B.C. is investigating possible money laundering in Lower Mainland casinos. (Black Press files)

Money laundering in B.C. casinos was a ‘collective’ system failure: report

Illegal activity hurt Vancouver real estate, spurred on crime on region’s streets

A scathing independent report released Wednesday paints a “troubling picture” of governments that “turned a blind eye to money laundering” in B.C. casinos.

The 247-page report called ‘Dirty Money’ was written by former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German, who said that years of money laundering brought the gaming industry into disrepute.

Attorney General David Eby commissioned the report after laundering was brought to the forefront earlier this year when news reports uncovered large-scale criminal activity in the province’s casinos.

German said the problem came to an “apex” in 2015, when a Vancouver-area casino accepted $13.5 million in $20 bills over a one-month period.

“Nobody said no. Nobody said to not accept this money unless you know where it came from,” Eby said.

However, despite that and a 2011 report highlighting the issue, German said no action was taken.

“The failure to take action allowed money laundering to proliferate in B.C. casinos,” German said.

“Little was done to prosecute despite abundant evidence of a serious problem.”

German said that although it’s hard to get a grip on the sheer scale of the problem, well over $100 million is believed to have been laundered through B.C.’s casinos.

The former cop provided 48 recommendations in his report. Eby said that he’s already moved on implementing one-fifth of the recommendations, and is working on implementing 15 more.

German’s recommendations include bringing in a “specialized gaming police force,” bring in a new independent regulator and that casinos not accept cash unless they know where it came from.

In January, the province announced that all cash, bank drafts and certified cheque buy-ins worth $10,000 or more have to be accompanied by a receipt showing the financial institution, branch number and account number the money came from.

READ MORE: Cash rules tightened for B.C. casinos

READ MORE: B.C. casinos must declare cash deposits in new rules over money laundering

German pointed out that anyone, including casino operators, should know that anyone coming in with “$200,000 in $20 bills wrapped in elastic bands” was likely not up to any good.

“That is not how the bank issues stacks of cash,” he said.

German said that money laundering is not the “victimless crime” that past politicians believed it to be.

He pointed to money he said was parked in Vancouver real estate, as well as the gun- and drug-trafficking-related violence in Lower Mainland cities.

“Money laundering is the modern face of organized crime. It is the underbelly of the violence we see on our streets,” German said.

“We know that the same people who arrange for money to be laundered in casinos were buying real estate.

Eby pointed to opioid crisis, which claimed more than 1,400 lives last year, as a price B.C. has paid for allowing money laundering to continue.

But German said that although some organized crime has foreign root, much of it also begins domestically – and that B.C. residents are often the ones buying the illegal goods.

“Who is the drugs? It’s people in this province buying the drugs.”

German said that the attention placed on casinos in the past few years has seen organized crime shift away from casinos.

“What we don’t know is where it went. What vehicle is currently being used to launder drug cash in Metro Vancouver?” German said.

He asked the province to call on Ottawa to update legislation to track commodities like luxury cars and boats, which can also be used to launder money.

The Attorney General placed the blame for lack of enforcement at the feet of the former BC Liberal government.

“It’s not like people weren’t aware, it’s not like people weren’t notified,” he said.

“In my opinion, responsibility lies with government and that government has been removed.”

The BC Liberals did not immediately return a request for comment.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Police watchdog investigating after pedestrian struck and killed in Surrey

IIO investigating after male killed in crash shortly after being released from police custody

Surrey Mounties say 40 intoxicated teens found on ‘party bus’ in Newton

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Strawberry Hill

PHOTOS: Players putt their way to Las Vegas at Surrey MSOP tournament

Two-day regional qualifier held at Eaglequest Coyote Creek

PHOTOS: $12,000 raised at 2019 North Delta Terry Fox Run

Nearly 300 runners and walkers took part in the annual event at Sungod Recreation Centre

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Vancouver police could be using drones to fight crime by end of year

The police department has already purchased three drones, as well as three others for training

Grand opening of Molson Coors Fraser Valley Brewery at Chilliwack cause for celebration

Ribbon-cutting with dignitaries, Molson brass and family marked the official grand opening

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Powder the muskets, zombies are coming!

Fort Langley National Historic Site offers up A Survivalist’s Guide to a Zombie Apocalypse, Sept. 28

Most Read