Doug Scott was the head of the Gaming Police and Enforcement Branch from 2011 to 2013 testified in the latest inquiry into the money laundering investigation by the Cullen’s Commission. According to his statements, Mr. Scott did not believe that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police did not do enough in order to prevent the occurring money laundering schemes on the casinos’ premises.
The Branch’s manager’s experience with the police department left him to the notion that the law-enforcement did not have the needed tools or intention to tackle the ongoing money-laundering operations. With bags of CA$20 bills being used in B.C. casinos with no opposing measures being taken, which led to millions of dollars being washed. His testimony supported other claims that pointed to other participant’s failures in the investigations.
The now-current deputy minister of Finance, Doug Scott, stated in the hearing, that he had lost hope in the police department due to lack of capacity in financial crime. He additionally said that he purposely did not inform the police of concern raised by casino investigators, since he had doubted that this will attract the police department’s attention.
In further statements, Mr. Scott expressed his surprise at how slow the investigation was moving in the two years when he headed the GPEB, despite the case being classified as a top priority by the branch. He also stated that upon his assignment, Branch’s investigator Larry Vander Graaf told him that the organization did not have nor the tools neither the authority to engage in this potentially dangerous investigation. And that the Crown corporation did not approve of interviewing high-rolling casino players who used huge amounts of cash.
According to the Branch’s former boss, back then there was a significant “gulf” of opinions between the two Crown corporations, and that the branch was on a whole other wave of how to proceed in the situation. BCLC’s lawyers have accused GPEB of a misunderstanding of authority, by claiming that the branch’s investigators did not approach a single suspicious gambler about the source of money.
One of the Crown agency’s lawyers Bill Smart, asked Mr. Scott, whether the anti-money laundering direction was forwarded to his superiors in the ministry, to which the latter admitted of not doing, but in his words, the ministry was aware of the circumstances, and that it was working on a different approach to determining the cash amounts. According to the ex-manager of the branch, he should have accelerated the issue of a policy about interviewing high-rolling players.
Mr. Scott also admitted that he did not consider BCLC’s views as valid, as the corporation insisted that the high-profile clients only used cash amounts due to cultural reasons. He also stated that the BCLC’s alternative cash program was not viable since it was voluntary. Other proposals for putting a limit on cash buy-ins were also not practical since it would impact honest players, according to Mr. Scott.
B.C. Casinos Did Not Mind the Suspicious Cash
We have heard plenty of versions on the subject of money laundering in British Columbia’s casinos, thanks to the Cullen Commission’s investigation. We learned that despite video footage of casinos accepting large cash amount transactions, the Crown corporation was not in a haste to intervene with the alleged drug money. It became known that casinos accepted big cash sums with the premise that the client is purely rich or simply famous.
Potential Losses Concerns
From the investigation, we were also able to learn that the Crown agency did not consider adopting the anti-money laundering directive as an urgent matter. Allegedly former chair of the company’s board did not inform the provincial gaming minister of the illegal activities due to concerns that casinos will lose on loyal high-rolling clients by scaring them away, resulting in revenue drops.
Source: Wood, Graeme, “Casino investigation boss lacked confidence in RCMP financial crime unit”, Pique, February 9, 2021