The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia recently heard more on the topic of money laundering in the province. This Tuesday saw Rob Barber, a former Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch investigator, shared his experience with the criminal practice and the response he received back in the days.
Over the past two weeks, the Cullen Commission has been holding daily hearings of gambling-related officials able to present their point of view and personal experience in the money laundering battle in British Columbia. The ultimate goal for the commission is to amass enough evidence for the creation of an extensive report to be issued in mid-November. Then the work on a larger report will continue.
Mr. Barber had the right to speak on November 3, sharing his personal experience. He said that between 2010 and 2015 his investigator’s daily work gave him a good idea of the criminal practices taking place in the provincial gambling field. River Rock Casino in Richmond was a gambling hotspot attracting the proceeds of drug trafficking and selling, as he put it.
He noticed the suspicious transactions as soon as he began monitoring the gaming field in the region, but it soon became clear that nobody was trying to prevent those from happening. Neither the British Columbia Lottery Corporation nor the provincial gambling regulator were eager to put an end to the substantial cash transactions taking place at River Rock Casino. As time progressed, both their frequency and the amount increased but they continued.
About a year after Mr. Barber commenced his work as an investigator of the enforcement branch he decided to speak with Doug Scott, an Associate Deputy Minister in the government at the time. The investigator addressed the growing issue at River Rock Casino and pointed out that action has to take place in a timely manner. His words left Mr. Scott unphased and he simply left without saying a word.
River Rock Casino
Mr. Barber told the Cullen Commission that he is positive that Mr. Scott had heard him, as he looked at him. He also pointed out that ahead of the encounter, he was confident that Mr. Scott is aware of the money laundering practice at the casino location. Another attempt at battling the criminal practice was made in 2015.
A brand manager had a conversation with Cheryl Wenezenki Yolland on the subject and she said back then that the enforcement branch should take care of the issue. This Tuesday heard once again that the investigators at British Columbia Lottery Corporation were working on their reports following the activities of local loan sharks and high rollers binging CA$20 bills at the casino. However, their intelligence reports failed to achieve their goal.
Muriel Labine, a former employee at River Rock Casino also spoke before the commission. She worked there between 1992 and 2000 and she made it clear that loan sharks commenced their operation around 1997. As it could be recalled, this was when the B.C. government greenlighted betting limits of CA$500 per hand. Baccarat was also introduced around that time. At the time, Ms. Labine’s floor manager warned her to stay away from the loan sharks, as they might be dangerous.