“This client brought $ 1.8 million to River Rock Casino, largely in the form of small bills, over a seven-day period… Would you agree with me that these types of transactions are suspicious? Chewka asked Karlovcec.
He agreed that was true and said these transactions would have been reported to GPEB and the police, as well as Fintrac, Canada’s financial transaction reporting center.
But Chewka stressed that the role of the BCLC in tackling suspicions of money laundering involves more than just reporting unusual transactions. The company oversees gambling in British Columbia and has the power to order casinos to take action in situations like this.
“Although he was aware of this problem as early as December 26, 2014… BCLC did not order the service provider to refuse the money? Chewka asked.
“The BCLC did not order the service provider to require the client to seek the funds?” ”
Karlovcec said the customer in question would have been placed under investigation, but forcing the casino to take further action was not within his authority.
Chewka pointed out that in emails from Karlovcec dealing with transactions, he wrote: “I agree that we do not want to jeopardize revenues”.
But Karlovcec testified that he was under no pressure to prioritize casino revenues at the time.
Friction between agencies
The Cullen Commission of Inquiry into British Columbia Money Laundering was launched by the government after reporting that illegal money was helping fuel the real estate, luxury car and gambling industries in Province.
Karlovcec’s testimony on Friday also alluded to friction between BCLC investigators and their GPEB counterparts, in the police and among casino staff when it came to taking action against money laundering.
Karlovcec explained how, in 2014, his team created profiles of the top 10 “cash facilitators” – or loan sharks – operating in River Rock at the time.
These profiles, which included identifying details, photos and a list of known associates, were all provided to the Combined Forces Special Gang Enforcement Unit and Karlovcec said he believed they would be used to initiate criminal investigations.
“But I don’t think they did,” he told the inquest. “I think there were other tactical priorities for their group. ”
Karlovcec also suggested that BCLC investigators were often left in the dark about ongoing work at GPEB.
“It was like pulling our teeth out sometimes. Of course, we did not get a lot of information from them, ”he told the inquiry.
Meanwhile, Karlovcec said he has a good working relationship with compliance officials at River Rock, but emails read for the commission suggest that there have been situations where senior casino officials have turned to each other. bristling about the BCLC investigators approaching the big players.
In one of those emails, Patrick Ennis, then vice president of corporate security and compliance for Great Canadian Gaming Corp., suggested investigators “could be a little more polite” in speaking with VIPs. in a high stakes room about big money buy-ins at River Rock.
The commission is expected to resume hearings on Monday morning.