Wednesday’s inquiry of Cullen Commission’s investigation into money washing activities in British Columbia casinos has heard testimony from a former employee and V.I.P gambler Qi “Coco” Li. According to which huge amounts of cash and casino chips were passed around by high-rolling players in the gaming properties’ VIP rooms without anyone bothering them.
The now-former dealer was banned from entering the casinos’ premises in 2015, for allegedly accepting large amounts of cash transactions. It was believed that alone Ms. Li helped Chinese high rollers who were connected to organized crime groups wash tons of cash before she was banned. However, she denied introducing one of the gamblers to loan shark Paul King Jin.
At the hearing, Ms. Li, who is a former Vancouver Edgewater Casino employee, admitted to having helped River Rock baccarat players on several occasions with huge cash sums and chips transactions. Those players were on the RCMP and the Crown Corporation’s radar of being involved with another loan shark known as Kwok Chung Tam.
The former dealer confessed that due to her gambling addiction she had started making errands for high-profile Chinese players at River Rock’s baccarat tables, who were betting a CA$100,000 per hand. She even managed to create a River Rock “VIP” account by forging her own information and lying about her occupation. According to her, there was no supervision or background check of the applicants.
Commission counsel Eileen Patel and Lottery Corp. counsel Bill Smart went through some of Ms. Li’s suspicious transactions when she was employed by the casino. One of them was CA$400,000 cash approval in November 2014 that was tied to high roller Kesi Wei, who was previously linked with Mr. Tam and Mr. Jin. Another instance was presented by the counsel, this time with CA$1.4 million in cash deliveries for players named Mr. Xia, Mr. Sha, and a high roller named Long Jiang Wang.
The former casino employee admitted that she had to welcome at the local airport many Chinese individuals who were ready to bet serious amounts of money in the casinos. Despite admitting to the presence of huge cash amounts she claimed she did not know the source of money and her task was only to take care of Mr. Xia and Mr.Sha’s demands.
Additionally, Ms. Li admitted to having delivered a bag of CA$300,000 in cash to a gambler named Jia Gui Gao in River Rock Casino, and a few days later deliver another huge CA$500,000 in casino chips to Mr. Gao’s private “VIP” in the same gambling venue. She denied knowingly breaking the money laundering protocols by claiming that she was not aware of what was in the bags.
Previous inquiry heard more on the case from the police department’s point of view and investigations with Cpl. Melvin Chizawsky giving testimony. According to him Silver International and Mr. Jin cooperated in helping drug trafficking organizations by providing them with Canadian currency, which was later gambled in the province’s casinos. The company’s financial records show that the company’s unknown funds exchange took CA$200 million in cash and paid out CA$217 to different locations around the world.
From the February 11, 2021, inquiry we learned that former President of BCLC Michael Graydon did not consider the money laundering measure as a top priority. Email correspondence was read at the inquiry, where Mr. Graydon encouraged his then-colleagues to meet budget expectations and generate as much as possible additional revenue for the industry in order to receive their bonus incentives.
Source: Cooper, Sam “Banned casino dealer denies introducing high roller to gang suspect, B.C. inquiry hears”, Global News, March 3, 2021