Cullen Commission Told About Assault Cover Up

By Ben Hamill - February 16 2021
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Cullen Commission Told About Assault Cover Up

The ongoing Cullen Commission into money laundering in British Columbia recently heard how a manager of River Rock Casino had tried to smooth over a complaint of assault reported by a casino staff member about a VIP high-roller – all in an effort to retain revenue and VIP customers’ business. The manager in question also went as far as trying to avoid a call being logged with law enforcement.

This particular piece of testimony was heard on the second day of questioning of Great Canadian Gaming’s acting CEO, Terrance Doyle. Also brought to the commission’s attention was an email by British Columbia Lottery Corp. special investigator Ross Alderson, dated March 2017. The email referred to River Rock Casino being an exception in terms of non-compliance being swept constantly under the carpet, and a venue at the centre of multiple compliance concerns since as far back as October 2015. 

Read More...All Eyes On Cullen Commission Of Inquiry

The Rules Were Bent For VIPs

This non-compliance, suggested Commission lawyer Alison Latimer to Doyle, had been rooted in massive cash transactions and the general bending of the rules for VIP spenders and their grossly inappropriate actions and behaviour.

Concerns outlined in Alderson’s email as well as by many others who had previously tried to raise concern about the ongoing issues at the casino included:

  • A total of 266 suspicious cash transactions were never reported by River Rock Casino – this because managers and casino staff brazenly refused to report cash transactions of under $50,000.
  • River Rock employees turned a blind eye to at least 29 large cash transactions of over $50,000.
  • River Rock had fallen into the habit of cashing out high-limit Baccarat players using bills of a high denomination, even when the initial casino chips had been purchased with bills of a small denomination.

Latimer wanted to know from the acting chief executive whether he considers the casino’s actions to have been equal to non-compliance with anti-money laundering laws. Doyle responded by saying that he did not see any issues with the way in which bills had been paid out due to employees having reported that high rollers had received $100 bills in return for chips bought with $20 bills.

Money Talks

The commission of inquiry also heard several more details about former River Rock VIP-room manager Lisa Gao’s relationship with Asian high-roller Li Lin Sha. The latter had reportedly been involved in over 450 big-money cash transactions across several casinos overseen by the BCLC.

The BCLC and River Rock Casino management had however dismissed all complaints about Sha’s behaviour, defending the high roller’s actions on the basis of “cultural” preferences by Chinese high rollers.

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