Industry Reports

GPEB Money-Laundering Warnings Prompted No Action

The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia saw its most recent daily hearing on the subject this Thursday, shedding more light on the situation on a provincial level. Larry Vander Graaf, former Executive Director of the British Columbia Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch, had the chance to speak before the commission.

Casino locations in British Columbia and the gambling scene as s whole have been considered a weak link when it comes to money laundering practices. Over the past couple of weeks, the Cullen Commission hears the stories of individuals that have seen things with their eyes and monitored the field for years. Mr. Vander Graaf revealed more of his personal experience with the criminal practice.

Money Laundering

This Thursday was an important day for the ex-Executive Director, as he told his story for everyone to hear. He revealed that his previous concerns with money laundering have been addressed with the minister responsible for gaming at the time but they did not receive the attention needed. Mr. Vander Graaf notified Rich Coleman about the findings that casino investigators have come across.

Back in 2010, the continuous monitoring over casino operation in the region came to the conclusion that the casino venues and gambling halls overseen by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation had been witnessing a substantial amount of money laundered. The casino investigators pointed out to then-Minister Coleman that they believe those are the proceeds of drug trafficking in need to be laundered.

The local gambling field, along with the real estate one have been facilitating this process over the past two decades. When it comes to the casino probe proves, it revealed that CA$20 bills are commonly used for this practice and high rollers were using entire duffel bags filled with cash provided by the loan sharks. The Cullen Commission heard that the Liberal Government at the time did nothing to prevent this practice despite warnings.

B.C. Casinos

Moreover, the former Executive Director of the B.C. Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch expressed his personal opinion that he might have been fired from his position in 2014 because of his battle against money laundering. He said this week that the continuous recommendations he was making might have rubbed superior the wrong way. Mr. Vander Graaf believed they were worried about the impact this could have on gaming revenue.

There was CCTV footage showing the very process of money laundering on the premises of the gaming hotspots, as individuals were delivering bags filled with cash bricks of CA$20 bills ready to be used for buy-ins. The former Executive Director had a conversation with the then-Minister and his deputies, discussing the subject for about 20 minutes and voicing his concerns.

Once they heard everything, deputy Lori Wannamaker said that something should be done about this situation, but no real action was taken past that point. Mr. Coleman would like to participate in the Cullen Commission hearings in the spring of 2021 where he would most likely defend his position that he supported money laundering battle in any way possible.