The B.C. government is appointing an independent expert to conduct a review of the province’s anti-money laundering policies and practices in the gambling industry.
In a release to media on Sept. 28, Attorney General David Eby announced that lawyer Peter German, a former deputy commissioner of both the RCMP and Correctional Service Canada, will conduct an independent review, with a specific focus on the Lower Mainland, and if necessary make recommendations for reform.
“We’re going to make sure the gaming policies and procedures that protect the interests of British Columbians are in place and are being followed,” Eby said in the release. “There are concerns about money laundering that have been growing for years — our government is taking action to deal with them quickly and thoroughly.”
Eby’s announcement comes less than a month after the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) announced its preliminary approval of the Delta Town & Country Inn as the site of a new gaming facility in Delta.
The facility would be relocation and expansion of Surrey’s Newton Community Gaming Centre and, according to a BCLC background document, is expected to generate between $25 million and $50 million in revenue, Delta, as host local government, would receive 10 per cent of the net gaming income, estimated to be between $1.5 million and $3 million.
The City of Richmond has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the proposed Delta casino, with Mayor Malcolm Brodie saying the Delta Town & Country Inn “is just up the highway from the River Rock [Casino and Resort] and could form some unwanted encroachment.”
Eby’s appointment of German is in response to a 2016 report, commissioned by the previous BC Liberal government and recently released by the current NDP government, that looked at practices related to suspicious cash transactions at the River Rock. Approximately $13.5 million in $20 bills was accepted by the casino in July 2015, including “single buy-ins in excess of $500,000 with no known source of funds,” generally late at night.
The report states that law enforcement intelligence indicted that the money may be the direct proceeds of crime, and that “the majority of this cash is being presented by persons commonly referred to as high roller Asian VIP clients.”
That report, which was never publicly released, made a series of recommendations to reform provincial policies and practices.
“I believe that if we have the right policies and procedures in place, we can address any concerns the public may have about gambling in B.C.,” Eby said in the release. “We have the full support of operators in the sector, as well as BCLC and the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch for this review.”
According to the release, Eby has asked German to determine whether there is an unaddressed, or inadequately addressed, issue of money laundering in Lower Mainland casinos, and the history, nature and extent of any issues he identifies.
As part of the review, German will meet with the government’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, the BC Lottery Corporation, the Joint Illegal Gaming Investigation Team within British Columbia’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, casino service providers, and employee organizations at any identified facilities, as well as with any other parties who may assist.
German has also been asked provide advice to Eby about connections between any identified issues and other areas of the economy, or provincial laws or policies that may require attention as a result of information he gathers.
The review will be complete by the end of March 2018, but German has been asked to make recommendations to government as they are identified, rather than waiting for a final report, so that any necessary changes may be implemented in a timely way.
According a B.C. government fact sheet, German, in his time with the RCMP, spearheaded the creation of market enforcement and international anti-corruption teams. He is the author of Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering, a textbook on anti-money-laundering law, and has a doctorate in law from the University of London focused on international asset recovery.
He is a member of both the Ontario and B.C. bars and is currently president of the International Centre for Criminal Justice Reform at the University of British Columbia.
– with files from Grace Kennedy