Former managers of Great Canadian Gaming are at fault. They failed to reveal that Great Canadian Gaming was pushing back investigations into money laundering in local casinos.
As the Cullen Commission continues its inquiry, such issues are coming to light. Taking the stand, some former managers of Richmond’s River Rock casino acknowledged that some company executives limited investigators into foreign high-rollers for suspected drug-cash transactions.
It is already known that several Vancouver casinos like the River Rock allowed suspicious transactions, likely at the hand of Asian organized crime’s loan sharks. High Rollers seemed to be free to buy casino chips with drug cash. The money would ultimately go into the hands of Chinese gangs.
The concern goes back to when British Columbia’s Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch suspected that such money laundering could reach about $200 million per year by 2014.
Recent testimony from River Rock Casino compliance manager, Robert Kroeker, and former general manager, Rick Duff, revealed that Great Canadian Gaming managers didn’t want the B.C. Lottery Corp. to question high-rollers from China.
Per Kroeker, “They didn’t want action taken that would needlessly drive the customer away.” Meanwhile, while a notorious loan shark, Paul King Jin, was banned from the River Rock Casino in 2012, he continued to provide cash to VIPs at the casino.
“If (the cash) was knowingly coming from someone that
was outside (the casino), it should have been refused.”
As early as 1997, per Duff, the Chinese VIP market in Vancouver casinos started, around the time that China took over Hong Kong. Gang activity ensued as Great Canadian sought to build River Rock’s VIP sector. Apparently, River Rock’s VIP room staff knew the high-rollers intimately and socially. This market (with sky high bet limits) drove 50 percent of the casino’s revenue.
Why did Duff clash with Lottery Corp. investigators, Mike Hiller and Ross Alderson, over VIPs receiving funds from loan sharks, or the massive amounts of $20 bills used in transactions?
“I thought your job was to report (suspicious transactions)
and let the real police investigate.”
Of note, Duff didn’t recall telling Hiller he would change River Rock Casino’s surveillance practices if the Lottery Corp. continued to probe high-rollers.
On the hotseat, Duff was also questioned about a Lottery Corp. review, showing he went out for dinner with a female patron involved in suspicious transactions. The woman had been seen receiving $50,000 in cash in a casino washroom from a previously banned loan shark.
She exited his vehicle with a purse that contained $50,000 in cash, which she then used to buy casino chips. This put Duff in a precarious position with investigators like Steve Beeksma.
Duff denied the accusation, alleging he had not been aware that she planned to use the cash at River Rock Casino.
“I recall driving (the female patron) back to the casino after
dinner…I don’t recall her purse, or what was in her purse.”
As for Kroeker, who left Great Canadian Gaming to become a Lottery Corp. compliance director in September 2015, he suggested that B.C. Attorney General David Eby had politicized British Colombia’s government’s independent review of casino money laundering.
Meanwhile, Rod Baker, Great Canadian Gaming’s president, has announced his resignation. It is no surprise given that he was previously named as an executive who allegedly complained to the Lottery Corp. about investigators questioning VIPs at River Rock Casino.