Secret audio recordings of former B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Kash Heed reveal how he thought the RCMP – in conjunction with his predecessor and former Mountie Rich Coleman – was an “unethical” network that was ultimately responsible for a “tsunami” of money laundering in casinos.
Heed also questioned Attorney General David Eby for hiring former RCMP leader Peter German to produce reports on money laundering in the province, according to the legal but surreptitious audio recordings submitted to the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C. by whistleblower and former Officer-in-Charge of the Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET) Fred Pinnock.
The commission heard from Pinnock last month how he recorded two private conversations with Heed on July 10, 2018, and September 7, 2018, to preserve memory of his and Heed’s dialogue on the subject during Heed’s time as minister from June 2009 to April 2010.
Pinnock testified last month about how he raised concerns to Heed in late 2009 about organized crime taking over the casinos.
“He [Heed] said to me, in effect, ‘That is what’s going on, Fred, but I can’t say that publicly; you know it’s all about the money,’” Pinnock told Commissioner Austin Cullen under oath.
“He did refer to Mr. Coleman as being largely responsible for this, as well as senior Mounties, who were complicit,” said Pinnock.
It was around 2010 when casinos were accepting increasingly large sums of cash resembling proceeds of crime from loan sharks, according to multiple accounts from casino investigators to the commission.
Heed spoke to Pinnock after an interview with Pinnock aired on Global News on July 10, 2018.
“It's ridiculous what's going on with these guys here. It's just – they're the most unethical group of people you can imagine. And then Coleman; Coleman was all part of it. It's their network that caused this tsunami to take place in the casinos,” said Heed.
Coleman made the political decision to disband IIGET in April 2009, as B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. His lawyer opposed release of the recordings, calling it “scurrilous gossip regarding dozens of individuals” and “unfounded, and inaccurate, allegations.”
The RCMP also opposed their release but Justice Austin Cullen ruled Monday they would be admitted to support Pinnock’s prior testimony.
In conversation with Pinnock, Heed also raises the possibility of a conflict of interest on the part of German.
“David [Eby] and I have been friends for years, and I actually – when he hired [redacted] to do his thing, I phoned him and gave him shit,” Heed told Pinnock, in reference to German, whose name is redacted from transcripts posted at CullenCommission.ca.
German wrote two connected reports on money laundering in B.C., titled Dirty Money – part one was on casinos and part two was on horse racing, luxury vehicles and real estate.
Neither report specifically highlights his own involvement as one of the highest-ranking RCMP bosses in B.C. during part of the period in question.
From 2005 to 2007, German was the operations officer responsible for the RCMP Lower Mainland district. He was then promoted to assistant commissioner in 2007 and served as the RCMP district commander for the Lower Mainland until February 2011, when German became the RCMP deputy commissioner – West, with “responsibility for all RCMP operations and resources in the four Western provinces and the three Northern territories,” according to German’s own online resume.
German’s reports speak to IIGET’s shortcomings until its disbandment in April 2009.
Heed elaborated on his conversation with Eby in 2018.
“I said, [redacted] was the assistant commissioner of [the Lower Mainland District] when the decision was made, and he was part of that decision-making. It was [redacted] that were part of the decision-making, were puppets for Coleman, to pull IIGET,” said Heed.
“For him [German] to all of a sudden to take advantage of this like he's the God's saviour here, I said – [expletive] sakes,” Heed told Pinnock. “Part of the problem is the minute you pulled IIGET, the minute, I said, [redacted] started to raise some concerns about of what is going on and telling what is going on in the casino, in wanting the positions filled to their capacity, all of a sudden the unit's pulled,” said Heed.
“Now, you're bringing one of the decision makers back to review it. I said, how hypocritical is that, David? He was just quiet on the phone. He was very quiet on the phone,” said Heed.
Pinnock then suggested Eby “did not know the backstory.”
“Well, no, I don't think he did,” replied Heed. “And there's a lot of people that have come to me since that. What the [expletive] is [redacted] doing? Because he's got three other contracts with him now,” said Heed, referring to German’s consulting contracts with the BC NDP.
Eby chose German, in part, because German would have been well educated in financial crime, having served in Ottawa from 2002 to 2005 as chief superintendent – director general financial crime, responsible for the RCMP’s commercial crime, corporate governance, corruption and proceeds of crime (money laundering) programs.
German is now a private consultant with his own firm, Peter German & Associates Inc., and is president of the International Center for Criminal Law Reform, a federally funded United Nations affiliate, located within Allard Law School at the University of British Columbia.
German told Glacier Media he had no role in IIGET operations, or its disbandment.
“The comments are outrageous. I had no involvement with the formation, operation or end of IIGET. It was a provincial business line team that did not report to me. I reviewed its history in Dirty Money. Furthermore, to the best of my recollection, I never met Mr. Coleman until the day that I interviewed him for my Dirty Money report,” stated German by email, when provided an opportunity to speak to Glacier Media.
German added that the structure of the RCMP is well documented and noted in his reports. German said he stands by his reports but would not elaborate any further during the testimonial phase of the inquiry.
German wrote in Dirty Money that the decision to nix IIGET was a political one: “Although the team [IIGET] had made inroads into illegal gaming, the prevailing view in government was that the results did not justify the expenditure.”
He added, “The abolition of IIGET came despite the consultative board receiving a report two months earlier from the RCMP which dealt with the extent and scope of illegal gaming in B.C.”
Both Pinnock and Heed have spoken publicly about their views on the shortcomings of the RCMP and its policing model. One recording alludes to their belief that the RCMP has overstepped its position into the political arena.
“You know, Kash, the organization's out of control. I – if the scope of whatever investigation or inquiry is expanded to include political interference in policing, there are so many examples,” said Pinnock.
“Oh, B.C.'s probably – well, they're all like that, but B.C., you know, given, you know, my experience and even trying – them trying to politically influence me when I was there – it's incredible. It's [expletive] incredible,” replied Heed.
In the discussion, Pinnock, who expresses dissatisfaction with the RCMP, alludes to how former RCMP officers, such as German, end up with government contracts.
“It's funny, old Mounties and government contracts,” he tells Heed, himself a consultant now after being former chief of the West Vancouver Police Department and a 28-year veteran of the Vancouver Police Department.
Heed told the Vancouver Sun in July 2018 how he disagreed with police escalating their budgets while crime was on the decline.
“I have a lot of respect for the men and women who are out there every night trying to make a difference. My disdain is held for the police leaders maintaining the status quo, which seems to be what their political masters want.”
The inquiry seeks, in part, to understand how bags full of suspected drug money were consistently deposited at casino cages as transnational organized crime allegedly utilized illegal underground banks connected to China to facilitate the laundering of those proceeds of crime – and despite no related criminal convictions.
Heed said he intends to testify in the New Year. It is expected Coleman will do likewise. German did not indicate whether he would elaborate on his role as assistant commissioner to the commission.