BC Casino Money Laundering Estimates Soar, Criminals Used Government Accounts to Clean Their Cash

Posted on: February 1, 2019, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: January 31, 2019, 10:22h.

Estimates surrounding the amount of criminal money laundered through British Columbia’s (BC) casinos have shot up exponentially, with a new report putting the figure at nearly $2 billion.

bc casino
BC’s River Rock Casino was a prime location for laundering hundreds of millions (Image: Cvent)

That’s a far cry from the original $100 million appraisal made by former RCMP executive Peter German when he released his “Dirty Money” report last summer.

The figure has grown since then, with some saying that $200 million had been illegally laundered, while others pegged it at closer to $1 billion.

But according to a new report by Global News, regulators now believe that as much as $1.7 billion, maybe more, filtered through BC’s casinos via corporate high roller accounts, apparently bankrolled by “loan sharks and criminal bank drafts.”

The investigation originally zeroed in on individuals who were laundering their criminal proceeds via bags of cash at casino cages.

But information obtained by Global reveals that high rollers, mostly form China, have been taking advantage of Canadian banks as well as the provincial regulator itself, brazenly using the BC Lottery Corporation’s (BCLC) “patron gaming fund” to launder money as well.

Investigators now say that about $1.7B in “suspected dirty money” flowed through the government’s own accounts between 2010 and 2018, a total expected to rise to $2B by the time it’s all said and done.

Bogus Bank Drafts

The revelations put the provincial government in a tough spot. Not only do its original estimates of $100M appear way off, but the fact that criminals were using government accounts is a bad look.

“Only funds sourced to a recognized financial institution may be placed in a patron gaming fund (PGF) account at account opening,” the BCLC said in a statement. “BCLC monitors play activity and PGF account activity and investigates unusual activity — including by requesting proof of source of wealth.”

However, documents acquired by Global reveal that those accounts were financed via “suspicious” bank drafts. Further, they were quickly emptied before much of the money was used for gambling. That’s a clear warning sign of money laundering, as is the fact that almost half of the $1.7B came from just 10 Chinese gamblers — VIPs with alleged ties to the Chinese Triad criminal organization. 

Collapsing Investigation

It’s the latest black eye in the ongoing BC casino saga. Despite the shocking new developments, the entire investigation is now very much in doubt.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the criminal case had collapsed after prosecutors accidentally leaked information on a key witness to the defense. 

BC Attorney General David Eby acknowledged that something “obviously went terribly wrong,” adding that it was a “disturbing signal” that such a massive case had collapsed.

The future of the criminal investigation into BC’s dirty money scandal is now unclear.