Following a money laundering scandal regarding casinos in British Columbia, the province’s Attorney General David Eby announced that it became certain that proceeds of crime have been laundered through casinos for many years. This is the conclusion of a newly released report which makes 48 recommendations aimed at fighting financial crime in the gambling venues across the Canadian province.
On Wednesday, Eby said in a news release that he had received the report he previously commissioned to analyze the existing anti-money laundering policies of casinos in British Columbia. Such an investigation was necessary after indications for suspicious financial transactions to and from gambling facilities in the province. There were multiple cases of large sums of money deposited into individuals’ gaming accounts that were never actually used for buying casino chips. In other instances, casinos issued massive withdrawal cheques and received deposits worth of millions of dollars in $20 bills.
The report was compiled by former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German who looked at current anti-money laundering measures and based on them, made 48 recommendations. British Columbia Attorney General believes that these recommendations will provide a strong foundation for future policies aimed at ending the illegal activity. However, he did not reveal any specifics from the report and said that he is now reviewing it. He will comment on the findings and recommendations at a later date.
Last week, Eby appeared before the House of Commons finance committee which was discussing proposed amendments to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. He urged the federal government to provide more ways and better resources for the police to track financial crime. According to Eby, local law enforcement should have easier access to the information collected by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the agency that should detect and prevent money laundering and other kinds of financial crime in the country. Another recommendation by German is that authorities should start monitoring more closely the horse-racing sector and track luxury cash purchases such as expensive cars.
Interim Anti-Money Laundering Measures Have Effect
During his presentation at the finance committee meeting in Ottawa, Attorney General Eby said that results from certain interim measures can already be seen. In January, the B.C. Lottery Corporation introduced a new policy which requires casino customers to fill in source-of-funds declarations if they spend $10,000 or more. This measure limited high-stakes games but apparently resulted in decreasing the amount of potentially crime-related transactions, according to Eby.
The suspicious transactions in casinos have decreased from record rates of CA$20 million reported in July 2015 to only $200,000 this February. Data from a previous report shows that in July 2015, the largest casino in British Columbia, the Richmond-based River Rock Casino Resort, accepted $13.5 million in $20 bills. The casino also issued large withdrawal cheques ranging in value from $600,000 to $2.4 million. However, most of these cheques were not casino winnings but simply returned funds because they were not even used for playing and buying chips.
Eby says that more steps should be taken to ensure that British Columbia casinos will no longer be used in laundering money generated from illegal activities. These cash flows go through casinos and then enter the real estate market, as well as many other sectors of the local economy.