Canadian Prime Minister (PM) Justin Trudeau wants to know how international criminal rings were able to use British Columbia (BC) casinos as their personal money laundering service, but he stopped short of declaring a full public inquiry into the scandal.
The PM was responding to a Global News report last week which indicated that as much as $2 billion in criminal money filtered through BC casinos, a much higher figure than initial estimates of $100m.
Sources from the report charged that there was “willful blindness” on the part of provincial regulators, who allegedly allowed bogus bank loans to flow through their own accounts.
“We have tasked the (Minister of Organized Crime) Bill Blair, to make sure that we are looking very carefully at the situation in BC in the casinos,” said Trudeau via Global News.
The PM ignored reporters questions about the potential need for a public inquiry, saying only that his government is working with the province to find out what happened.
Who Knew What?
A public inquiry may shed some light on the ongoing saga, but it would be long and costly. Still, there appears to be a strong thirst for answers from a an unhappy public.
A poll by the BC Government and Service Employees Union, one of the province’s biggest unions, showed that:
- 77% of BC residents want a pubic inquiry
- 84% referred to it as an important election issue
Were it a matter of mere incompetence on the part of public officials, perhaps the push for a public inquiry wouldn’t be so overwhelming.
However, there are some who believe that officials could have done something and instead simply chose not to.
“It is my belief and my knowledge that this was allowed to happen,” Joe Shalk, a former director of investigations for the BC Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch, told Global.
Developments in the casino scandal have been popping up at a torrid pace.
June, 2018: Peter German releases his “Dirty Money” report, shedding light on how criminal organizations from China, Mexico, and Columbia used BC casinos to clean at least $100m.
July, 2018: The province announces an investigation into how the dirty money may have affected the local housing bubble.
August, 2018: A new report surfaces showing that casino staff illegally shredded papers documenting large cash transactions.
October, 2018: The province hires “cash babysitters” to ensure staff are following regulations.
November, 2018: The criminal case collapses before going to trial.
January, 2019: Estimates on the amount of money laundered soar from $100m to $2B.