B.C. on line casino bosses complained that drug-trafficking probes have been hurting business enterprise: inquiry

Two B.C. casino enterprise executives, together with Terrific Canadian Gaming CEO Rod Baker, complained to BC Lottery Company executives in 2015 that their profits was having a strike since Lottery Corp. investigators had questioned higher rollers at Richmond’s River Rock On line casino who had been connected to a Chinese transnational gang, the province’s revenue-laundering inquiry has read.



FILE - In this 2013 file photo, a dealer resets a deck of cards at a casino in Las Vegas.


© AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
FILE – In this 2013 file photo, a supplier resets a deck of playing cards at a on line casino in Las Vegas.

On Monday, lawyers for the Cullen Commission questioned Lottery Corp. chief functioning officer Brad Desmarais about the issues from Baker and Vancouver Edgewater Casino govt Michael Graydon. Graydon contacted Desmarais in September 2015 to complain about the business influence of significant-roller interviews, the inquiry read. And Baker had referred to as Lottery Corp. CEO Jim Lightbody.

The Crown corporation had uncovered from RCMP in July 2015 that a quantity of River Rock large rollers ended up likely funded by a transnational drug-trafficking community with hyperlinks to terrorist funding, the inquiry heard. This brought about the Lottery Corp. to problem higher rollers whom police had linked to structured criminal offense suspect, Paul King Jin, about their source of cash. But the on line casino executives felt beneficial patrons were being worried away.

“We are acutely knowledgeable of the income implications for equally of us,” Desmarais emailed to Graydon, the inquiry heard. Desmarais said he was “pressing” B.C.’s casino regulator to disrupt illegal casinos where by the superior rollers may perhaps have taken their enterprise.

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The inquiry also listened to about a September 2015 e-mail from Lottery Corp. CEO Jim Lightbody to Desmarais. Lightbody experienced previously testified that Baker complained to him about driving absent River Rock superior rollers with resource-of-cash interviews.

“I named Rod currently … reiterated (Lottery Corp. compliance executives Desmarais and Robert Kroeker would operate with Good Canadian workers),” Lightbody’s email to Desmarais stated. “He seemed to tranquil down.”

Desmarais was probed Monday about a collection of e-mail in between him and Lottery Corp. investigator Daryl Tottenham in December 2014.

A River Rock patron experienced produced $1.8 million in transactions with small charges in just seven days, Tottenham explained to Desmarais, and casino staff members had not noted some of the substantial roller’s suspicious transactions. He warned that the patron was most likely to return to the on line casino the following evening.

Desmarais responded, inquiring if River Rock could problem the VIP on his supply of funds. On the other hand, the patron ongoing with suspicious dollars transactions and River Rock staff members did not query him, the inquiry listened to.

“I realize we do not want to jeopardize revenue,” Tottenham said in the e-mail Desmarais, adding that it might be best for Lottery Corp. investigators to job interview the patron alternatively.

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The inquiry heard past 7 days that Graydon — who was CEO of the Lottery Corp. right until 2014 — experienced pressured executives to fulfill their revenue targets or else have their bonuses withheld.

The revenue pressures occurred although B.C. Gaming Policy Enforcement Department personnel have been urging Lottery Corp. administration to crack down on hundreds of thousands and thousands in $20 expenses flooding into B.C. casinos via the bets of Chinese substantial rollers that the branch considered were being funded by Asian gangs.

“I want to stress to this group that it is essential that we come in on price range from a internet earnings standpoint,” an email from Graydon to his Lottery Corp. executives claimed, the inquiry heard. “I expect anyone to realize that.”

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When Desmarais was employed in 2013, he pushed back again on the enforcement branch’s warning that arranged criminal offense was flooding B.C. casinos with drug income from China, the inquiry heard.

In a person scenario, he wrote an interior report that prompt authentic underground banking was the source of money for overseas superior rollers, the inquiry heard, and that massive quantities of funds in B.C. casinos were “often erroneously affiliated to structured criminal offense.”

The inquiry also heard that in December 2014, Desmarais provided a “technical briefing” on B.C. casinos to the deputy minister liable for gaming, Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland, and that Lightbody and a staffer for then-gaming minister Mike de Jong were being there way too.

Commission lawyer Alison Latimer asked Desmarais why he told Wenezenki-Yolland that forms of international underground banking could reveal the superior rollers’ resource of income.

Desmarais had already met with B.C. anti-gang models to go over investigations into a suspected Asian arranged crime financial loan-sharking ring at River Rock On line casino, Latimer said, and that he experienced communicated regularly with Lottery Corp. investigator Mike Hiller, who informed him that most Chinese significant rollers at the casino received their income from loan sharks and organized to spend back loans in China.

“Did you tell (Wenezenki-Yolland that the suspicious hard cash employed by large rollers) could be attributed to underground banking?” Latimer asked.

“I never ever explained it was completely attributable,” Desmarais claimed.

Latimer pointed out that Wenezenki-Yolland raised a concern that underground banking transactions could breach Canada’s “banking act.”

Desmarais informed Latimer that he agreed with Wenezenki-Yolland, nevertheless took no action on the problem she highlighted.

And Desmarais preserved he nonetheless believes most River Rock significant-rollers were legit enterprise folks that ended up “unwitting” of becoming funded by transnational drug-trafficking and dollars laundering techniques, which is what the RCMP has alleged.

His cross-assessment was established to keep on this 7 days.

Rod Baker stepped down as Excellent Canadian Gaming president in January soon after he and his spouse were being investigated for misrepresenting them selves to obtain an early dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s even now feasible Baker could be summoned to testify at the inquiry, a spokeswoman for the fee verified to World wide News.