(File photo)

Former cop who blew whistle wants standing in B.C. money laundering inquiry

Fred Pinnock, former head of B.C.’s illegal gaming enforcement team, became a ‘whistleblower’ in 2008

An inquiry into money laundering in B.C. would not exist without the “courage” of an ex-RCMP officer who spoke out about organized crime in casinos, his lawyer says.

Paul Jaffe told a hearing Friday that the public perception of the inquiry will be damaged if it doesn’t grant standing to Fred Pinnock, the former head of the illegal gaming enforcement team in B.C.

“Mr. Pinnock … was in a fairly unique position to see what he perceived as the interference with his stated mandate, far beyond simple indifference or neglect, as to the systemic use of gaming venues to facilitate money laundering,” Jaffe told commissioner Austin Cullen.

Cullen called the hearing to consider applications for standing from Pinnock as well as B.C. Lottery Corp. executives James Lightbody and Brad Desmarais.

Jaffe said that Pinnock served the RCMP for 29 years and became the unit commander of the gaming team in 2005. His concerns about money laundering were so meaningful that he took early retirement in 2008 and became a “whistleblower,” the lawyer told the hearing.

He also credited Ross Alderson, a former investigator employed by the lottery corporation, with bringing forward concerns that helped spur the inquiry. Alderson had also requested standing but he has since withdrawn his application in favour of being a witness.

However, Jaffe said it’s essential to the public’s view of the inquiry as operating on a “level playing field” that Pinnock be treated as more than a witness, with the ability to cross-examine and call witnesses of his own.

“If you exclude Mr. Pinnock from having standing here, virtually all the participants are parties that have interests to protect,” he told Cullen.

The inquiry has already approved 17 applications for standing, including from the provincial lottery corporation, B.C. Ministry of Finance, the federal government, Canadian Gaming Association and the Law Society of B.C. Cullen said Friday that the B.C. Real Estate Association has now also been approved.

The hearing did not delve into specific evidence, but Cullen summarized Pinnock’s allegations in a ruling last month ordering the hearing.

Pinnock alleges that during the time he led the gaming team the public was being “misled” about the degree of criminal activity in casinos in B.C.

Between 2006 and 2019, he made a number of public statements that reflected his concerns that casinos were “havens for organized criminal activity,” the ruling says.

“He further emphasized that this criminal activity could not have achieved the levels it had without government and law enforcement agencies engaging in wilful blindness and worse,” it says.

“Mr. Pinnock is concerned that the acts or omissions of individuals he and his colleagues observed allowed criminal organizations to flourish in B.C. and beyond, contributing to the opioid crisis and untold numbers of overdose deaths in recent years.”

The B.C. government called the inquiry in May following three independent reviews, including two by Peter German, an ex-deputy commissioner of the RCMP, who wrote a report about money laundering in B.C. It concluded crime groups were funnelling billions of dollars through real estate, luxury cars and other parts of the economy.

READ MORE: RCMP has ‘no’ dedicated money laundering investigators in B.C.

The commission will hold a series of public meetings starting in Vancouver on Wednesday. A final report is due by May 2021.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan, Shuswap

Environment Canada is forecasting strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy downpours in parts of the Interior

WorkSafe BC conducted 70 inspections in the Okanagan amid B.C.’s reopening plan

WorkSafe BC has conducted 100 inspections at restaurants across the province since May 19

EDITORIAL: Revisiting alcohol consumption

A proposal to allow alcohol consumption in some public spaces in Penticton deserves consideration

Chute Lake Lodge opens June 1, offering glamping, yurt, and ebike rentals

Escape into the wilderness and #lovelocalpenticton when Chute Lake Lodge reopens for the season

Okanagan Skaha School District to reopen playgrounds

Facilities will reopen to the public on June 1

Vancouver Island bride held wedding in seniors home so dying stepdad could walk her down aisle

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Yukon ready to lift COVID travel restrictions with B.C. in July: premier

Premier Sandy Silver says the territory’s health-care system can cope with the virus.

‘It is dire:’ Study finds B.C. logging continues on critical caribou habitat

The federal Species At Risk Act requires provinces to identify critical habitat for caribou herds

Grieving together, but apart: How funeral homes are handling the pandemic

‘Hugs are so important and right now hugs can’t happen’

Parts of the TCT through Princeton will open to motorized vehicles Monday

Parts of the KVR trail through Princeton will open for motorized vehicles… Continue reading

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

North Okanagan farmers’ markets excited to welcome artisans back amid COVID-19

Provincial health officer announced non-food items to return to markets this weekend

Most Read