full scope of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions, and the corporate and professional sectors. The Commission will also examine regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities. Commissioner Cullen has the ability to compel witnesses and order the production of documents and records.

The Commission is required to deliver an interim report by November 15, 2020 and a final report by May 2021. For more information, please visit: www.cullencommission.ca.

Grants Standing to British Columbia Real Estate Association

For Immediate Release

October 16, 2019

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia Grants Standing to British Columbia Real Estate Association

Vancouver, B.C. – The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia has released an additional Participants Application Ruling. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) has been granted standing.

In total, 21 applications were submitted. With the addition of the BCREA, Commissioner Austin Cullen has now granted standing to 17 applicants:

  • British Columbia Real Estate Association;
  • British Columbia Ministry of Finance;
  • Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch of the British Columbia Ministry of the Attorney General;
  • Government of Canada;
  • The Society of Notaries Public of BC;
  • The Law Society of British Columbia;
  • The British Columbia Lottery Corporation;
  • Great Canadian Gaming Corporation;
  • Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited;
  • Canadian Gaming Association;
  • British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union;
  • Robert Kroeker;
  • BMW Canada Inc. and BMW Financial Services, a division of BMW Canada Inc.;
  • British Columbia Civil Liberties Association;
  • The Canadian Bar Association, British Columbia Branch;
  • Criminal Defence Advocacy Society; and
  • A coalition comprising of Transparency International Canada, Canadians for Tax Fairness, and Publish What You Pay Canada (the “Coalition”).

Details of the grant of standing given to the BCREA are set out in the Ruling, which is available on the Commission’s website at: https://cullencommission.ca/participants/ (Participant Application Ruling #2).

The Commissioner has concluded that an oral hearing is required to further consider the applications of four individuals who sought standing. They are Ross Alderson, Brad Desmarais, James Lightbody and Fred Pinnock. The oral hearing is set for Friday, October 18, 2019, at Canada Federal Court at 701 West Georgia Street in Vancouver.

Members of the public who did not apply for participants standing but who are interested in providing information to the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia or who want to testify at the Inquiry hearings are encouraged to contact Commission Counsel at: info@cullencommission.ca.

The Rules for Standing provided a due date for submissions of September 6, 2019, but the Commissioner has the discretion to extend that deadline. Anyone seeking to apply for participant status is encouraged to apply in accordance with the Rules for Standing and to seek an extension of time. Those applications will be carefully considered and determined on their merits. For individuals and organizations seeking formal standing as participants (similar to parties in a court case) at the hearings, the Commission’s Rules for Standing can be found at: www.cullencommission.ca/participants.

About the Commission

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia was announced on May 15, 2019 by Premier John Horgan. It is independent of government. Led by Commissioner Austin Cullen, the Commission will look at the full scope of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions, and the corporate and professional sectors. The Commission will also examine regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities. Commissioner Cullen has the ability to compel witnesses and order the production of documents and records.

The Commission is required to deliver an interim report by November 15, 2020 and a final report by May 2021. For more information, please visit: www.cullencommission.ca.

Date Set for Oral Hearing for Participant Status Application for Four Applicants

For Immediate Release

October 15, 2019

Date Set for Oral Hearing for Participant Status Application for Four Applicants

Vancouver, B.C. – The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia is set to hold an oral hearing for four applicants for participant status — Ross Alderson, Brad Desmarais, James Lightbody and Fred Pinnock — on Friday, October 18, 2019 at the Federal Court of Canada at 701 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, in courtroom 701. The oral hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. Commissioner Cullen will make introductory remarks at the outset of the hearing.

The oral hearing is being undertaken to offer the applicants an opportunity to provide the Commissioner with additional information to support their participant applications. It will allow the Commissioner an opportunity to seek any further information that he feels would assist him in assessing whether the applicants satisfy the criteria for being granted status as participants.

While the applicants may be present at the oral hearing, it is not required; their legal counsel may represent their interests at the hearing. The participants or their legal counsel will be given the opportunity to make an oral submission supplementing and supporting their applications. It is not anticipated that any of the applicants will be cross-examined at this hearing.

