A week after the release of an independent report into money laundering in B.C. casinos, Premier John Horgan says it’s still possible the government could name names and place blame.
“I haven’t ruled that out,” Horgan told reporters on Wednesday.
“I spoke with the attorney general about that just today.”
It comes as the NDP government — and the report itself — take fire for sidestepping assigning responsibility for growing criminal activity.
There have also been growing calls for a public inquiry into the matter, with one poll finding public support among three-quarters of British Columbians for the idea.
Horgan appeared chilly to that idea, citing concerns about the cost of an inquiry.
So far, Horgan says the BC Liberals, who were in power during what the report deemed a “decade of dirty money,” are blaming everyone but themselves.
“Be responsible, be accountable and we can move on from there,” Horgan said.
Last week, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said he accepted the recommendations proposed in Peter German’s money laundering report, but denied that the Liberals had turned a blind eye towards criminal activity.
Wilkinson cited the creation of the Joint Illegal Gaming Investigation Team (JIGIT) in 2016, which he said brought suspicious cash transactions down by 60 per cent, and its previous incarnation, the Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET), which was scrapped on the advice of police and because it was ineffective.
WATCH: David Eby shows video of money laundering in action
On Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth was also asked about the possibility of creating an inter-agency task force with the specific mandate to investigate people whose names were associated with suspicious cash transactions at B.C. casinos with an eye to bringing charges.
Farnworth said the province is working on building cases.
“First off, in the recommendations, now there’s a recommendation to create a special police force that will do that,” he said.
“And then the other issue, of course, is that there are investigations that are underway, and then there’s JIGIT, which is located within my ministry. But of course, there are charges that are located at the Crown level.”
Back in May, the RCMP arrested and deported Chinese national Dan Bui Shun Jin at the River Rock Casino on allegations of international money laundering.
The province says there are also two active investigations currently underway into money laundering.
As for the future of the province’s money laundering probe, Horgan said the government is still assessing which area to target next.
“We have concerns about housing, we have concerns about high-priced autos being paid for with bags of cash, as well, so we’re looking at the next stages of this,” he said.
On Tuesday, Eby said that the terms of reference for a second report on money laundering and the housing market are being discussed, and that he is working with Finance Minister Carole James to identify issues.
Horgan said details about those next steps would be made public in the coming weeks.
-With files from the Canadian Press
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