British Columbia Money Laundering Report Calls for New Provincial Watchdog
Published: June 23, 2022
The final report on money laundering in British Columbia has revealed that provincial authorities were aware of the growing problem in the provincial casino. The results of the inquiry call for an establishment of a new regulatory body.
The report finds that the former premier and the provincial gaming minister are among officials that failed to act and prevent suspected money from flooding casinos in British Columbia.
Official ignored warning on several occasions. However, there‘s no evidence of corruption among the top provincial officials. Federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Fintrac anti-money laundering agency also contributed to the situation by failing to act in time.
The first growth in cash transactions was noticed in 2008 and continued until 2014. The 1,800-page report found that the entire British Columbia economy faced a considerable money laundering risk.
At the same time, Fintrac‘s reporting mechanism was described as ineffective. It also blames the RCMP and its lack of attention for the unabated increase in money laundering.
The report calls for the establishment of a money-laundering investigation unit.
Commissioner Austin Cullen started the inquiry in 2019. During the investigation, he collected more than 200 testimonies and estimated that billions of dollars had been laundered in B.C. casinos.
According to information collected during the inquiry, loan sharks delivered proceeds from drug trafficking to Chinese high rollers who travelled to Canada to play baccarat. The high-profile foreign gamblers paid back the funds through transactions in China and Hong Kong.
A 2010 investigation showed that the Starlight Casino in New Westminster and River Rock Casino in Richmond represented the main targets.
These two venues were a source of a significant money laundering activity, using gamblers from China. Unfortunately, this investigation ended in 2012 after it failed to obtain federal funds.
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation announced it would review Cullen‘s report and continue to work with the government.
The crown corporation‘s Chief Compliance Officer, Marie-Noelle Saovie, pointed out that BCLC would go over and beyond to protect casinos and players in the province from any sort of crimes, including the financial ones.