The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC) has made no profit for the people, the company’s attorney Mark Skwarok told the BC Money Laundering Commission of Inquiry online on Tuesday.
A case in point, Skwarok said, is when casino staff reported to authorities an apparent sexual assault on a colleague by a VIP player. Skwarok suggested that if the casino were so concerned about pissing off a high roller for fear of losing their table game, Skwarok suggested that it wouldn’t have reported touching a staff member.
“Would you say this is an example of how compliance comes before sales?” Skwarok asked BC Lottery Corporation investigator Daryl Tottenham, who had previously stated that service providers like GCGC were concerned about lost revenue from sanctioning VIP players.
Skwarok’s claim contradicts an April 30, 2018 report by Paladin Security about the preferential treatment of VIP players at the River Rock Casino and Resort in Richmond, and according to employees, the company has failed to report numerous incidents. This included an unreported sexual assault that Paladin described as “established”.
Even so, Skwarok continued his cross-examination against Tottenham.
Skwarok also noted that Richmond Casino has upgraded its camera systems to “beyond the standards set by BCLC.”
Skwarok also said there were times when casino staff raised concerns about a lack of police presence to deal with suspected loan sharks.
Prior to Skwarok’s cross-examination, Tottenham Commissioner Austin Cullen explained how gaming service providers like GCGC were concerned about sanctions against VIP players that would affect their bottom line.
Tottenham testified last week that BCLC had responded to the service provider’s concerns about loss of revenue, and this limited the actions investigators were allowed to take, such as ordering BCLC manager Terry Towns not to interview VIPs.
Skwarok suggested to Tottenham that this didn’t stop BCLC investigators from gaining information about a potentially suspicious user through casino staff that would presumably make it easier for a VIP to ask questions.
Tottenham’s testimony also led to questions from Chantelle Rajotte, attorney for the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB).
Rajotte focused her questions on the thought that BCLC may also have been considering revenue from the enforcement of suspicious activity, as suggested by whistleblowers. BCLC is the Crown agency that licenses gaming venues, promotes gambling, and distributes net revenue to the provincial government. GPEB regulates gaming sites, much like the Nevada Gaming Commission.
Rajotte noticed an email dated September 2015 from Ross Alderson, Tottenham’s manager, stating that his then boss, Robert Kroeker, BCLC vice president of security and compliance, had asked for the total numbers of a VIP client who was on the verge of sanctions.
“When we did this, it clearly had a big impact on the service providers, and I understand that when they look for table drop they are looking for such data because of course they have to have that conversation with the service provider and management,” said Tottenham .
However, Tottenham claimed it was just a matter of BCLC’s consideration and adjustment to the casinos to let them know of the potential impact on business revenue. Tottenham said lost revenue was not a factor in BCLC’s decision making.
“We didn’t want to just put this on the websites and suddenly, boom, 10 or 20 of their players are now on cash-raising terms,” Tottenham explained.
“Management, partly the VP [Kroeker]wanted to be able to contact the service providers in advance … because that wasn’t necessarily the case with Jia Gao, “said Tottenham, referring to the most lucrative high roller at the time.
“The sales concerns from BCLC’s point of view weren’t an issue,” said Tottenham.
The commission has heard various statements about which regulators and law enforcement agencies (BCLC, GPEB, RCMP, FINTRAC) may not have prevented money laundering in BC casinos. The commission learned how sacks of $ 20 bills worth hundreds of thousands of dollars were routinely caged for years (around 2010-17). As such, each agency was represented by its own lawyers such as Rajotte.
Tottenham was also interrogated by Olivia French, an attorney for the Government of Canada, including the RCMP.
Tottenham had previously said it was unaware of police action, but the French discovered that police would never give BCLC details of a criminal investigation, if there was one.
In fact, there was one called E-Pirate who traced the links between organized crime and underground banks from China. However, the charges were dropped in November 2018.
In the coming months, the investigation will also look at how money laundering may have affected the Vancouver real estate market.