Money laundering inquiry: BCLC investigator testifies supervisor told him not to talk to casino customers
With the provincial election now over, the Cullen Commission has resumed hearing from witnesses in the inquiry into money laundering in British Columbia.
On Monday, the commission heard from Steve Beeksma, a British Columbia Lottery Corporation anti-money laundering specialist who had previously worked as a surveillance manager for Great Canadian Gaming Corporaton.
In Beeksma’s role with the BCLC, he was stationed at Richmond’s River Rock Casino.
He told the commission that casino staff regularly accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in elastic band-bundled $20 bills in exchange for casino chips.
In one incident, Beeksma said a man gambling at the River Rock received a phone call before proceeding directly to the parking lot where someone handed him a shopping bag with $645,000 inside.
“The man was one of the biggest players in the province at the time,” Beeksma testified.
He was able to exchange all $645,000 for casino chips.
“Is this consistent with the type of large cash buy ins that were happening at the time?” commission lawyer Patrick McGowan asked Beeksma.
“It would definitely be on the higher end of what was typical,” Beeksma answered. “But yes.”
Beeksma wrote a report on the suspicious incident but the BCLC did not immediately take any action to stop the man from continuing to frequent casinos and exchange large sums of cash for chips.
"I understood that it was our role as investigators not to intervene,” he said as he read from a previously submitted affidavit. “And then I mention a meeting whereby we were directly told that we don't talk to the customers. So that was my understanding based on that particular interaction -- that it wasn't our role."
Beeksma testified that message was once conveyed to him very clearly in a meeting with a supervisor.
“We’re not cops and stop interviewing players, essentially is what he told us,” Beeksma testified.
McGowan than asked him if the supervisor used particularly strong language.
“Yes, in my recollection his words were, ‘Cut that s**t out,’” Beeksma replied.
The commission will hear from other BCLC employees and the former officer in charge of the Richmond RCMP as testimony continues this week.