River Rock Casino Managers Fought Investigators Over VIPs, BC Commission Hears
Posted on: January 26, 2021, 06:06h.
Last updated on: January 26, 2021, 10:19h.
VIP managers at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, British Columbia would clash with gaming regulators who tried to question their high rollers about the source of their funds, the Cullen Commission heard Monday.
The commission is charged with investigating whether individuals within the provincial government conspired with casino operators and the BC Lottery Corp (BCLC) to willfully ignore money laundering in the pursuit of VIP profits.
Previously, the commission heard from former BCLC investigator Steven Beeksma, who testified he had been told to “cut that sh*t out” by his superiors after questioning River Rock customers.
Money Laundering Hub
It has been established there was an inadequacy of oversight at British Columbia casinos between 2010 and 2015. That allowed criminal gangs with links to the drug trade to launder hundreds of millions through the VIP casino segment.
Chinese high rollers would be lent money to gamble by underground banks to help them circumvent caps on moving money out of China. These funds, which were mingled with drug money, would then be converted into casino chips and washed.
The River Rock has been singled out as the epicenter of money laundering in BC. Bags filled with $20 bills were regularly changed into chips.
Testifying Monday, former River Rock general manager Rick Duff admitted that, at the time, casino management did not want investigators sticking their noses into their VIPs’ business. It was Duff’s and his colleagues’ job to keep them happy and gambling, showering them with gifts and concert tickets and taking them out to dinner.
Jin’s Cash Drop-Offs
Former River Rock Casino compliance manager Robert Kroeker testified he was aware of the activities of a notorious loan shark named Paul King Jin. He had been banned from the River Rock in 2012 and was dropping off large amounts of cash for gamblers in the casino parking lot.
Kroeker admitted that he did not instruct employees to turn away VIPs who had been funded by Jin’s nocturnal cash deliveries.
Jin was later linked to Silver International, an underground bank alleged to have laundered hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money through casinos. Last year, Jin narrowly survived an assassination attempt, His associate, Silver International boss Jian Jun Zhu, was not so lucky.
On Monday, Great Canadian Gaming CEO Rod Baker resigned after he and his wife, Ekaterina Baker, were found to have broken social distancing protocols by traveling to Yukon. There, they posed as local hotel workers in order to get shots of the coronavirus vaccine. They have both been charged under Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act.
According to Canada’s Global News, earlier in the hearings, Baker was singled out as one who allegedly had complained about investigators questioning VIPs at River Rock.