B.C. is investigating possible money laundering in Lower Mainland casinos. (Black Press files)

B.C. criminal casino cash-outs fail to turn up in independent audit

Cheques show ‘no systemic pattern’ of money laundering at River Rock Casino

An audit of high-rolling gambler payouts at B.C.’s largest casino has found errors in payouts, but not the “wild west” of money laundering that has been a popular narrative with B.C. Attorney General David Eby and some Vancouver media.

The B.C. Lottery Corp. hired Ernst & Young Canada to audit three years of transactions at the River Rock Casino, for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

“BCLC commissioned the independent analysis following allegations in the media that patrons were coming into the River Rock Casino with ‘dirty money,’ buying casino chips, playing notionally, then cashing the chips in and receiving a cheque in return,” the provincially owned corporation said in a statement with the audit release.

“Based on EY’s analysis, BCLC is satisfied that there was no systemic pattern of money laundering activity related to cheques being issued by River Rock Casino during the three-year period of 2014 to 2016.”

READ MORE: RCMP says it is stretched thin on B.C. money laundering

READ MORE: BCGEU joins call for inquiry into B.C. money laundering

The audit reviewed more than 2,000 cheques issued for amounts of $10,000 or more. They found one where a River Rock employee issued a cheque marked “return of gaming funds” where no game play had been recorded.

A total of 49 were found not to follow BCLC’s anti-money laundering rules, mostly errors where cheques were marked “verified win” when the amount included part of the player’s original buy-in. The rules are tied in with strict reporting laws with the federal Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).

Frequently citing media reports, Eby has suggested FINTRAC is collecting reports of suspicious transactions but not acting on them. He hired former RCMP investigator Peter German to investigate, and has begun doling out his findings in stages, accusing the B.C. Liberals of allowing money laundering to proliferate and even assisting it by increasing betting limits.

This week’s highlight was a report that most of RCMP’s dedicated money laundering investigation positions are vacant. The RCMP responded that it has many competing priorities, including terrorism, missing and murdered women and an epidemic of overdose deaths from smuggled opioids, with forensic accountants and other financial specialists in great demand around the world.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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