Industry Reports

British Columbia Wants More Tools to Fight Money Laundering in Casinos

British Columbia attorney general David Eby will request from the federal government more tools in the fight against money laundering linked with casinos in the province. His recommendations will include information sharing by the Canadian anti-money laundering regulator FINTRAC and other measures that fall under Ottawa’s jurisdiction.

In a statement, the attorney general’s office announced that he would appear before the House of Commons finance committee on Tuesday. Eby will ask the government for assistance in fighting money-laundering practices and tracking financial criminals. He will make various recommendations such as monitoring of large cash retail purchases and the purchases of luxury cars in Greater Vancouver, in particular, as these transactions can be used for introducing illegal cash into the economy. The proposed measures are a result of a 2017 investigation into organized crime and money laundering linked with British Columbia casinos.

This review of the gambling industry in British Columbia began last September and is to be published by the end of March. Leading investigator Peter German, former deputy commissioner at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), has been looking into the anti-money laundering policies in the province and has already made several interim recommendations. Based on them, provincial authorities approved certain changes such as requiring gamblers who spend more than CA$10,000 in casinos over a 24-hour period to prove the source of their money. The British Columbia Lottery Corporation requires patrons to fill in declaration forms and provide transaction receipts for all transfers used for casino deposits.

The federal committee is now reviewing Canada’s Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act, which includes new penalties for money-laundering crimes. According to Eby, the federal government should provide the province with more tools to track financial crimes. B.C.’s attorney general also said that the local law enforcement needs more resources to follow leads provided by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). The anti-money laundering regulator should start sharing more information with the police that is now responsible for investigating the white-collar crime, as the RCMP has focused on task-force-based investigations in the past few years.

Full Report on Money Laundering to Appear Soon

Peter German’s full report on the anti-money laundering measures in the province’s gambling industry will be released by the end of March. The probe was commisioned by the attorney general last year after the results of an alarming report were made public. According to it, the River Rock Casino in Richmond, B.C., had accepted $13.5 million in $20 bills within just a month in 2015. The police believe that this money could be the proceeds of criminal activity, although the Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which operates the casino, says that all compliance procedures have been strictly followed.

Investigators point out that patrons at River Rock Casino could make large cash deposits and store their money in their casino accounts without declaring where the money came from. There was also suspicious activity linked with high-stakes table games, where some customers had lost huge amounts of funds on single, sizable bets. In 2016, the casino issued over 20 cheques for withdrawals of considerable amounts of funds. Some of these cheques were given to players who did not even buy chips – they made deposits into their gaming accounts without actually playing at the casino.

According to the Eby, these suspicious financial transactions are a scheme under which British Columbia Casinos are used for laundering money generated from criminal activity. Last month, German’s investigation expanded to include leads on money laundering in the real estate market and the activities of fentanyl dealers.