Money-laundering is slowly but surely becoming one of the hot topics not only in British Columbia but also across Canada, as more revelations continue to stir the pot on a regular basis. Recent speculations and allegations about the true nature of government-run casino venues prompted the British Columbia Lottery Corporation to issue its own position on the subject in response to the accusations that it had allowed money laundering to progress over the span of a decade.
Last week one particular statement was able to cause serious concern across the province, triggering speculations and even more fervent support of a public inquiry seeking the truth. Joe Schalk, former Senior Director of Investigations for British Columbia Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch stated that ever since 2008 all the way to 2014 when he lost his job, he had been sending signals to the government about potential money-laundering actions including copious amounts of cash and suspicious transactions in British Columbia casino venues.
Corporation Claims It Wants What’s Best for the Community
River Rock located in Richmond was one of the venues which were mentioned often in those reports. Mr. Schalk claimed that the government was aware of the ongoing criminal activity and the only reason for its inaction could be that it was benefitting from it. Later on, in 2014 he was suspended allegedly without an explanation as to why he has to put an end to his career and he suspects that the reason might be his reports.
The lottery corporation that oversees the operation of government-run casino venues was quick to make its position clear with the help of an official statement. BCLC pointed out that all allegations that it was in the know and still allowed nearly CA$2 billion to be laundered via its casino venues are unsubstantiated. The corporation stated that actions were taken as soon as they received the information and researched the issue at hand. At this point, the lottery corporation works closely with the law-enforcement authorities and British Columbia regulators.
In order to prevent the illegal practice from taking place in the future, measures would have to be taken and the province is currently working on its Gaming Control Act. BCLC also pointed out that the corporation does not have the authority to conduct probes seeking the answers to a certain allegation. This is why it collaborates with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada and the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch.
Previously Disclosed Information Contradicts Claims
The former one makes sure that gaming operation across the province is conducted in a lawful manner and aligns with the existing regulations. One of the highly discussed regulations mandates every cash transaction surpassing CA$10,000 to be reported to FINTRAC, seeking control and prevention of money-laundering. The latter provides the needed oversight of the field and works towards the improvement of gambling field integrity.
BCLC made it clear that in this ever-changing field criminals are also flexible, which prompts regulators and corporations to keep up to date with their approaches. The requirement that each transaction surpassing the CA$10,000 mark is reported led to a decline in the suspicious transactions rate in the past years. Furthermore, the corporation has imposed a ban on 425 high-risk individuals prohibiting them from entering government-run casino venues.
However, Paul King Jin, well-known loan-shark who was banned from casino venues in 2012 still had the chance to supposedly wash some CA$4.2 million at River Rock Casino in Richmond over 2014 and 2015. He was allowed in the gaming venue and his moneylending to Chinese high-rollers is caught on tape for years, further fueling the speculations that it might be benefitting from the criminal activity.
As more and more community members and officials are chiming in in support of public inquiry, it could happen in the foreseeable future, giving everyone in possession of information the chance to share it and improve the gaming operation in British Columbia.