"Lax BCLC reporting lets criminals flourish." That was one of the headlines today, following a report by CKNW's Brett Minneer that the federal intelligence agency which monitors money laundering and terrorist financing had fined the British Columbia Lottery Corp. more than $670,000. But such accusations won't come as a surprise to our readers. After all, we've been investigating these issues for the past year. For example, in an exclusive interview with Public Eye this past October, the former commander of the province's now-defunct integrated illegal gaming enforcement team Fred Pinnock accused the RCMP of "playing ostrich" about the problems inside legal gaming facilities. "It obvious that highly-pedigreed gangsters frequent these venues on a continuing basis," he explained. "There's a ton of criminal activity being conducted in these places every day, including money laundering, loansharking and other enterprise crimes."
Then, in January, the government's former casino investigations manager Ed Rampone told us - when he was in the civil service - not a lot of resources were spent on catching loan sharks because such investigations would have sucked up time and money better used to stamp out more serious crimes such as drug dealing.
But gaming minister Rich Coleman earlier dismissed Mr. Pinnock's concerns, telling reporters, "In every casino in B.C. we have the highest security - both visual and people on site. If you ever go into a casino, you'll find that we spend millions of dollars on all kinds of cameras and monitoring and stuff like that. We have people on site working 24/7. We also a very, very sophisticated team of people that do the investigations on gaming in B.C. that actually integrate with police. So I just disagree with what his assessment was."
As for the fines issued by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, lottery corporation president and chief executive officer Michael Graydon has said they related to "administrative" breaches and had "nothing at all" to do with money laundering or terrorism. This, according to The Province's Ethan Baron.