Key casino whistleblower had “breakdown,” B.C. money laundering commission told
13 Nov 2020

Daryl Tottenham, the man with oversight of anti-money-laundering programs in B.C. casinos, still can’t fathom why his predecessor went to the media.

Tottenham told the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C. this week that his former supervisor Ross Alderson was suffering a mental breakdown and the whistleblower’s allegations didn’t reflect the current reality.

“To take himself out of that position and declare himself to be a martyr as he did and say, ‘I’m going to save the gaming industry by being a martyr and expose it.’ It made absolutely no sense to me. The effectiveness of what he was doing was clearly as a result of his position in (the B.C. Lottery Corp.) and his ability to direct the entire (Anti-Money-Laundering) program in B.C.”

After years of work, Tottenham said BCLC was finally staunching the massive flow of suspicious currency into provincial casinos, problematic players were being sanctioned and police had begun a major investigation (E-Pirate) of the top alleged cash facilitator — Paul Jin, who had been banned since 2012 and had alleged links to suspected high-level criminals and terrorist financing.

An underground bank in Richmond, believed to be funded in part by criminal proceeds, and providing money to some River Rock gamblers, was also under surveillance.

Ten players who had received cash from Jin were placed on conditions that included prohibitions on buying in with unsourced cash or chips.

Money-laundering in casinos had become a major fear a decade ago but suppressing it turned out to be complicated — the “suspects” lost most of their money, and that certainly wasn’t how to clean cash.

Instead, the theory developed into the belief these legitimate patrons were borrowing money from criminals and paying them back in China through underground banking or a hawala system that may or may not be illegal.

The casinos, which only accepted cash at the time, were feared to be exacerbating this activity by accepting possibly dirty money.

But money-laundering and proceeds-of-crime investigations must be based on a specific underlying crime and without a so-called “predicate offence,” the RCMP balked at committing the extensive resources needed for such complicated projects.

In 2012, however, BCLC started to introduce measures to stem the flow of cash. In 2013, it established an anti-money-laundering unit and, by mid-2015, the Crown corporation was demanding players use casino accounts funded by bank drafts and submit to interviews about the source of their money or be banned when suspicions arose.

Alderson, who fought passionately for such measures as a BCLC investigator, became the manager of anti-money-laundering in April 2015 but was gone scarcely 18-months later.

“We were very close in a work relationship (for six years),” said Tottenham, now the manager of anti-money-laundering programs.

“We talked often, I mean, multiple times a day often. And he provided me information of what was happening in his home front, health-wise and work life that to me indicated that he was overburdened. He had overburdened himself, he was taking too much on.”

Alderson resigned in December of 2017.

By Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun, 11 November 2020

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