A new report released Wednesday reveals details regarding a massive money-laundering scheme for billions of dollars in British Columbia (BC).
White Paper Flags BC Casinos Laundered Billions
The report was released by Former BC Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen and comes after testimony from nearly 200 witnesses and more than 130 days of hearings. The white paper probed into money laundering through British Columbia casinos for the period between 2008 and 2018. As a result, the 1,800-page white paper uncovered that billions of dollars were laundered through casinos.
“For too long money laundering has been kept on the sidelines. Too often it has been largely ignored. It’s time for that to change,”Austin Cullen, former BC Supreme Court Justice
Although the report did not confirm what was the exact amount of illicit funds that were laundered, it estimated to be in billions annually. Commenting on the topic, during a press conference, Cullen revealed that money laundering has been ignored for years, but the time for a change has come.
“This inquiry explored the myriad ways in which the greedy and the devious seek to make their crime-stained money appear legitimate,”reads the recent report
Besides details, regarding the massive money-laundering scheme, the report included a list of recommendations. To fight against the use of illicit funds, 101 recommendations were included in the report. Such recommendations included stricter rules for money laundering, as well as training of law enforcement. Forfeiture, as well as rules for proof of funds for significant casino transactions, was also listed as a part of the recommendations.
Local Authorities, Politicians Should Have Done More to Prevent Money Laundering
According to Cullen, money laundering was the result of insufficient efforts to prevent the activity. He criticized the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as well as former ministers. One of the politicians that were criticized by Cullen was former Canadian premier Christy Clark.
“There was no sustained effort to investigate money laundering activity in British Columbia,”explained Cullen
In the report, Cullen pointed out that, while Clark was premier, she was aware that there are suspicious transactions related to huge amounts of cash for casinos. However, according to Cullen, Clark didn’t determine the source of the funds which the casinos received and failed to ensure illicit funds were accepted by those venues. With that in mind, the report outlines that there’s no evidence that any of the agencies or politicians “knowingly encouraged, facilitated, or permitted money laundering.”
Illicit Funds Were Deposited in Bulk
Going into more detail, the report revealed that approximately CA$1.2 billion ($0.9 billion) was accepted by casinos in British Columbia in the form of transactions of CA$10,000 ($7,730) or more. He pointed out that this included 1,881 individual buy-ins of CA$100,000 ($77,280) or more. In other words, more than five such transactions were completed each day in 2014.
The recent white paper points out that the suspicious deposits consisted of CA$20 bills, which were stacked into bricks via rubber bands. Oftentimes, the people that completed the deposits carried the money in gym bags, cardboard boxes and shopping bags. Those deposits were usually completed early in the morning or late at night, the report unveils.