About the Commission

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia was announced on May 15, 2019 by Premier John Horgan. It is independent of government. Led by Commissioner Austin Cullen, the Commission will look at the full scope of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions, and the corporate and professional sectors. The Commission will also examine regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities. Commissioner Cullen has the ability to compel witnesses and order the production of documents and records.

The Commission is required to deliver an interim report by November 15, 2020 and a final report by May 2021. For more information, please visit: www.cullencommission.ca.

Announces Public Meetings

For Immediate Release

October 2, 2019

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia Announces Public Meetings

Vancouver, B.C. – The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia has announced the dates and locations of its public meetings. These public events will provide British Columbians from different parts of the province with the ability to come forward and express what they feel are issues of concern, and to identify areas that they would like the Commission to focus on or to include in the process.

The public meetings are:

All meeting times are from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

  • Vancouver: October 23, 2019
    Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
    900 West Georgia Street
    Vancouver, B.C.
  • Kelowna: October 29, 2019
    Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel & Suites
    2402 Hwy 97 North
    Kelowna, B.C.
  • Victoria: November 4, 2019
    Marriott Hotel Victoria Inner Harbour
    728 Humboldt Street
    Victoria, B.C.
  • Richmond: November 7, 2019
    Hilton Vancouver Airport
    5911 Minoru Boulevard
    Richmond, B.C.
  • Prince George: November 14, 2019
    Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Prince George
    444 George Street
    Prince George, B.C.

Those wishing to present at a public meeting are asked to pre-register. More information on the public meetings — and registration forms to present at a meeting — can be found at: https://cullencommission.ca/public-meetings/.

Members of the public who cannot attend one of the planned public meetings and who want to provide information to the Commission are asked to e-mail Senior Commission Counsel at: contact@cullencommission.ca.

About the Commission

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia was announced on May 15, 2019 by Premier John Horgan. It is independent of government. Led by Commissioner Austin Cullen, the Commission will look at the full scope of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions, and the corporate and professional sectors. The Commission will also examine regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities. Commissioner Cullen has the ability to compel witnesses and order the production of documents and records.

The Commission is required to deliver an interim report by November 15, 2020 and a final report by May 2021. For more information, please visit: www.cullencommission.ca.

Releases Participants Application Ruling

For Immediate Release

September 24, 2019

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia Releases Participants Application Ruling

Vancouver, B.C. – The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia has released the Participants Application Ruling. Twenty applications were submitted. The Commissioner has granted standing to 16 of the applicants:

  • British Columbia Ministry of Finance;
  • Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch of the British Columbia Ministry of the Attorney General;
  • Government of Canada;
  • The Society of Notaries Public of BC;
  • The Law Society of British Columbia;
  • The British Columbia Lottery Corporation;
  • Great Canadian Gaming Corporation;
  • Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited;
  • Canadian Gaming Association;
  • British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union;
  • Robert Kroeker;
  • BMW Canada Inc. and BMW Financial Services, a division of BMW Canada Inc.;
  • British Columbia Civil Liberties Association;
  • The Canadian Bar Association, British Columbia Branch;
  • Criminal Defence Advocacy Society; and
  • A coalition comprising of Transparency International Canada, Canadians for Tax Fairness, and Publish What You Pay Canada (the “Coalition”).

Details of the grant of standing given to each applicant are set out in the Ruling which is available on the Commission’s website at: Participants Applications Ruling .

The Commissioner has concluded that oral hearings are required to further consider the applications of four individuals who sought standing. They are Ross Alderson, Brad Desmarais, James Lightbody and Fred Pinnock. Details about the oral hearings – which will be open to the public – will be available at: www.cullencommission.ca, once a date and venue have been determined.

Members of the public who did not apply for Participant Standing but who are interested in providing information to the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia or who want to testify at the Inquiry hearings are encouraged to contact Commission Counsel at: info@cullencommission.ca.

The Rules for Standing provided a due date for submissions of September 6, 2019, but the Commissioner has the discretion to extend that deadline. Anyone seeking to apply for participant status is encouraged to apply in accordance with the Rules for Standing and to seek an extension of time. Those applications will be carefully considered and determined on their merits. For individuals and organizations seeking formal standing as participants (similar to parties in a court case) at the hearings, the Commission’s Rules for Standing can be found at: www.cullencommission.ca/participants/.

