Mere months ago, British Columbia Lottery Corp. (BCLC) has found itself in the middle of a money laundering firestorm, after a shelved casino report showed lapses in anti-money laundering controls at British Columbia. The scandal undermined BCLC’s authority, which holds the monopoly over the casino industry in the Canadian province. The casino industry in British Columbia has turned into an easy prey for criminals, who started to use local brick-and-mortar casinos as a facade to hide illicit activities. This week, it surfaced that British Columbia’s government decided to provide more power to BCLC to effectively combat money laundering activities.
British Columbia has 17 land-based casinos, which are all run by BCLC. For years, the province has turned into a preferred gambling destination for high rollers from China. Experts claim that this led to the increase of money laundering and terrorism funding across the country. In September this year, the new BC government washed some dirty linen in public after it found out a year-old casino report, which unveiled alleged money laundering activity at the River Rock Casino Resort. According to the report, River Rock accepted millions in $20 bills. The large transactions involved cash flows of unknown origin. As a result, British Columbia’s government scolded BCLC for being negligent in its watchdog duties.
British Columbia Takes Action Against Money Laundering
BC government announced that it is to investigate the case and make more steps towards toughening money laundering measures. It seems that the government has already started to do its homework. The announcement of the government’s decision to grant more power to BCLC came this week. On Thursday, Attorney General David Eby announced that the provincial government is to renew its operational service agreement (OSA) with casinos, extending the operational period with another 20 years. Mr. Eby commented that the new OSA is expected to give more power to BCLC in the war against money laundering and facilitate its work.
The government is currently waiting to receive the results of an ongoing independent review, which investigates the anti-money laundering policies and practices in the gaming industry within the province. Peter German, a former deputy commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was assigned the task to conduct the review. The results are expected to be released by the end of March next year.
BCLC president Jim Lightbody added that under the new OSA, service providers are the ones, who are responsible for adopting a practical approach to anti-money laundering practices. BCLC is to survey for suspicious money transactions and oversee if the casinos work in compliance with the country’s established anti-money laundering framework. Furthermore, BCLC will be able to immediately alarm about any irregularities found out about in the independent review of anti-money laundering policies
This move is expected to lead to the expected result and curb, or at least significantly reduce money laundering activities at BC’s casinos. It is important to note that this is not the first time, in which money laundering activities at BC’s casinos have appeared on Canadian officials’ radar screens.