BCLC Accused of Turning a Blind Eye To Money Laundering

By Ben Hamill - November 05 2020

BCLC Accused of Turning a Blind Eye To Money Laundering

The Cullen Commission of Inquiry Into Money Laundering In B.C. has heard a first-hand account of how a former casino investigator had been met with a culture of indifference upon being appointed by the province’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) in 2010. Ron Barber told the commission how he had had precious little authority, and that it appeared to him that the mentioned culture of indifference was a culture long already established.

Barber, a former officer with the Vancouver Police Department, testified how he had between 2010 and 2017 witnessed cash buy-ins accepted by Richmond’s River Rock Casino and Resort grow larger and increasingly more frequent – even to the point of $800,000 in $20 bills being accepted without as much as a single query raised. The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch’s mandate notwithstanding, it appeared to Barber that the organisation was doing little to no enforcing of the country’s Gaming Control Act, the commission heard.

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Omissions Were Routine

Barber’s testimony tied in with those delivered by several investigators at one time or another in the employment of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), who all told of how their daily responsibilities had ultimately involved nothing more than the year-in and year-out writing of reports. What’s more, even when they did try and report anything untoward, said Barber, their requests for formal investigations to be launched were supressed. The situation eventually deteriorated to the point of omissions and reporting errors becoming routine, the commission heard.

As for any independent investigations conducted by the GPEB during the 7-year period of Barber’s employment, the former investigator spoke of there having been none – not even a single independent investigation. Also, said Barber, he during this time spent little time on actual casino floors. Instead, his job appeared to consist of the filing of reports that would never lead to any actual action.

Speaking Out Not Encouraged

What had also become apparent from Barber’s testimony before the commission was that he had grown to fear the repercussions of speaking out against casino staff. This, said Barber, represented to him a certain element of crying wolf.

And judging from Barber’s testimony, his was a fear shared by John Mazure, assistant deputy minister at the GPEB. Mazure reportedly once complained to the former investigator about how he had been unable to get the BCLC to heel - and how he (Mazure) believed GPEB investigators to be nothing more than a bunch of reprobate officials. 

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