This Wednesday, the BC Prosecution Service reported that the massive money laundering investigation into provincial casinos will not lead to any criminal charges. Also known as E-Nationalize, the inquiry was one of the largest investigations by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia, but after two assessments no charges will be pressed.
The first assessment was conducted by Crown prosecutors and the next one was performed by an independent one by Victoria-based criminal lawyer Christopher Considine KC. And despite the investigation finding millions of dollars of suspicious cash transactions in Richmond casinos, Mr. Considine said that will not proceed with charges as the police did not identify a viable predicate offence.
Mr. Considine kicked off his assessment of the case in March 2022, and its review he marked with ‘X’ investigation’s key target as ‘X’ and the letters ‘A’ and ‘B’ and the two illegal money service business operators as ‘A’ and ‘B’. He cited the investigation found that in 2017, X received over CA$5.4 million in cash from A and B, and provided over CA$6 million in cash, casino chips, and bank drafts to clients.
However, in his review, the Victoria criminal lawyer, commented that the police did not prove where the cash coming into the money service business was originating from. He added that the pieces of evidence together do not result in the inexorable conclusion that A or B got the cash supplied to X from drug trafficking. He also noted that CFSEU did not suggest it as a predicate offence.
Furthermore, he stated that if charges were pressed as a result of the investigation, the Crown would have an obligation to disclose to the defence all information in its possession of potential relevance to the defence. He said the extend to which the above-described information would meet that relevance threshold would likely be the subject of considerable dispute.
Overall, the investigation determined that the RCMP involved over 400 police resources connected to the file, which defined the synthesis, correlation and analysis of a voluminous amount of complex and technical evidence which was mostly in languages other than English. Lastly, Mr. Considine, encouraged legislative changes to money service businesses, as a precaution against making unregistered ones a predicate crime.
The matter of money laundering in B.C. casinos was also probed by Cullen Commission, which was headed by former B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen. Its final report was issued in June 2022, and it stated that billions of illicit assets that originated from organized crime and the drug trade have flown and impacted real estate, gaming, and luxury vehicle industries in the province.
However, in the report, the commission said the former Liberal government and the BCLC were aware of the suspicious cash but they did not demonstrate enough will to oppose it. Shortly after that whistleblowers from the case Fred Pinnock and Muriel LaBine shared their discontent. The two were far from happy with the results of the years-long investigation and its findings and recommendations to the province.
Source: Wood, Graeme “No charges approved in massive B.C. money laundering investigation” Vancouver is Awesome, March 1, 2023