Commissioner Austin Cullen looks at documents before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks at documents before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Witness’s memory questioned at money laundering hearing

Fred Pinnock was grilled by former B.C. cabinet member’s lawyer

A former Mountie, who says senior ministers in the B.C. Liberal government knew about suspicious cash passing through casinos, was cross examined about whether his memory is faulty this week.

Fred Pinnock was examined by Peter Senkpiel, a lawyer for former B.C. Liberal cabinet member Kash Heed.

Pinnock testified earlier in the month that Heed had confided to him that senior Liberals, including former cabinet minister and Langley MLA Rich Coleman, were aware of suspicious cash washing through B.C. casinos.

Coleman was for much of his tenure in government the minister responsible for gaming in the province. He has told the Langley Advance Times that he is confident the government did a good job. Coleman is to appear as a witness at the commission in the spring.

In the meantime, near the beginning of his cross-examination, Senkpiel asked Pinnock if he had been mistaken or untruthful in his previous testimony about interactions with Heed.

“Neither is the case,” said Pinnock, who was the head of the Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team from 2005 to 2008, after which time he retired from the RCMP. In 2009, he spoke up about suspicious cash being potentially laundered through B.C. casinos.

“It was worth a shot,” Senkpiel replied to his testimony.

READ MORE: Recorded conversations now evidence at BC money laundering inquiry

The lawyer then zeroed in on the initial meeting between Pinnock and Heed, at which Pinnock alleged Heed first confirmed to him that Coleman was aware of the suspicious money.

The meeting between the two former police officers took place just after Pinnock had gone public.

“I was absolutely gobsmacked by what Kash Heed told me that day,” Pinnock said. “I was expecting hostility [from Heed].”

He also questioned Pinnock about whether or not Heed ever really said that several senior Mounties were “puppets for Coleman.”

The phrase dod not appear in a document Pinnock wrote last year recounting his recollection of the 2009 meeting.

“Where are the words ‘puppets for Coleman’?” Senkpiel asked.

He suggested Heed never said those words to Pinnock.

Pinnock argued that Heed did repeat those words several times through the years when they spoke.

“It was like a broken record,” Pinnock said.

Senkpiel suggested that Pinnock has allowed other sources of information to “infect” his memory of his meetings with Heed, including interviews Pinnock gave around 2009.

“I think you have no recollection of what Kash Heed said to you in 2009,” Senkpiel said.

Pinnock disagreed, and insisted his memory of the meetings with Heed was solid.

Following Pinnock’s cross examination by Heed’s lawyer on Tuesday, Pinnock applied to have a portion of his evidence not published. Pending a ruling by Commissioner Austin Cullen, the webcast of the cross examination is not available on the Cullen Commission’s website.

Also pending is a decision on how much will be made public from the transcripts of three recordings Pinnock made of conversations with Kash Heed in 2018.

The Cullen Commission, officially the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, began hearings early this year.

The commission is to make findings on the extent of money laundering in B.C. and the scope and effectiveness of law enforcement efforts to stop it.

It was created in the wake of revelations that millions of dollars, often in the form of shopping and duffel bags full of cash, was being brought into B.C. casinos and exchanged for chips.

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