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HomeBusinessB.C.’s money laundering public inquiry will be “Lawyerpalooza”

B.C.’s money laundering public inquiry will be “Lawyerpalooza”


Bob Mackin

Call it Lawyerpalooza.

British Columbia’s public inquiry into money laundering will include a “who’s who” of more than two dozen lawyers representing the 18 parties with standing when it gets underway next month.

Lawyer Marie Henein (

“People lawyer up,” said Attorney General David Eby when asked in June 2018 about the prospects for a public inquiry. Premier John Horgan finally announced one in May of last year. It will cost at least taxpayers at least $15 million.

McMillan LLP’s Shea Coulson is representing BMW at the Cullen Commission. Mark Skwarok and Melanie Harmer of the same firm are the lawyers for Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which owns River Rock Casino Resort, the epicentre of the money laundering epidemic.

Competitor Gateway Casinos has two layers from Lawson Lundell (Laura Bevan and Meg Gaily) and one one from Bennett Jones (David Gruber).

Gruber has a BC Liberal and federal Liberal pedigree. He chairs the Vancouver-Granville federal Liberal riding association and helped Peter Wall put together the controversial pre-election ad campaign for mayoral candidate Hector Bremner in 2018. Bennett Jones is the law firm where former BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark is a senior advisor. 

Bill Smart (Hunter Litigation)

B.C. Lottery Corporation is retaining Hunter Litigation Chambers’ Bill Smart and Shannon Ramsay. Smart is a veteran criminal defence lawyer and former B.C. Supreme Court judge.

The Crown gambling company paid Hunter Litigation (aka Kardahl/Smart/Stephens/Oulton) $1.637 million in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019. CEO Jim Lightbody is represented by Robin McFee and Jessie Meikle-Kahs of Sudden, McFee and Roos LLP.

As first reported by in November, fired BCLC vice-president of security Robert Kroeker’s lawyer is Marie Henein, the flamboyant Toronto lawyer who represented Jian Gomeshi and Vice Admiral Mark Norman. Kroeker has a second lawyer from Henein Hutchison, Christine Mainville.

Government of Canada and the B.C. Government each have a trio: Jan Brongers, Judith Hoffman and B.J. Wray for Ottawa and Jacqueline Hughes, Charisse Friesen and Chantelle Rajotte for Victoria. Jitesh Mistry for the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, which represents casino workers.

David Gruber (Bennett Jones)

The inquiry is overseen by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen and has its own nine-person steal team headed by Brock Martland and Patrick McGowan. (Martland was a guest on Podcast last October.)

The inquiry legal team also includes Tam Boyar, Nicholas Isaac, Alison Latimer, Eileen Patel, Steven Davis, Kyle McCleery and Kelsey Rose.

The inquiry begins Feb. 24-28 with opening statements by participants at the Federal Court of Canada in downtown Vancouver.

It continues May 25-June 26 with overview hearings. The main event is Sept. 8-Dec. 22, when witnesses will be called to testify about gambling, real estate, legal, accounting, banking and a myriad of other topics. Those granted participation status by Cullen will be allowed to cross-examine witnesses.

An interim report is expected Nov. 15, 2020 and a final report in May 2021.

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