Prime Time Crime

Liberals reject probe of Hong Kong embassy

Stewart Bell  

National Post

Friday, September 20, 2003

 

The Liberal government rebuffed calls yesterday for a public inquiry into allegations the RCMP was pressured to drop an investigation into alleged corruption at the Canadian High Commission in Hong Kong.

In the House of Commons, the opposition asked whether the government would probe "very disturbing" questions about matters raised in a report by the RCMP's external review committee

"The RCMP review committee concluded that the RCMP failed to properly investigate allegations of widespread corruption of the Canadian High Commission in Hong Kong," said Myron Thompson, Canadian Alliance MP for Wild Rose. "This resulted in Asian organized crime figures entering Canada. What is at issue is whether or not the RCMP deliberately failed to investigate incidents that suggested a fraud ring was operating in the Hong Kong mission."

He asked whether Wayne Easter, the Solicitor-General, would "arrange a public inquiry to dispel any misconceptions that the RCMP deliberately failed to do its job and determine who has been pressuring it to drop this case."

Marlene Jennings, the parliamentary secretary to the Solicitor-General, responded by accusing the Canadian Alliance of "casting aspersions" on the police and said the government takes security threats seriously.

Calls for an inquiry surfaced after the National Post revealed this week a government committee concluded the RCMP failed to properly probe allegations staff at the Hong Kong embassy were taking bribes to help Asian triad members emigrate to Canada.

The committee said the RCMP "consistently demonstrated a reluctance to investigate" the allegations, and quoted from witnesses and documents that referred to pressures being applied to the police force. The RCMP liaison officer in Hong Kong, for example, wrote that the Canadian ambassador "will be screaming at the highest political levels" if a probe of the embassy went ahead. A staff-sergeant who oversaw one investigation said he was left with the impression the Department of Foreign Affairs "had pressured the force into curtailing the investigation because it did not want the force to know what had truly happened."

Staff at the High Commission were accused of taking $10,000 bribes from Hong Kong residents wanting to move to Canada.

The report has gone to Giuliano Zaccardelli, the RCMP Commissioner, who must either accept or reject the findings. "There is an ongoing internal disciplinary hearing. We will not comment in order to ensure that it is fair," Ms. Jennings said.

 

Copyright  2003 National Post

 

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