B.C. disbanded RCMP unit after report warned possible crime figure bought stake in casino
16 Jan 2020

A businessman “connected to Asian organized crime” was allowed by a British Columbia government employee to buy part of a B.C. Lottery Corp. casino, according to a confidential RCMP report obtained by Global News.

And the government employee was later hired in a B.C. casino.

The explosive accusation is just one example of organized crime’s alleged infiltration and corruption of B.C. government casinos, according to a January 2009 RCMP anti-illegal gaming unit report.

The report also contained jarring allegations of victimization, including that women with gambling debts in Asia were being trafficked to B.C. and forced into sex work, and that children in B.C. had been thrown in the trunk of a car and warned at gun-point that their father owed $300,000.

The report argued the RCMP anti-illegal gaming unit (IIGET) should target the drug cartels using B.C. Lottery Corp. casinos in combination with illegal casinos, to launder money.

At the time the IIGET was funded by B.C. Lottery Corp., and was only permitted to target illegal casinos.

But three months later, instead of following the report’s recommendations, B.C.’s government defunded and disbanded the illegal gaming unit.

Critics of B.C.’s casino industry have long questioned the decision to kill the RCMP unit.

In an interview, former Crown prosecutor Sandy Garossino said the confidential RCMP report — obtained through extensive freedom of information requests by Global News — “is shocking to the conscience” and points to “the appearance of corruption in the regulatory system.”

“I always believed in this report we would finally find this kind of detail, and it is so important it is finally coming to light,” Garossino said.

B.C. government documents claim the decision was based on funding pressures in the B.C. Lottery Corp. and that IIGET was ineffective.

“Illegal and legal gaming have been interlinked”

The January 2009 RCMP report stressed that money laundering between legal and illegal casinos was an integrity concern for B.C.’s government.

It said that organized crime could make big money in underground casinos, and “through the infiltration of legitimate gaming venues” easily launder and transfer the criminal proceeds.

And B.C. government and criminal casinos had become intertwined in a dirty economic loop, the report said, even sometimes sharing the same card dealers and loan-shark networks.

“Illegal and legal gaming share the same issues, such as loan-sharking, extortions, assaults, kidnappings and murders,” the report says. “And illegal and legal gaming have been interlinked when, in some cases, casino staff have directed patrons to loan sharks or to common gaming houses.”

These links between government facilities and underground casinos suggested that “corruption undermines the integrity of gaming in British Columbia,” the report said.

But in the case of one B.C. casino that is not identified in the report obtained by Global News, the organized crime connection was more fundamental and damaging to the integrity of gaming.

“More specific connections to Asian Organized Crime is/was through a subject, connected to Asian organized crime, who was allowed to buy into a casino,” the report said, pointing to an unidentified investor whose “casino business associates also have Asian Organized Crime connections.”

“The regulatory investigator, involved in the share transfer process, is alleged to have known about these connections when this subject originally bought into a casino,” the report said. “The regulatory investigator is now retired from the provincial government. However, he still appears to be involved in the legitimate gaming industry.”

In an interview, Denis Meunier, former deputy director of Canada’s anti-money laundering watchdog Fintrac, said the allegations of criminal connections and ownership in B.C. Lottery casinos are “explosive.”

“For licensing, casinos are expected to conduct due diligence on the owners, the employees and any associates, to ensure criminals and their associates are nowhere near casino ownership or operations,” Meunier said. “In my view, if (the criminal casino ownership allegations) were reported to anyone (in B.C. government and RCMP) and they were not further investigated, there is a breach. Because there is a fiduciary or legal responsibility to the public. This is shocking.”

By Sam Cooper, Global News, 15 January 2020

Read more at Global News

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