In last week’s inquiry of the Cullen Commission investigation into money laundering on B.C. casino’s territory, several senior executives of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation gave their testimonies. The inquiry is underway and, following the Crown corporation’s deliberate or non-deliberate inaction on the matter, the commission is drilling down to find out such further details as possible.
Counsel Alisson Latimer and Patrick McGowan questioned both former and now-employed Crown Corporation operatives at the public hearing to determine what caused the company to stall in the fight against criminal activity in the province.
Evidence of duffel bags of cash being accepted by casino personnel after testimonies and videos.
As we discovered from last week’s testimony of BCLC’s current CEO, Jim Lightbody, who testified even after being on medical leave, the corporation did not want to enforce the proposed Source of Income directive because some customers wanted to keep their identity a secret and the other rationale behind it was high-profile rollers ‘cultural concerns.
The investigation pointed out that B.C. even though they came in duffel bags consisting of 20-dollar bills, casinos had no problem accepting huge cash amount transactions. It was rumored that the suspicious cash came from the deadly drug trade in Vancouver or from organized Chinese crime groups. Then there is the inability or misunderstanding of all parties involved to resolve the issue, with many executives from the BCLC and Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch unable to find a common ground due to alleged miscommunications.
When the person was popular and wealthy, the BCLC also considered a valid reason for accepting a large amount of cash. For instance, Mike Hiller, the investigator of the crown corporation, told him at the inquiry about a CA$460,000 commission in 20-dollar bills at River Rock Casino and Resort, but the surveillance manager told him it was a daily wealthy client.
The casino could not prove, according to Mr. Lightbody’s statement, that the source of cash originated from illegal activity and that is why the transaction could not be refused.
The inquiry also asked Terry Towns, who was head of compliance and security until 2012. According to his claims, the source of money could be explained by several businesses and it was not up to the casino officials to determine their gamblers.
Mr. Towns have also gone on a great length to refuse cash laundering schemes if the gamblers were losing. Mr. Town was replaced by Brad Desmarais in 2013.
Another piece of information that came to the public thanks to the Cullen Commission inquiry is that BCLC’s senior operatives were worried about the image of the industry back in September 2015. Rod Baker and Michael Graydon of Vancouver Edgewater Casinos, former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, were one of the first to raise the issue of the industry being harmed by reports of investigating money laundering activities.
Last week’s Cullen Commission investigation episode heard about how BCLC workers did not warn the provincial gaming minister at the time that the corporation was aware of the undergoing problem of washing money on the premises of the casino. Bud Smith, former chairman of the board, was accused of not informing Gaming Minister Mike de Jong of the problem, but Mr. Smith denied such allegations and claimed that they both had med in public to discuss the directions for anti-money laundering. Unfortunately, no evidence of such a meeting was presented by the former board chair.