BCGEU members are in a unique position to help monitor the laundering of dirty money in B.C. casinos. However, the failure of the former BC Liberal government to provide whistleblower protection for our members ensured there was no avenue for casino workers to expose illegal activity.
In fact, the recent Peter German report on money laundering reveals that the BC Liberal government willfully turned a blind eye to the situation, and even punished those who raised concerns about this illegal practise.
Casino workers deserve adequate employment protection, security and training to identify and report suspicious activities – including recommendations in the Dirty Money report that impact their work:
R19 – That persons working in VIP rooms be provided with an independent avenue to report incidents of inappropriate conduct by patrons.
R30 – That anti-money laundering be a responsibility of the Regulator and that it institute mandatory training for front line gaming personnel, including VIP hosts, with consideration of a Play Right program.
The B.C. Liberals' track record on dirty money in B.C.
The Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET) prepares report warning that if they are disbanded, high-level illegal gambling targets will conduct their operations with impunity.
January 29, 2009:
Report from IIGET warns of "extreme vulnerability" to money laundering in B.C. casinos and describes how Hells Angels members have succeeded in infiltrating gaming operations.
April 1, 2009:
Rich Coleman eliminates funding for IIGET and disbands the unit
October 21, 2009:
IIGET's former commander Fred Pinnock speaks to journalists and states that his team should have been expanded, not shut down.
Inspector Barry Baxter speaks to media about suspicions of dirty money in B.C.'s casinos and "sophisticated money-laundering activities by organized crime."
Rich Coleman criticizes Insp. Baxter and dismissed his concern, saying "Yeah, I know what he said, and I don't agree with him, neither do all the superiors of his in the RCMP." (CBC, 2011)
November 19, 2012:
The head of the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch begins to raise concerns of suspiciously large amounts of cash entering the gambling system. "Who has $200,000 in $20 dollar bills wrapped in elastic bands in $10,000 bundles?" (German, June 27, 2018)
In an email, the head of gaming enforcement investigations warns of the possibility of money laundering and other illegal activity taking place. Instead of acting, Mike de Jong, fires the investigator.
BCLC becomes concerned with the lack of RCMP investigation into dirty money.
After years of BC Liberal denial and failure to act, the money-laundering crisis reaches historic levels with one casino accepting $13.5 million in twenty-dollar bills in a single month.
Government receives a report from MNP LLP recommending changes to anti-money laundering practices. B.C. Liberals fail to implement recommendations and withhold the report from the public.
Attorney General David Eby releases MNP report suppressed by the B.C. Liberal government.
Attorney General David Eby appoints independent expert Peter German to conduct a review of money laundering at B.C. casinos.
An RCMP probe into uncovers alleged international criminal involvement in money laundering at B.C. casinos.
Andrew Wilkinson cashes a cheque for $5000 from Gateway Casinos for his leadership campaign. Other B.C. Liberal contenders cash another $20,000.
December 5, 2017:
Attorney General David Eby announces interim recommendations from Peter German to combat money laundering, and directs BCLC and the GPEB to implement them.
June 27, 2018:
Peter German releases a full report confirming the prevalence of money laundering in B.C. casinos and highlighting the previous government's decision to disband IIGET as making matters worse.
B.C. Liberals hide former Ministers responsible. Instead, Andrew Wilkinson puts forward new MLA Jas Johal who fails to accept any responsibility and blames the RCMP.
RCMP issued a statement to correct the record: "At times, government is briefed on sensitive information concerning police investigation that cannot be released. However, it was the decision of government to disband [the] Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET)."
June 28, 2018:
Andrew Wilkinson himself speaks to the issue. Rather than taking responsibility for the previous B.C. Liberal government ignoring the problem, he again blames the RCMP for the decision to disband the task force.
July 3, 2018:
When asked whether the B.C. Liberal's response to money laundering took too long while the problem grew out of hand, former Attorney General Suzanne Anton says, "That's correct. And it was slow." (CBC, July 3, 2018)
July 5, 2018:
Rich Coleman finally speaks to the issue, but denies responsibility. When asked what he would change now that the extent of dirty money is public, he says "I think it's difficult to say you would do anything differently." (CKNW, July 5, 2018)
He continues to blame the RCMP, and denies that the B.C. Liberals accepted big money from the casinos named in German's report. In fact, Elections BC reports show that between 2015 and 2017, the B.C. Liberals took $220,302 from gateway Casinos and $127,274 from Great Canadian Gaming Corp.
Coleman himself received a $390 donation from Gateway Casinos on Election Day, 2017.
July 10, 2018:
IIGET's former head Fred Pinnock speaks to journalists, clearly states who needs to accept responsibility:
"Fault lies at the feet of the B.C. Liberals while they were in government," said Pinnock. "They all knew what was going on in those casinos […] It was wild west in those large casinos where organized criminal activity was running amok." (Global News, July 10, 2018)
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