BC casinos still being targeted by money launderers
According to a report by British Columbia’s attorney general (AG), money laundering is still a strong industry at area casinos. AG David Eby released a report this week written by Peter German, called "Dirty Money," in which he details how criminal organizations from around the globe are targeting Vancouver-area casinos to launder proceeds from illicit activity. The groups are able to exploit government agencies, who aren’t working in tandem to control the flow of ill-gotten funds.
Eby has accused the sitting Liberal government of looking the other way and ignoring the activity that he says has been identified since 2011. In an interview with the media outlet The Globe and Mail, he said, “Nobody said ‘no’ to taking this money, and that is inexcusable. It was so strange that it took so long to take action.”
The report explained how the criminals were able to bring bundles of $20 bills in plastic bags into the casinos to exchange for chips. One video used to support his findings showed an individual spending 13 minutes to count the cash he brought in.
The money is said to come from the illicit drug trade, in particular the sale of opioids. Opioid use has been on the rise and has been ruled the cause of death of thousands of residents in the province, and tens of thousands more around the world.
‘Dirty Money’ also showed that the activity has had an impact on the housing market, as well. The laundered money is subsequently used to purchase real estate in the area, which has resulted in an increase in prices out of reach of the locals.
Eby hopes to turn the tables on the money launderers. He is looking to introduce a number of measures to provide additional oversight of the casino industry. One regulation requires anyone depositing over CAD$10,000 to prove that the money comes from legitimate sources. Another would see the creation of a new government agency that would control the casinos and would also include its own police force and prosecutors.
German points out that it’s all or nothing. “In my opinion, partial implementation of the recommendations would be a mistake,” he told The Globe and Mail.