The official inquiry looking into instances of money laundering at casinos in the western Canadian province of British Columbia has reportedly criticized the government for not doing enough to help stop the illicit activity.
According to a Wednesday report from the CTV Television Network, the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia heard testimony from 199 witnesses over 133 days and has now produced an 1,800-page document laying out its findings. This body was purportedly charged with looking into suspected instances of money laundering at casinos in the province during the decade to 2018 and detailed that several local ministers had not done enough to stop this illegal activity even though it was often happening in plain sight.
Former British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen (pictured) led the official probe and reportedly determined that billions of dollars in cash had been laundered through British Columbia casinos during the decade examined. The official also purportedly noted that the pervasive nature of this issue had not been helped by the seemingly apathetic approach of those in leadership roles.
Reportedly read a statement from Cullen…
“This inquiry explored the myriad ways in which the greedy and the devious sought to make their crime-stained money appear legitimate. In the year 2014 alone, casinos in British Columbia accepted nearly $930 million in cash transactions of $7,749 or more including 1,881 individual cash buy-ins of $77,490 or more, which works out to an average of more than five per day.”
Cullen reportedly declared that ‘staggering amounts’ of cash had been laundered through casinos in British Columbia with bills used in transactions often exhibiting the well-known characteristics of being derived from crime. He purportedly stated that these included being ‘predominantly of $20 bills oriented in a non-uniform fashion’ and delivered to venues early in the morning or late at night ‘in shopping bags, knapsacks, suitcases, gym bags and cardboard boxes’ by individuals driving unmarked luxury vehicles.
The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia moreover proclaimed that no-one had questioned the legitimacy of these bills despite a former senior provincial gambling investigator asserting that such cash ‘smells like drug money’. Cullen purportedly went on to heap derision by asserting that officials had taken no action to address such issues until 2015 despite repeated warnings from various levels of law enforcement.
Cullen’s statement reportedly read…
“It should have been apparent to anyone with an awareness of the size and character of these transactions that lower mainland casinos were accepting vast quantities of proceeds of crime during this time period. The British Columbia Lottery Corporation resisted these calls for action and continued to allow these transactions, almost without exception.”
Cullen reportedly went on to single out the provincial minister who was previously responsible for gaming policy, Rich Coleman. The official purportedly asserted that the former police officer ‘was aware of the concerns’ but had additionally received information from the British Columbia Lottery Corporation regulator that the local gaming industry ‘had a strong and effective anti-money laundering regime’.
The statement from Cullen reportedly read…
“Mr Coleman responded to these mixed messages by arranging for an independent review of anti-money laundering measures in the gaming industry but he did not take action to stem the flow of the suspicious cash transactions that he had been warned about.”
The report also purportedly contained a harsh view of past premier Christy Clark for delegating oversight of the province’s casino sector ‘to a succession of experienced ministers.’ Nevertheless, the leader was reportedly adjudged to have dawdled after being told in 2015 that venues being run by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation ‘were reporting transactions involving enormous quantities of cash as suspicious.’
Cullen’s statement reportedly read…
“Despite receiving this information, Ms. Clark failed to determine whether these funds were being accepted by the casinos and in turn contributing to the revenues of the province and failed to ensure such funds were not accepted.”
The report from the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia moreover purportedly criticized former gaming ministers Shirley Bond and Mike De Jong despite determining that there had been no evidence the pair had ‘knowingly encouraged, facilitated or permitted money laundering to occur in order to obtain personal benefit or advantage, be it financial, political or otherwise.’
Finally, the examination by the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia reportedly highlighted its belief that criminals had additionally laundered money through the province’s luxury goods market. The body purportedly described such products, which included real estate, as ‘inherently vulnerable’ to such illicit activities because they are able to ‘be moved more easily and less suspiciously than bulk cash.’
Reportedly read the statement from Cullen…
“Many of the goods targeted by criminals retain or increase in value over time and they can ultimately be sold. There are strong reasons to think that fundamental factors such as supply and demand, population increase and interest rates are far more important drivers of price but money laundering should be addressed.”