Many casinos in the Lower Mainland were found to be laundering sites for illicit cash, resulting in a lengthy report from Peter German, who gave 48 recommendations for change. The City of Victoria is following up to see what has been done with these recommendations before moving any further ahead with considering a new casino. In this photo, people working at an unidentified casino in the Lower Mainland are caught on video shuffling illicit cash. (Photo courtesy of Government of B.C.)

Many casinos in the Lower Mainland were found to be laundering sites for illicit cash, resulting in a lengthy report from Peter German, who gave 48 recommendations for change. The City of Victoria is following up to see what has been done with these recommendations before moving any further ahead with considering a new casino. In this photo, people working at an unidentified casino in the Lower Mainland are caught on video shuffling illicit cash. (Photo courtesy of Government of B.C.)

Victoria wants more information on money laundering prevention in casinos

Council is hesitant to open new casino after Lower Mainland sites were found cleaning illicit cash

Victoria City Council is looking for details from the B.C. Lottery Corporation and the B.C. Attorney General about how they will prevent money laundering in any future casinos.

In a report released in March 2018 by Peter German, a lawyer and RCMP veteran, casinos in the Lower Mainland were determined to have “unwittingly served as laundromats for the proceeds of organized crime.”

German put forward 48 recommendations for the BCLC, the provincial and federal governments, and police to try to prevent further problems.

Victoria City Councillor Jeremy Loveday wants to know what government bodies have done with those recommendations since Victoria was selected by the BCLC in 2015 as a prime contender for a new casino.

READ MORE: B.C. casino accused of illegal activity follows rules

“I’ve been opposed to the city as a host site, but in the very least I think council needs this information before moving forward with a decision of whether we want a casino downtown,” Loveday said. “In my mind it’s imperative that we have the facts and outcomes at hand before considering any applications for a new casino so we can make sure we can safeguard our communities.”

The BCLC said in an email that the most recent changes to B.C. casinos began in January 2018, stemming from recommendations put forward by German in an interim report.

These included the need for all casinos to complete a source of funds declaration for all cash, bank drafts and certified cheque forms of buy-ins over $10,000. This means detailed information about where a patron’s funds are coming from is now recorded. Casino patrons must also provide an original receipt from a bank as proof of the source of funds.

READ MORE: City of Victoria to take public’s temperature on casino

“BCLC is committed to a robust compliance program to prevent, detect and report suspicious activity in B.C. gambling facilities,” said BCLC spokesperson Lara Gerrits in an email. “BCLC is working with Government on recommendations contained within Dr. Peter German’s report, and remains steadfast in its commitment to ongoing improvement of its anti-money laundering program.”

Attorney General David Eby said in an email that the government is doing its best to follow German’s recommendations.

“Our government believes it’s critical to restore British Columbia’s international reputation, and ensure that B.C.’s casinos are never again considered a safe haven for laundering the proceeds of organized crime,” Eby said.

“We have already taken action on several of Dr. German’s recommendations and seen a dramatic decrease in suspicious cash transactions as a result. As we implement Dr. German’s remaining recommendations, I’m confident anti-money laundering systems will be further strengthened in B.C.”

Eby’s office reported that six of the 48 steps have been fully completed, including the development of a transaction analysis team; that that team meet weekly, that the BCLC not engage in any undercover operations (unless police are working with them), that no more expenses be incurred by BCLC with respect to certain software systems, that cash limits are not imposed by buy-ins, and that regulatory investigators continue to be Special Provincial Constables.

For Loveday, his largest concerns surround the wider implications an illegal casino operation could cause. Money laundering in the Lower Mainland was linked to the opioid epidemic and the housing crisis, problems that Loveday said cannot be exacerbated in Victoria.

READ MORE: Elements Casino preps for Saturday’s grand opening

“We’re facing that same storm of crises here and we need to do everything as a community to make sure we’re not worsening these crises and taking steps to prevent them.”

Loveday has motioned that council write to the BCLC and the Attorney General for updates, and has scheduled the proposal for the upcoming council meeting on Thursday, Sept. 20.

At this point, the BCLC said that they are in the procurement process to get a potential service provider for a downtown Victoria casino and that nothing has been approved by either the BCLC or the City of Victoria.

Previously, the Crystal Gardens had been a potential site, but that idea is reportedly no longer being considered.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

City of Victoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tina Starkey with her seven-month-old puppy Sugar on the E&N Trail in Esquimalt. Starkey now carries a small personal alarm device, her thumb on the button. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Encounters leave Vic West woman concerned for her safety

The 50-year-old wants self defence training, says she’s not alone

FUN IN THE SUN
Soloman and seven-year-old Zev Nagler dig up a crab in the tidal flats in Witty's Lagoon Regional Park as part of Metchosin Biodiversity Day on Saturday. (James MacKenzie/Black Press)
Witty’s Beach stair access closed again

Repairs will be complete by summer, mayor says

An early morning fire along Cameron Street has left two cats dead and two tenants homeless. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Early morning fire guts Victoria house, leaves 2 cats dead

Victoria Fire Department called out shortly before 2 a.m.

Starting in June, Government Street will be closed to most vehicles between Humboldt and View streets. A section of Government Street was transformed into a pedestrian-priority walkway in the wake of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria plans 10-hour closures of Government Street come June

City’s business relief plan extended, Government St. from Humboldt to View closed noon to 10 p.m.

The Better Business Bureau is reminding people to do their research before starting any home improvement projects this spring. (Black Press Media file photo)
Don’t get scammed on home improvements, warns Better Business Bureau

Scams typically involve paying cash upfront for jobs that never get done, says BBB

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The freed osprey keeps a wary eye on its rescuers after being deposited on its nest. (Photo credit: Greg Hiltz)
Hydro crew in Ashcroft gets osprey rescue call-out they won’t soon forget

Bird was tangled in baling wire hanging from a hydro pole, necessitating a tricky rescue

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to announce travel restrictions today to limit COVID-19 spread

Mike Farnworth is expected to give details of what the government views as essential travel

A downed power line has sparked a brush fire along Yellow Point Road south of Nanaimo. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Vancouver Islanders warned of fire risk caused by dry conditions

As dry spell poised to end, officials warn of risks involved with backyard burning

Richard Desautel with supporters outside the courthouse in Nelson, B.C., in 2016. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
UPDATED: Sinixt, First Nation bordering Canada-U.S., can claim Indigenous rights, top court rules

The decision essentially reverses a 1956 declaration the Sinixt were extinct

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

Most Read