The Delta Town & Country Inn recently got preliminary approval to be the site of a new casino, and Parq Vancouver recently opened with great success; however, some of British Columbia’s casinos are in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
One of the most contentious issues that has recently surfaced in BC’s casino industry is money laundering.
The NDP government has recently appointed Peter Germain to investigate the scam, but the initial investigation commenced over two years ago.
Starting in July of 2015, The Vancouver Sun reports that a confidential report entitled “Section 86,” was filed by the BC Lottery Corp. to BC’s Gaming Enforcement Branch. The report stated that the casinos were suspected of “terrorist financing.”
Within this report, The Breaker reports that a total of, “$13.5 million in $20 bills were accepted at River Rock in July 2015. That is 675,000 $20 bills. Stacked end-to-end, that would be 102.87 kilometres, the “as the crow flies” distance between River Rock and Whistler, the ski resort town that inspired River Rock’s design.”
Paul King Jin, a 50-year-old spa owner who resides in Richmond, is at the heart of the controversy. Postmedia News alleges that his associates, “used an illegal money transfer business in Richmond to lend suspected drug-dealer cash to high-roller Chinese gamblers recruited from Macau who, with troubling ease, used massive wads of small bills to buy chips at River Rock Casino.”
The RCMP add that this network of underground financing spans all across China. In addition, there are multiple bank accounts in Peru and Mexico. The network is suspected of including over 500 accounts in total.
The Vancouver Sun reports that the, “Edgewater Casino in Vancouver accepted $700,000 in cash from banned individuals, and Starlight Casino in New Westminster accepted $690,000, the audit says.”
Moreover, these casinos purportedly accepted cash from “illegitimate vendors” as well as banned individuals. Gamblers were able to invest cash in Canada and avoid China’s “tight capital export controls” when paying off their loans.
Overseas Scam To Launder Money And Traffic Drugs
In addition to money laundering, there is an even darker layer to the story. These underground financiers are suspected of being connected with international drug traffickers.
In an interview with Vice, Peter Germain links the casino money laundering scam with the fentanyl crisis. The money laundering scheme was caught on surveillance at River Rock Casino. Police collected footage of people dropping off large sums of money in hockey bags to gamblers. They followed these suspects, and were able to link them to known drug-dealers in the BC.
Germain also notes how a great deal of fentanyl comes from labs in Mainland China. In addition, Vancouver is a prominent gateway point for the drug. At the time the surveillance footage was collected, the fentanyl crisis hadn’t hit the lower mainland.
The RCMP even suspect that the underground financing went toward terrorist activity in Iran.