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BCLC Makes Opening Statement to Support Money Laundering Inquiry

Posted on February 27, 2020 | 7:36 am

On Monday, BCLC delivered its opening statement to the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, with particular emphasis on the organization’s commitment to protect B.C. casinos from criminal activity.

The inquiry was launched by the NDP-headed government as a response to recent reports that identified the gambling sector as one of the fields with possible money laundering issues. While both real estate and luxury car markets are also on the list, CAD$5bn of laundered money in the province was reported in the media for 2018 alone.

According to reports…

…evidence that people had been allowed to enter casinos with large bags of cash without any questions asked was among other things that gave cause for concerns over possible links to money laundering.

During this week, all parties invited to participate in the inquiry are supposed to make their opening statements, with the process planned to continue in May. The main hearings are scheduled to start in December.

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Confronting Money Laundering

In its opening statement, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation expressed pleasure at being “able to participate in this public inquiry and, together with other participants, to assist the Commission,“ and highlighted five main points related to BCLC functions and responsibilities.

Indicating Anti-money laundering as a priority, BCLC described some of the steps it has taken since 2012 to deal with this issue including the establishment of a dedicated anti-money laundering unit, an Information Sharing Agreement (ISA), as well as the implementation of KYC process and a receipting policy. The latter means, any customer who tries to buy-in with $10,000 or more in cash has to first prove the source of such funds.

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Social Benefits of Legalized Gambling

Special emphasis was placed on the public benefits from legalized gambling in British Columbia: “Millions of dollars of revenue flow from gaming to the government of this province every year to be used for the benefit of British Columbians –this totaled $1.4 billion in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.“

It’s common knowledge, gaming funds are used to support various infrastructural projects, as well as charitable, sports, and arts organizations very important to the community.

In this context…

…BCLC said in the statement: “Accordingly, we respectfully urge the Commission to recognize and consider the important public benefits that flow from responsible gaming in this province as it addresses the issue of money laundering in the gaming industry.“

“That said, BCLC’s focus on revenue growth has never been intended to be at the expense of sustainable gaming conducted in a socially responsible manner. BCLC takes seriously its responsibility to enhance the positive social benefits of gaming while minimizing the potentially negative aspects or consequences.”

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Global Problem Needs Holistic Approach

In summarizing the contents of the statement, BCLC suggested that the money laundering problem in British Columbia is far from being industry-specific and actually only for land-based or online casinos, hence it’s required “a holistic, cross-sector, and cross-jurisdictional approach.“ More than that, considering the global extent of high-tech organized crime, such a complex issue cannot be solved by a single entity.

“Our understanding of money laundering has evolved not just in British Columbia and Canada, but worldwide, and we suggest that caution should be exercised when assessing past events through the lens of what we know today about money laundering,” the BCLC concluded.

Source: “Opening Statement Of British Columbia Lottery Corporation“, BCLC, February 24, 2020

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