British Columbia’s Attorney General David Eby has assured the public that there is “no casino operator in our province that has organized crime involvement.”
His comments follow the discovery by Global News of a suppressed 2009 report which revealed that a BC regulatory investigator had allowed a businessman with “connections to Asian organized crime” to purchase a stake in a BC Lottery Corp casino, despite the official knowing about his associations.
Both the businessman and official were unnamed in the report. The latter was identified as having retired from the BC government, but in 2009 was still “involved in the legitimate gaming industry.”
The report also claimed that the interests of the province’s legitimate casino industry and become intertwined with its illegal underground casinos and they shared the same criminal elements, including money laundering, loan sharking, corruption, violence, and human trafficking.
But rather than act on the report’s recommendations, the province’s Liberal government of the time disbanded the police unit that compiled it, the RCMP’s Anti-Illegal Gaming Unit (AIGU).
On Thursday, Eby praised Global News for publishing details of the document, which were obtained after numerous freedom-of-information requests.
“I’m glad the document is in the public domain now,” Eby told KTW. “It’s a document that I was familiar with. Now that it’s public, it helps the public understand why I was so concerned about the previous government’s failures to crack down.”
It wasn’t until Eby’s New Democratic Party came to power in 2017 that the full extent of money laundering at BC casinos was uncovered, along with other reports that had apparently been supressed. BC’s money laundering problem — which had strong ties to the drugs cartels — quickly became a national scandal in Canada.
Police Unit Shutdown ‘Troubling’
Eby called the decision to shut AIGU down just three months after it presented its report “troubling.”
“I would think anyone that reads a report about kidnapping, extortion, organized crime involvement in casinos, their immediate instinct wouldn’t be to disband the policing team, it would be ‘should we providing more resources, what’s going wrong here, how do we fix this problem?’” he told Global News.
The fact that we know the money laundering continued in casinos in the Lower Mainland for another seven years after that report, until the new government was sworn in, is really inexcusable in my opinion,” Eby added.
BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said this week he had requested all copies of documents that related to money laundering under the previous administration, but they would be “reviewed” before being turned over to an ongoing public inquiry.
“You have got to understand that this is over a 17-year period,” he said. “It could be a whole room full of material some poor soul has to go through.”