Former director of anti-money laundering operations Ross Alderson has finally reappeared at the Cullen’s Commission to give more testimony in the money-laundering investigation. The commission has put lots of effort into contacting Mr. Alderson, and after he answered the call in May, he is now ready to give another set of testimony this Thursday and Friday.
The Cullen Commission has been mandated in investigating whether or not actual money-laundering activities have occurred on the territory of B.C. casinos in the last two decades. The inquiry led by Commissioner Austin Cullen now has to help prevent such cases in the future and compile a final report on the matter in December.
On Thursday, Mr. Alderson said that after he started work as a casino investigator at River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond back in 2011 that he was stunned by the amount of cash used by high-rollers in the casino. He explained that the money was often delivered to the players from vehicles that would stop in front of the casino or by high-rollers making a phone call and receiving a package of cash.
According to him, the transaction in cash would often reach CA$500,000. Mr. Alderson also stated that he and one of his colleagues, crime investigator Mike Hiller believed that the money originated from criminal activities. Mr. Alderson explained that once when he tried to intervene in what he believed was a money-washing transaction, the casino’s general manager stopped him as he had no authority to question gamblers or intercept transactions.
The witness continued by saying that the dispute with the manager was followed by a meeting with other investigators and BCLC officials Terry Towns and Gord Friesen. Mr. Alderson claimed that Mr. Towns who was director of compliance had ordered him not to question the casino’s patrons and their source of cash. The former investigator also discussed the matter with Mr. Friesen who told him that it is all about keeping the revenue high.
Mr. Alderson also said that he knew that in 2014, Mr. Hiller has forwarded a report to the Crown corporation, stating that a network of high-rollers from Mainland China. They gambled at the casinos using cash loans from notorious loan sharks, who were involved in drug trafficking, and then the loans were repaid in China for low fees. Mr. Alderson will continue his testimony on Friday.
Back in the April cross-examination by the commission in April, former gaming minister Richard Coleman was resummoned to testify. Mr. Coleman faced some serious accusations at the inquiry such as deliberately turning a blind eye to the illegal activities at the B.C. casinos and manipulating the RCMP. He was also blamed for not providing enough police in the investigations and for the dismissal of the anti-illegal gaming unit in 2009.
Former solicitor-general Kash Heed has also been questioned in the money-laundering inquiry a few months ago. Mr. Heed was examined for a recorded phone call between him and his lifelong friend and RCMP officer Fred Pinnock. During the phone call, Mr. Heed describes Mr. Coleman as “the most unethical group of people you can imagine”, however, Mr. Heed stated that this was rather his own opinion and not based on facts.
Source: Cooper, Sam “BC Lottery Corp. brass bowed to revenue pressure from casino managers, inquiry hears”, Global News, September 9, 2021