RCMP tasks feds’ Sensitive Investigations Unit with B.C. ‘cash-for-access’ case
Criminal donation allegations just the latest high-stakes political investigation within the Federal Serious and Organized Crime section.
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It’s been only one week since British Columbia’s largely unregulated political donations — which Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher told Metro amounts to a “system of legalized bribery” — became part of the RCMP’s caseload last Friday.
But the national force’s criminal investigation into lobbyists’ alleged “cash-for-access” to BC Liberal government ministers is already rolling along, it appears.
Several sources told Metro the RCMP’s Sensitive Investigations Unit was in contact with them this week to request any information related to the allegations.
“We handed over some files, and put a whistleblower in touch with the police,” said the Dogwood Initiative’s Kai Nagata, who has raised concerns about donations from several Kinder Morgan employees, including the pipeline company’s president. “I get the sense they’re taking it seriously — they appear to have resources and they’re not losing any time getting to work on this.”
Metro also confirmed the Unit approached another source — who spoke on condition of anonymity — earlier this week.
The high-level federal RCMP unit operates under the Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) section’s Financial Integrity Group, which is based in Surrey, B.C. FSOC oversees integrated law enforcement units on everything from corruption to terrorism, money laundering and human trafficking, according to its website.
The BC Liberals have been dogged by allegations in the Globe and Mail that lobbyists made illegal “indirect” donations to government ministers later reimbursed for them by their employers. If confirmed, the practice is illegal, and Elections B.C. handed the file to the RCMP last week.
Conacher said voters need the truth before B.C. election. He wants an arms-length special prosecutor named to consider charges before May 9 "because of the sensitivity of this,” he said, “and the temptation for politicians to intervene."
IntegrityBC's Dermod Travis said RCMP must have enough time for its case, but the election timing "is a bit of a Catch-22."
“It’s a no-win position for the RCMP,” said Travis, “because if they were to announce three days before the vote that it is or is not laying charges, it would be seen as interfering in the political process, just as the FBI was accused of doing before the last American election. It is a bit of a Catch 22 related to timing.”
The RCMP weren't available for an interview Thursday.