RICHMOND, B.C. – The head of a company that runs a British Columbia casino alleged to have taken in millions that could be proceeds of crime says procedures to ensure compliance with regulations are strictly followed.
Rod N. Baker says the Great Canadian Gaming Corp. has a “culture of integrity and transparency” and is committed to preventing illegal activities at all of its locations, including the River Rock Casino in Richmond.
“We are proud of our track record, and the positive and open working relationship we have with our regulatory authorities and Crown partners,” he said in a statement released Monday.
Last month, the B.C. government announced an independent expert’s review of the province’s policies in the gambling industry after concerns were raised about the possibility of money laundering at River Rock.
Attorney General David Eby said he launched the probe after reading a report about the casino accepting $13.5 million in $20 bills in July 2015 that police said could be proceeds of crime involving Asian VIP clients.
Baker said Great Canadian initially detected suspicious activity at the casino in 2012 and that its ongoing monitoring and reporting to the B.C. Lottery Corp. was crucial to identifying the individuals allegedly involved.
The company provides records about unusual and large cash transactions directly to the lottery corporation, which assesses whether the transactions raise enough concern for further investigation, he added.
“Contrary to suggestions in certain media reports, to our knowledge our company is not under investigation in any jurisdiction. Our employees followed all procedures required of them by BCLC and we do not believe our company’s actions would give cause to initiate any investigation,” he said.
Baker said the company has contacted Peter German, who was appointed by Eby to conduct a review of the lottery corporation’s policies and practices to prevent money laundering.
“Great Canadian is proud of its culture of integrity and positive interaction with our regulators and Crown partners, and will adopt any changes or improvements to the regulatory structure that result from the review.”
Eby said he thought a July 2016 report commissioned by the province’s previous Liberal government should have been made public when it was completed. The report done by the accounting and consulting firm MNP compiled documents from B.C.’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch.
It says single cash buy-ins in excess of $500,000 with no known source of funds were accepted at River Rock.
“Law enforcement intelligence has indicated that this currency may be the direct proceeds of crime,” the report says.
The report makes more than a dozen recommendations, including implementing policies that casinos refuse unsourced cash deposits exceeding an established dollar amount, that anti-money laundering training programs are evaluated, and that casinos work to support cash-alternatives.
A B.C. Lottery Corp. document in response said many recommendations in the report have been addressed though it was awaiting more direction from the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch on dealing with and refusing large, unsourced cash deposits.
The MNP report says its review wasn’t meant to provide an analysis about whether money laundering was actually occurring in B.C.’s casinos.