The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia continues its daily hearings bringing tons of essential information on the practices employed by British Columbia casinos throughout the years. Monday heard from Mike Hiller, a former BCLC investigator, who pointed out that investigators were told that bringing large cash buy-ins was just a habit of Chinese high rollers.
In-person gaming in British Columbia has been among the topics of wide discussion for years now, as Asian high rollers have always found the Richmond area attractive when it comes to their gambling activities. Casinos such as River Rock Casino have welcomed millions in cash buy-ins over the past two decades and the larger chunk of those came in duffel bags filled with CA$20 bills.
This is the predominant information the Cullen Commission has been hearing over the past couple of weeks. The beginning of the third week of daily hearings brought more details around the way this happened and the explanation senior staff at the British Columbia Lottery Corporation tried to give to these activities. Money laundering concerns were voiced during the probe process.
Mr. Hiller revealed that as soon as he commenced the probe into the daily gaming activities at River Rock Casino, he noticed the indicators of money laundering. Those were the bags filled with CA$20 bills that were making their ways into the gambling hotspot and supporting Chinese players’ gaming activities. This happened on a frequent basis while the individuals were engaging in in-person gambling on the premises of the casino. Concerns were raised with the Crown corporation at the time.
This is when senior staff made an attempt to find a reasonable explanation for the substantial buy-ins delivered at River Rock Casino in Richmond. Back in 2013, the Crown corporation’s then Vice-President of Corporate Security and Compliance Brad Demarais informed casino investigators that the large cash buy-ins might be a cultural thing Chinese players are used to while gambling in-person.
More Hearings to Come
Chinese individuals were also reported bringing cash into Canada while traveling, as reported back in 2012, and this gave the British Columbia Lottery Corporation more confidence in its theory that Asian players prefer to operate in cash regardless of the field they involve in. Mr. Hiller was closely monitoring the subject and investigating it.
He worked on a report back in 2014, dedicated to the underground banks British Columbia is renowned for. He made it clear that Chinese high rollers fuel this underground economy with their gambling activities. This report ended up triggering zero feedback or response from the Crown corporation’s superiors. Mr. Hiller’s professional experience in an Asian crime unit monitoring heroin trafficking prepared him for his position at BCLC.
The investigator confirmed a previously discussed model which has seen organized crime members offer Chinese high rollers cash for their gambling activities, enabling money laundering. Moreover, the players borrowed money and were later on returning it to the respective criminal organization back in China. This week is set to see more money laundering details revealed by insiders.