The investigation by the Cullen Commission on money laundering activities at British Columbia casinos is coming to an end. After six weeks of hearings and testimony, the jury is still out if organized crime groups were subject to money laundering of the enormous cash amounts used in casinos. The investigation failed to provide any solid proof of the alleged crimes or any facts.
With no clear admission or evidence of corruption, the investigation heard the testimony of the failure of authorities and unsuccessful policy and law enforcement. Massive miscommunication, bureaucracy, and even deliberate ignorance resulted in this.
Commissioner Austin Cullen is now burdened with the uneasy task of coming up with a verdict on the extent, growth, evolution, and methods of money laundering in six sectors of the economy, including gambling.
The Commission is, however, still waiting to hear more detail on the matter from gambling politicians and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. However, it remains to be seen if this will happen any time soon because the police department is a federal entity and the undertakings of the government are not subject to the mandate of the provincial inquiry.
Commissioner Cullen warned the public back in July 2019 that the alleged money washing activities are typically not accompanied by any solid proof of its occurrence or witnesses who are willing to testify publicly.
The investigation includes six parties: the government, the police department, the Gaming Policy regulator, and the Enforcement Branch, the BCLC, which oversees the casino properties, the casinos themselves, and, of course, the gamblers.
More common suspicions of illegal money laundering activities were raised in 2008, according to the hearings. Testimonies, however, revealed that after investigating an international crime network, the police authorities joined the investigative way in 2015.
The Commission is still waiting for the RCMP about its 2015 E-Pirate operation about alleged money laundering activities in Richmond.
The GPEB report indicates that nearly CA$40,000,000 in suspicious cash transactions were recorded in 2011, CA$85,000,000 in 2012, and CA$$174 million in 2014, most of which came in $20 bills. In addition, River Rock Casino and Resort staff overlooked and failed to record huge cash transactions in February 2016, according to a BCLC study. With testimonies of staff seeing duffel bags of cash in the casino. Upon awaiting more testimonies, the Commission will not turn to potential money washing in the real estate industry.
On February 11, 2021, hearings on the case suggested that former Crown Corporation President Michael Graydon failed to comply with the anti-money laundering protocols.
According to statements during his term, Mr. Graydon asked casino managers to meet the budget requirements that disregard the concerns of money laundering. He even encouraged them by promising generous bonus incentives if the budget was met.
Further testimony came on February 15, 2021, with the former B.C. Len Meilleur, director of the Gaming Enforcement Branch, reports that many of the high-rolling players in the casinos were among the top 100 suspects of corruption in 2015.
Email correspondence between Calvin Christie, the former branch director and RCMP officer, where the two discussed the inactivity of the Crown agency in suspicious cash transactions.