BCLC warned repeatedly about money laundering: documents
As BC Lottery prepares to appeal a massive fine from Canada's federal money laundering watchdog, documents obtained by CTV News show the company was warned time and again to be more diligent identifying suspicious transactions at its casinos.
The $670,000 fine followed a federal audit last June by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (Fintrac) that revealed hundreds of errors made reporting cash transactions over $10,000.
The company argued most of the problems stemmed from clerical errors or delays – but internal provincial government audit documents show the BCLC was warned for years that it was breaking the rules.
From 2005 to 2009, the B.C. gaming enforcement branch told the lottery corporation its casinos failed to identify suspicious transactions, didn't collect enough information on potential criminals, and many of the reports that were filed were late.
In 2008, auditors told lotto corporation staff to stop reclassifying suspicious transactions to avoid reporting them.
"On what basis they would downgrade it, I don't know. But the very fact that it's downgraded tends to raise some eyebrows," criminologist Colin Campbell said.
After 2008, the corporation moved to improve employee training. By 2009, 53 per cent of staff were trained, but three casinos had no formal training for 18 months.
"If they don't know the rules, they aren't going to report and it allows the criminals a free licence to continue to money launder," Campbell said.
NDP Gambling Critic Shane Simpson says BC Lottery needs to be more committed to helping police.
"They can only do this work if the lottery corporation reports to them appropriately," Simpson said. "These documents show the lottery corporation … failed to do that, and they have failed to do that year after year."
But BCLC CEO Mike Graydon said the company has improved training since those audits. "We are, in fact, responding to a lot of these issues," he said.
He also says the company only endorses a payout if a win is confirmed. "You must have a verified win to get a cheque in a casino. You leave with the same cash you came in with. That's not money laundering," he said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward