Kevin Falcon apologizes for BC Liberal’s inaction on money laundering

Still, the Liberal leader takes a swipe at the attorney general, arguing he has suggested corruption and helped fuel anti-Asian bias.

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BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon has apologized on behalf of his party for his inaction to stop the flow of dirty money through BC casinos, but criticized Attorney General David Eby for leveling corruption charges before they were filed. Complete Commissioner Austin Cullen’s report.

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“It was my party, even if I wasn’t in government with them at the time,” Falcón told reporters on Friday. “And so we apologize unreservedly for that. And we have to recognize that we have to do better in the future.”

Cullen’s report, released Wednesday, found that at least two BC Liberal ministers responsible for gambling, Rich Coleman and Mike de Jong, who served under then-Prime Minister Christy Clark, knew casinos were being used to launder the proceeds of crime and their inaction contributed to the problem.

Asked if the money laundering scandal will leave a stain on BC Liberals that could affect their performance in the 2024 election, Falcón said: “I don’t think so because it’s not a scandal, frankly. There was a problem that has probably existed for decades.”

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Falcon said the role of the official opposition is to ensure that the NDP government implements the 101 recommendations made by Cullen, a former British Columbia Supreme Court justice, which include expanding the mandate of the civil forfeiture office and creating a czar against money laundering.

But Eby must be held accountable, Falcon said, for making “outright accusations” that liberal MLAs were corrupt and for fueling the narrative that “dirty Chinese money” was contributing to the province’s soaring property prices. Such “dog whistle politics” contributed to anti-Asian racism, Falcon said, “the effects of which we are still seeing today.”

Cullen found no evidence to suggest that money laundering is the cause of the housing unaffordability.

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Asked if his previous comments on the real estate sector singled out the Asian community, Eby told Postmedia News on Friday that he has always been clear that he doesn’t believe “it was just one community that was driving house prices. That it was the issue of people who didn’t live or pay taxes in British Columbia buying property and we needed to know what was going on.”

“The reality is that in 2015 and 2016, our real estate market was inflated by international money,” Eby said. “And that was not my discovery. It was the finding of data compiled by the BC Liberal government under pressure from me and the opposition.”

The BC Liberals introduced a 15 percent foreign buyers tax for Metro Vancouver in 2016 and the NDP raised the tax to 20 percent when they took office in 2017.

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Eby alleged that Falcon, as finance minister in 2011 and 2012, pressured the BC Lottery Corporation to increase revenue, which could have caused then-CEO Michael Grayson to focus on gambling profits rather than cash flow. of illicit cash.

Falcon was not named in Cullen’s report and was not called to testify.

Falcon said the suggestion that he pressured the BCLC to increase revenue at the expense of eliminating dirty money is “complete nonsense.”

Eby is trying to divert attention from rising crime and the unpopular $1 billion Royal BC replacement project, Falcon said.

“So you want to go back to 2012 and try to piece together a strange suggestion that somehow the fact that we hold Crown (corporations) accountable for keeping up with their budgets is somehow evidence of taking advantage of dirty money. It just isn’t the case and Judge Cullen said it wasn’t the case.”

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