Government agency investigator claims ‘mental harm’ after employer ignored money laundering concerns

A senior government agency investigator has claimed ‘mental damages’ after his employer ignored his concerns that an agreement to accept a large sum of money as part of a negotiated sanction deal amounted to money laundering. ‘silver.

The investigator’s complaint is detailed in a Decision of the British Columbia Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal of April, which also highlights the man’s concerns, a former police officer, about his employer’s decision to seize the products of an Indigenous business in a way he says “perpetuates ‘obsessive governance “indigenous people”.

The man’s name and the agency he worked for are deleted from the decision, which also says an official warned the man that his employer had a ‘long memory’ after he repeated his belief that the agency had “laundered dirty money”.

WorkSafeBC and the appeals tribunal both dismissed the man’s claim, finding that none of the events he described were “traumatic” or could be considered “significant stressors” that had triggered his pre-existing post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cash payment “problematic”

Despite the lack of precise details, the decision – written by the tribunal’s vice president, Anand Banerjee – opens a window into a conflict within the government over possible money laundering when the issue is at the center of attention in Colombia. British.

The commissioner of a public inquiry into money laundering released a report Wednesday saying the province needs to establish an investigation and intelligence-gathering unit to deal with the problem.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen says the province should also appoint an Anti-Money Laundering Commissioner to oversee B.C.’s strategy to combat the flow of dirty money in many sectors of the economy.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen speaks to Vancouver media after the release of the Cullen Commission report into money laundering in B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

According to the appeal tribunal’s decision, the investigator who filed the complaint was an unnamed police sergeant who “served his country and British Columbia for 26 years.”

He cited three elements in his claim of “moral prejudice”.

The first dispute arose in June 2020 when the man learned that a “monetary penalty imposed by his employer on a violator had been negotiated down by approximately 50% and paid in cash”.

“The worker believed that this large cash payment was problematic and in fact suggested that his employer had received proceeds of crime, making him liable to prosecution for money laundering,” the decision states.

The agency’s chief executive told the man the decision had been cleared by legal counsel and passed through the government’s Financial Services Directorate.

But no matter how many lawyers his employer cited to justify the decision, “it was my opinion as a former police officer that what he ultimately did was against the law,” the man said. , according to the court’s decision.

The next concern was the seizure of an Aboriginal business, which the man said was done within the law; nevertheless, he believed it to be untrue.

“He expressed the view that because of his personal ‘moral’ beliefs, the law should not have been applied in this case,” the decision reads.

Finally, the man expressed concern about how investigative documents were reviewed by a lawyer and “written and rewritten.”

“From this perspective, this practice ‘negated and did not truly follow’ the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice,” the decision says.

“Experience does not equal expertise”

The worker filed a workplace compensation claim after attending an in-person residential treatment center in early 2021. According to the decision, he has a long-standing history of PTSD and major depression.

The WorkSafeBC officer who initially dismissed the man’s claim acknowledged that the “decision to accept a large cash payment from a debtor and legally seize [a product] of a native [business type omitted] store was upsetting to you and against your morals and values.”

But the officer did not find that the employer had acted in an “abusive or threatening manner”.

In the appeal decision, Banerjee accepted that the worker’s experience as a police officer might have given him insight into proceeds of crime laws.

“However, experience does not equate to expertise,” Banerjee said, noting that it was unclear why the man thought his view of the situation should trump the legal opinion sought. by his employer.

Ultimately, Banerjee concluded that “the source of the worker’s conflict with the employer in all these matters appears to be a fundamental disagreement with the company and the operations of the employer”.

He compared the situation to one in which an environmental activist might experience stress and “moral outrage” if they were working for an oil and gas company involved in fracking.

But Banerjee said a moral disagreement would not fall into the category of undue stress emerging in the “normal pressures or strains of a worker’s job” – the obstacle to a claim.

He also said the warning about the employer’s “long memory” was not unreasonable in a context where the employee refused to back down from his criminal allegations.

“Just as workers should be free to raise concerns about illegal or unethical behavior in the workplace without fear of reprisal, employers should not have to face ongoing allegations of serious criminality on the part of their employees,” Banerjee wrote.