Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)

Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Rich Coleman, who was the minister overseeing gambling and casinos in B.C. off and on from 2001 to 2013, appeared before the Cullen Commission for his second and final session of testimony on Friday.

Coleman was the MLA for Fort Langley-Aldergrove or Langley East from 1996 to 2020, and during the years the Liberals controlled the B.C. Legislature from 2001 to 2017, he was the cabinet minister in charge of gaming multiple times, including from 2001 to 2005.

Coleman had previously told the commission last month that it was difficult to address money laundering at B.C. casinos directly because there were complex legal issues related to being able to prove suspicious cash at casinos was illegal money.

Much of the hour-long questioning period between Coleman and Brock Martland, a lawyer working for the Cullen Commission, focused on an interview he gave to CBC’s B.C. Almanac in January 2011 with Fort Langley’s Mark Forsyth.

READ MORE: Money laundering inquiry testimony ends with reappearance of Rich Coleman

After a $460,000 transaction at the River Rock Casino in Richmond occurred with $20 bills being exchanged for gambling chips, Inspector Barry Baxter with RCMP’s Integrated Proceeds of Crime section told CBC that suspicions ran high.

“We’re suspicious that it’s dirty money,” Baxter stated in an interview. “The common person would say this stinks. There’s no doubt about it.”

When questioned on B.C. Almanac, Coleman said he didn’t agree with him “and neither do all the superiors of his on the RCMP.”

“He’s offside with some of the messaging I got from the RCMP last week when I asked them the question and they’re having a look at the comments that he made within the policing because they don’t feel that it was correct,” Coleman said in the interview.

Martland asked whether Coleman himself contacted the RCMP, to which the former MLA responded that he had not.

“I should have used ‘we’ instead of ‘I’,” Coleman said, clarifying that he did not personally have that conversation, but instead had a chief of staff and contacts at the BC Lottery Corporation distill information for him.

Coleman said he was simply using the information to make a statement to the public through the program.

Coleman additionally explained that the comments from Baxter came “out of the blue,” particularly because the process of a review into casino money laundering had begun.

“The surprise of the comments made it difficult,” Coleman added, ultimately admitting that he felt he probably went a little too far out with his opinion on his answer of Baxter being “offside.”

When asked whether the interview downplayed the seriousness of money laundering issue at hand, Coleman felt he actually up-played it with his response to Baxter’s comments.

READ MORE: Former cabinet minister denies saying government knew about casino crime

He summarized that particular experience as a frustrating interview and a frustrating week.

“How I phrased something ten years ago in a seven-minute interview, especially now looking back with hindsight, can’t be changed,” he said.

Coleman also spoke to the $460,000 casino transaction and why he had not believed it to be suspicious, explaining that he knew people who played in casinos with large cash transactions that are legitimate.

“This person was a known customer to the casino,” he noted.

Martland remarked that the person may not have been suspicious, but the cash could have been.

The Cullen Commission was formed in the wake of reports of huge amounts of illicit cash moving through B.C. casinos with few attempts to investigate the source of any of the funds.

An inquiry launched by the NDP outlined how illegal cash from organized crime was flowing through casinos, as well as the real estate and luxury car markets in Metro Vancouver.

The hearings are overseen by Commissioner Austin Cullen, a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

The commission was adjourned to July 6 when final statements will be made.

Cullen has until Dec. 15 to deliver his report, which will include recommendations.


Have a story tip? Email: newsroom@aldergrovestar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

AldergroveLangleymoney laundering

Just Posted

A Category 3 fire ban will go into effect across the entire Cariboo Fire Centre beginning noon on Monday, June 21. (Pixaby photo)
Category 3 fire ban extends across entire Cariboo Fire Centre June 21

Campfires are still permitted, but no larger than half a metre high by half a metre wide

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation planning ground analysis of land near former residential school

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Most Read