The British Columbia government granted a six-month extension to the money laundering probe involving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former Liberal party fundraiser, giving compliance officials a year and a half to complete an independent report.
The report of the money laundering investigation, which has been conducting interviews in preparation for the report, has already logged several hours in interviews, Liberal Premier John Horgan said in a news conference on Sunday. Horgan also said there have been more than 1,000 interviews during the inquiry, which is running as an independent arm’s-length probe in the province.
“This is not an investigation that can be done quickly,” Horgan said. “We need to get to the bottom of what took place here, and it will take time.”
The Cullen Commission was launched in 2017 in B.C. to investigate money laundering linked to the multimillion-dollar Asian real estate market.
On Dec. 1, as a key deadline approached, the commission received another request from B.C. Finance Minister Carole James for an extension from three to six months. To some critics, James was apparently extending the panel’s work as part of her political motivation.
“If the average person in this room was asked a million dollars a week for a million years to bring back to the province in exchange for infrastructure, their first priority would be to find out where the money came from and how it got here,” NDP MP Nathan Cullen said at the time. “Let’s ask [Chinese investor firms] how the money got here, and what’s coming next.”
It is unclear if an extension was granted for that purpose, but Horgan said on Sunday that the only reason the commission was allowed to have six months more was because of the massive amount of work it had done.