British Columbia to review alleged money laundering at casinos

British Columbia to review alleged money laundering at casinos
British Columbia to review alleged money laundering at casinos

The government of British Columbia is to review of allegations of suspected money laundering at the province’s casinos after a report by the British Columbia Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (BGPEB) identified that large volumes of unsourced cash were being accepted in casinos.

The 400-page report, which was completed in 2016 but only released on Friday alleges that cash buy-ins of more than $500,000 had been accepted at the River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond. The report stated that “law enforcement intelligence has indicated that this currency may be the direct proceeds of crime. The majority of this cash is being presented by persons commonly referred to as high roller Asian VIP clients.”

In July 2015, officials from the gaming policy and enforcement branch identified almost $13.5m in $20 bills which was accepted by the River Rock casino. Information provided to the authorities indicated that this was “unsourced cash from unknown persons or persons believed to be connected to or participating in illicit activity, was dropped off at the casino or ‘just-off’ casino property for patrons at unusual times, generally late at night.”

In a statement reported by the Globe and Mail newspaper, British Columbia Attorney General David Eby said: “We are serious about doing everything we can to identify money-laundering activities, and ensure policies are in place to prevent it from occurring in B.C. casinos.”

Eby also alleges that the previous government of British Columbia received the report from auditors MNP in July 2016 but chose to not make the report’s contents public. The report makes a series of serious recommendations for reform when it comes to practices and regulatory regimes at local gaming facilities, including limits on the amount of unsourced cash deposits which can be accepted by casinos in the province.

Jim Lightbody, president of the BC Lottery Corporation, the body responsible for British Columbia’s casino operations said in a statement that it has a “”zero tolerance for criminals who may attempt to target our business.”

Lightbody confirmed that the Lottery Corporation had been fully compliant with information requirements for high risk patrons, also stating that it had improved its anti-money laundering training programme earlier this year.

He added: “If there is something more we can do to improve the anti-money-laundering efforts in B.C., we’ll do it.”

An independent expert is expected to be appointed to chair the review over the next few weeks.

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