The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia is having a productive week of hearings linked to the alleged criminal activities that have been taking place within the province. This Tuesday witnessed Ward Clapham, former superintendent at Richmond RCMP, share his personal experience with money laundering in the region and River Rock Casino and Resort in particular.
For decades now, River Rock Casino in Richmond is considered one of the casino locations raising suspicions when it comes to money laundering. High rollers have been reported making their way there with large quantities of cash being transported in duffel bags and CA$20 bills. Local loan sharks fueling high rollers’ gaming activities have also participated in the process, as seen on CCTV.
October 27 saw a new batch of hearings in relation to money laundering practices in the provincial gambling field. Back in 2004, Mr. Clapham was Richmond’s police chief and he kept a close eye on everything happening in the area. He pointed out in his Tuesday hearing that once River Rock Casino and Resort launched operation, a shift was immediately felt.
The impact of daily casino operation on the Richmond area was palpable back in the days and Mr. Clapham felt the need to contact his district commander at the end of that year. What concerned him back then was the negative impact this operation could have on the community, referring to it as ‘a growing monster’. Over the course of the following months, his worries proved to be reasonable.
There are reports of kidnappings, extortion, assaults, and loan sharking on the premises of the casino resort taking place around that time. Mr. Clapham also pointed out that illegal gambling dens were also proliferating at the time and many new locations emerged. This, in turn, drew organized criminals from near and far, ready to take advantage of them.
These factors increased his worries regarding the criminal activity in his region and he made it clear that more money was needed for monitoring the casino location. This request was filed with the City of Richmond but it did not receive the expected response. On the contrary, Mr. Clapham said that they were not ready to provide more money for policing, as the federal RCMP and British Columbia’s unit were already performing the monitoring.
The Cullen Commission also heard this Tuesday that a senior executive at Great Canadian Gaming Corporation had an issue with Mr. Clapham patrolling around and into the Richmond casino venue. Regardless of that exchange, the police officer in charge continued his uniformed visits. The year 2007 saw the first allocation to four additional police officers to keep a close eye on the casino venue area.
Over the years, these allocations have reached some CA$8.5 million. The year 2000 saw the first gaming revenue allocation coming from River Rock Casino. For the past two decades, those allocations have reached CA$246 million in total. More hearings are expected to take place this week, offering more insights into Richmond’s and B.C.’s gambling field.