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

Caledonia Secondary School is the recipient of a $50,000 grant to replace its aging science equipment. (File photo)
Cal snags major grant to modernize science equipment

The $50,000 comes from a pharmaceutical company

Unemployment rate drops in northwestern B.C.

Large improvement since Spring 2020

Uplands Nursery this year will do all of the 4600 Block of Lazelle Ave., beginning at its east end, and a portion of the 4700 Block. (File photo)
Lazelle sidewalk project begins June 14

Improvements coming to 4600 and 4700 Blocks

Cassie Hall Elementary School students pose for a picture in their garden. Since 2019, students and staff at the school have been attending to the garden project. (Binny Paul/Terrace Standard)
Cassie Hall students grow a green sanctuary at school

The K-6 elementary school students and staff have been working on the garden project since 2019

Glenn Bennett returns as chief councillor for Kitselas First Nation after June 10 elections. (Submitted photo)
Kitselas First Nation votes Glenn Bennett as chief councillor on June 10

Six council members were also elected from a packed pool of candidates

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Most Read