Sunday, May 25, 2008

Casino Money Laundering Rampant in Canadian Casinos!

According to the Peace Arch News, criminals and cheats are using Canada´s casinos to wash their ill-gotten gains. Money laundering is nothing new to casinos, especially in Las Vegas and Macau, but this is the first time I´m hearing of major money-laundering operations going on in Canada.

VICTORIA – The provincial and federal governments are checking into reports that B.C. casinos are being used to launder large amounts of money by people posing as high-rolling gamblers.

CBC News reported last week that its reporters were able to go into casinos, feed thousands of dollars in cash into slot machines, then exchange the credits for a casino cheque after little or no actual gambling.

Provincial and federal laws require that suspicious transactions be reported to provincial gaming enforcement officials and the federal agency responsible for policing financial transactions. Documents released under freedom of information legislation showed that suspicious incidents were reported by casino staff, but many of those did not end up being reported to Ottawa as the law requires.

In question period at the B.C. legislature Thursday, NDP critics grilled Public Safety Minister John van Dongen on the issue. Delta North MLA Guy Gentner asked why Ontario casinos reported suspicious transactions totalling more than $15 million in 2006, while B.C. reports the same year totalled only $60,000.

In the legislature and speaking to reporters outside, van Dongen would only say he has asked for a meeting with the B.C. Lottery Corp. board, and spoken to federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day about verifying the lottery corporation’s responsibilities under federal law.

He promised to take appropriate action and report to the legislature on his findings.

“The fact of the matter is there are very extensive reporting requirements on casino facilities,” van Dongen said.

“These reports go to the (B.C.) Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch, they review the reports, they work with enforcement agencies.”

Branch records show that in B.C. there were 48 money laundering investigations in 2004-05, 43 in 2005-06 and 51 in 2006-07. Only one case led to a criminal charge during that time.

The Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch deals with many more reports of crime related to casinos, including more than 1,000 cases a year of suspected counterfeit.

In 2006-07 the branch dealt with 570 complaints of theft, 193 of fraud, 118 of loan sharking, 344 of assault or threats and 43 complaints of cheating at gambling games.

NDP attorney-general critic Leonard Krog said the money laundering problem is similar to last year’s report by B.C. Ombudsman Kim Carter about inadequate controls on potential lottery ticket fraud by retailers.