“I received a series of briefings that caused me to believe that our province could do more to combat money laundering at B. casinos,” said Eby, who will now hire an independent review of anti-money laundering practices after MNP cited concerns as to how B. “River Rock staff [members] have fostered a culture accepting of large bulk cash transactions.
In one month (July 2015), the casino accepted $13.5 million in $20 bills alone.
“The issue of casinos, [River Rock] in particular, accepting large volumes of cash has now been a growing issue in the province for a number of years,” noted the report.
Pertaining to the irregular cash transactions, BCLC said it will await instruction from Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch (GPEB), the provincial regulator, and the Ministry of Finance as to how it may reform in the wake of such revelations.
Richmond North Centre MLA Teresa Wat, whose riding includes the casino, did not respond to Richmond News inquiries but former BC Liberal Finance Minister Mike de Jong, told the Sun the July 2016 report was kept confidential for investigative purposes.
Meanwhile, casino operator Great Canadian Gaming Corporation said in a statement it complies with present regulations set forth by the GPEB and FINTRAC (Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada) and welcomes new regulations.
Nevertheless, MNP — which notes it’s difficult for casinos to source cash from Chinese nationals — describes holes in the system.
MNP Interviews with casino and BCLC staff members confirmed there are “reasonable grounds to suspect money laundering” via unsourced funds, which are largely coming from wealthy non-residents and local business persons with interests in Vancouver and China.
“While the patron may be bona fide, the unsourced cash being accepted by the casino may be associated with criminal activity and poses significant regulatory, business and reputational risk,” noted MNP.
And the casino itself was found by MNP, during a two-year review period (2013-2015), to have filed relatively few suspicious transactions (1,194) compared to the number of large cash transaction records (41,187).
Casino workers may be “desensitized” to the anti-money laundering regime and communication between managers and VIP hosts, who handle the large cash transactions, was found to be problematic.
MNP found 36 “high risk” players identified by law enforcement as also being on the Top 100 list of players by cash volume.