Erik Gibbs, 17 May 2021
As British Columbia (BC), more than a decade later, still tries to get to the bottom of a massive casino money-laundering saga, it seems that there are more questions than answers being raised. The government-led inquiry, dubbed the Cullen Commission, into how hundreds of millions of dollars could have been allegedly laundered right under regulators’ and casino executives’ noses without their knowledge has shed light on a series of failures in the industry. However, it isn’t any closer to wrapping up. It might not be for some time to come, as certain people involved at the highest levels allegedly have a difficult time providing accurate and consistent stories. One of these is Rich Coleman, a former BC gaming minister, who seems to have trouble sticking to his story.
Show Me the Money Trail
Coleman, who was once accused of helping criminal organizations launder money through casinos, was ordered to return to the spotlight of the Cullen Commission last week. The commission was concerned over “discrepancies” in testimony he gave when he was testifying last month that didn’t match comments he made in 2011. Coleman had been in charge of BC’s gaming industry sporadically from 2001 to 2013.
One of the discrepancies centered on an investigative piece conducted by CBC News in 2011 that included RCMP Inspector Barry Baxter. He indicated at the time that the law enforcement body had begun suspecting casinos as a funnel for cartel drug money, yet Coleman derided the official publicly shortly after, even indicating that Baxter’s own superiors thought he might be out of line. Last month, however, when Coleman was testifying before the Commission, he stated he never spoke with Baxter’s superiors.