B.C. government announces review of possible money laundering at casino
Taylor Rae - Assistant Editor
Image Credit: Shutterstock
September 22, 2017 - 7:45 PM
VICTORIA - British Columbia's attorney general has announced a review of the province's anti-money laundering policies after reading a report about a casino taking in $13.5 million that police said could be proceeds of crime.
The July 2016 report was commission by the former Liberal government, and David Eby said in a statement released Friday that the report should have been made public when it was completed.
"The problem of money laundering is complex, but a committed government can make a difference," Eby said. "We are serious about doing everything we can to identify money laundering activities, and ensure policies are in place to prevent it from occurring in B.C. casinos."
Eby said he will announce the appointment of an independent expert to determine if there are unaddressed issues of money laundering in Lower Mainland casinos.
The report, done by the accounting and consulting firm MNP, says B.C.'s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch compiled documents that identified about $13.5 million in $20 bills being accepted at the River Rock Casino in Richmond during July 2015.
"The majority of this cash is being presented by persons commonly referred to as high roller Asian VIP clients," the report says.
It says single cash buy-ins in excess of $500,000 with no known source of funds were accepted at River Rock.
"Law enforcement intelligence has indicated that this currency may be the direct proceeds of crime," the report says.
"Criminal activity and money laundering in our casinos and elsewhere in B.C. will not be tolerated," said Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
He said such investigations take time because of the many moving pieces, but police and the gaming policy enforcement breach have had good success.
The report makes more than a dozen recommendations, including implementing policies that casinos refuse unsourced cash deposits exceeding an established dollar amount, that anti-money laundering training programs are evaluated, and that casinos work to support cash-alternatives.
"The issues of casinos, (River Rock) in particular, accepting large volumes of cash has been a growing issue in the province for a number of years," the report says. "The source of the cash is now in question, and social and moral responsibility around the unsourced cash has resulted in negative media around gaming operations in B.C."
A B.C. Lottery Corp. document in response says many recommendations in the report have been addressed though it's awaiting more direction from the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch on dealing with and refusing large, unsourced cash deposits.
"We take our responsibility to manage gaming in our province very seriously and always welcome the opportunity to improve our practices," said B.C. Lottery Corp. CEO Jim Lightbody in a news release. "We have zero tolerance for criminals who may attempt to target our business."
The MNP cautions that its report wasn't meant to provide an analysis about whether money laundering or terrorist financing is actually occurring within B.C.'s casinos.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2017