About the Commission

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia was announced on May 15, 2019 by Premier John Horgan. Led by Commissioner Austin Cullen, the Commission will look at the full scope of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions, and the corporate and professional sectors. The Commission will also examine regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities. Commissioner Cullen has the ability to compel witnesses and order the production of documents and records.

The Commission is required to deliver an interim report by November 15, 2020 and a final report by May 2021. For more information, please visit: www.cullencommission.ca.

Releases Rules for Standing for Participants

For Immediate Release

July 29 2019

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia Releases Rules for Standing for Participants

Vancouver, B.C. – The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia (the Cullen Commission) has released its Rules for Standing for participants. Individuals, groups, associations or others who wish to seek formal standing as participants in the Inquiry’s hearings can review the Rules for Standing via the Commission’s website at: www.cullencommission.ca/participants/.

Applications for participant status must be submitted as set out in the Rules for Standing, on or before Friday, September 6, 2019.

About the Commission

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia was announced on May 15, 2019 by Premier John Horgan. Led by Commissioner Austin Cullen, the Commission will look at the full scope of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions and the corporate and professional sectors. The Commission will also examine regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities. Commissioner Cullen has the ability to compel witnesses and order the production of documents and records.

The Commission is required to deliver an interim report by November 15, 2020 and a final report by May 2021.

For more information, please visit: www.cullencommission.ca

Announces Senior Inquiry Team

For Immediate Release

July 29, 2019

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia Announces Senior Inquiry Team

Vancouver, B.C. – The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia (the Cullen Commission) has announced its senior team. Commissioner Austin Cullen will lead the following team:

Senior Commission Counsel

Brock Martland, QC, a partner at the firm of Martland & Saulnier in Vancouver, practises in the area of criminal law, handling trials and appeals, mainly for the defence and sometimes for the Crown. He has been involved in cases concerning police discipline, administrative and constitutional law, extradition and youth justice.

Mr. Martland comes to the role of Senior Commission Counsel with experience as Associate Commission Counsel for the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River and for the Frank Paul Inquiry (the Davies Commission) into the death of Frank Paul.

He is a graduate of the University of Victoria (Law) and Queen’s University (B.A. (Hon.)). Mr. Martland clerked for the Honourable Justice Major at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Patrick McGowan is a Vancouver-based trial and appellate lawyer who practises criminal, civil and administrative law. He has been involved in cases dealing with a wide variety of complex legal and constitutional issues in British Columbia and at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Mr. McGowan served as Associate Commission Counsel in two earlier inquiries: the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River, and the Braidwood Commissions of Inquiry into Conducted Energy Weapon Use and the Death of Robert Dziekanski.

Mr. McGowan obtained his law degree from the University of British Columbia, following which he clerked with the Supreme Court of British Columbia. He currently practises with the law firm Ritchie Sandford McGowan.

Policy Counsel

Christine Judd holds the role of Policy Counsel, and is a graduate of the University of British Columbia. She was called to the Bar in 1999 after clerking for the Supreme Court of British Columbia. She has been legal counsel to the BC Supreme Court for the past 18 years, where she assisted justices with complex criminal and constitutional law cases.

Senior Administration

Leo Perra has been named Executive Director for the Commission, Cathy Stooshnov serves as the Manager, Finance and Administration and Ruth Atherley (AHA Creative Strategies Inc.) has taken on the role of Director, Communications.

About the Commission

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia was announced on May 15, 2019 by Premier John Horgan. Led by Commissioner Austin Cullen, the Commission will look at the full scope of money laundering in British Columbia, including real estate, gaming, financial institutions and the corporate and professional sectors. The Commission will also examine regulatory authorities and barriers to effective law enforcement of money laundering activities. Commissioner Cullen has the ability to compel witnesses and order the production of documents and records.

The Commission is required to deliver an interim report by November 15, 2020 and a final report by May 2021.

For more information, please visit: www.cullencommission.ca.