Commission Hears How Losses Fueled BCLC Inaction
The Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering In B.C. late last week heard how the possibility of major financial losses had fueled money laundering-inaction on the part of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). Several witnesses testified about how the Crown corporation had turned a blind eye to criminal activities and Asian-driven organised crime for fear that taking any sort of action would only lead to a major decline in revenue.
Government lawyer Kaitlyn Chewka last Friday presented the commission with a reading of notes taken at an October 2015 meeting between BCLC chief executive Jim Lightbody and chairman of the board, Bud Smith. According to the notes read before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen, the two men were during the meeting in question discussing a proposal logged by then-gaming minister Mike de Jong, which involved placing an obligation on high rollers to declare the source of their funds.
The meeting, so indicates the notes read by Chewka, ultimately concluded that following de Jong’s advice would only lead to hundreds of millions in revenue lost.
The Corrupt Bigger Picture
The most recent information presented before the commission resonates with a testimony delivered by former casino investigator Rob Barber. According to Barber, his efforts to fulfil his mandate from B.C.’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) were met with a culture of indifference and ignorance – a culture he said he believed had been ingrained in the BCLC’s inner workings for a very long time.
Barber, who happens to be a former officer of the Vancouver Police Department, testified how he had spanning a period of nearly 7 years, between 2010 and 2017, witnessed massive cash transactions accepted by Richmond’s River Rock Casino and Resort. These continued to grow increasingly larger and more frequent as time wore one, testified Barber, and eventually reached the point of hundreds of thousands of $20 bills being carted onto the casino floor in duffel bags.
Damning Testimony Against CEO
Barber’s experience of the situation was shared and confirmed by John Mazure, general manager of the GPEB in 2015 and 2016.
Mazure’s unhappiness regarding the situation had been stoked by an inability on his part of getting those in management to comply with the authority bestowed upon the gaming enforcement branch by government. Mazure had also reportedly on several occasions urged Lightbody to adopt the necessary anti-money laundering protocols, but the latter had refused each time.