Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen was tasked with the responsibility of leading the public inquiry into money laundering, after three reports emerging of information of millions of dollars being laundered in real estate, luxury vehicles, and gaming industries. The topic of money laundering crime activities on casino premises has been quite controversial over the last few years with many twists and turns.
Jim Lightbody who is the current president of British Columbia Lottery Corporation said in the latest hearing of the Cullen’s Commission that he was shocked when the RCMP informed him of reports of such illegal activities. Prior to 2015, those crime activities were considered as only rumors and suspicions, until the police department officially had confirmed the developing situation.
The current president of the British Columbia-based lottery corporation, also stated that the corporation did everything it could to prevent the occurrence of money laundering activities. He claims that he was left in awe, when the RCMP, has presented him evidence of money laundering cases in casinos that were under the Crown Corporation’s jurisdiction.
Mr. Lightbody spoke to the Commission despite being on medical leave and defended the corporation’s actions. According to him, the BCLC did everything in their power to reduce the chances to a minimum of the occurrence of such illegal money laundering operations. And he also states that he first found of such activities only when he was shown evidence by the RCMP.
According to the CEO of the Crown Corporation, the casinos allowed players to use large cash transactions only because many high-profile gamblers were not fond of the idea of using cheques, banking drafts, or specialized casino credit accounts. He further explained that this was the case due to players’ privacy concerns and cultural reasons.
On Wednesday it was Cary Skrine’s turn to testify to the Cullen’s Commission. Skrine who is the executive director of investigations for the B.C. Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch testified that back in 2019, he was told that former VP of BCLC Robert Kroeker asked the anti-money laundering team to alleviate measures while investigating the illegal activities. But there is no substantial evidence to prove the allegations.
Another thing we learn from Skrine’s testimony that anti-money laundering investigator Ross Alderson and two other casino officials were told by Kroeker to loosen up anti-money laundering measures. According to Skrine, Alderson asked the two officials to record notes from the meeting in question. Not only they did not do it but they also denied being present of such comments by Kroeker.
Kroeke’s Moving Statement
During Tuesday’s part of the hearing into the public inquiry into money laundering, Robert Kroeker let the emotions get the better of him when his voice cracked when he was giving testimony. He responded to accusations that the BCLC did not react in time to successfully establish anti-money laundering measures, during his time as a Vice-President of the corporation Kroeker also added that those continuous attacks on him and his former team were “devastating” and “unfair”.
“B.C. Lottery Corporation CEO ‘blown away’ by police report of organized crime at casinos”, CBC, January 28, 2021