The BC Lottery Corporation CEO failed to follow orders from the provincial government in 2015 to turn down mysterious cash transactions by foreign high rollers, concluding that doing so would result in losses of hundreds of millions per year, a public money laundering investigation found.

In August 2015, then Minister of Gaming Mike de Jong sent a letter to CEO Jim Lightbody, in which he described Lottery Corp. instructed high rollers to ask for their source of cash after the British Columbia government learned of a major organized crime investigation by RCMP at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, a British Columbia government attorney told the Cullen Commission on Friday.

The commission tasked with determining whether corruption led to money laundering in British Columbia casinos has learned that the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Department has concluded that after 2010 there were suspicious cash transactions involving Asian gangs , Loan sharks and Chinese high rollers have grown exponentially and that 2014 BC casino drug money laundering suspicions were forecast to be around $ 200 million a year.

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And the Lottery Corp. was alerted in 2014 with an internal investigation report that most Chinese VIPs were paying cash borrowed from loan shark gangs in Richmond, China.



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Former chief executive officer and manager of Great Canadian Gaming testify with the Cullen Commission


Former chief executive officer and manager of Great Canadian Gaming testify with the Cullen Commission

On Friday, government attorney Kaitlyn Chewka read the minutes of a board meeting of Lottery Corp. October 2015, where Lightbody and Chairman Bud Smith discussed the implications of de Jong’s August 2015 instruction to raise funds from high rollers.

The board’s response was discussed. “Given management estimates, if fully implemented, the impact of the instruction would be hundreds of millions of dollars for BCLC,” the minutes read, Chewka said.

The Lottery Corp. Didn’t require high rollers bringing large amounts of cash into casinos to declare their source of funds until January 2018 after an independent review of money laundering in BC casinos made the recommendation.

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The investigation found that law enforcement general manager John Mazure had repeatedly directed Lightbody in 2015 and 2016 to do more to pinpoint the origins of massive cash transactions in several British Columbia casinos, as well as the overseas high rollers who handle the cash present, understand and their sources of wealth.

“Mr. Lightbody, I tell you, the reason (BC Lottery Corp.) did not previously establish a general source (of funds) requirement is that it would result in lost revenue,” Chewka said. “You would agree with me? “

Lightbody said he never understood de Jong or Mazure’s instructions to ask Crown Corporation to broadly apply the citation. Instead, she chose to investigate dozens of high rollers who she found to be related to organized crime or at high risk for money laundering, Lightbody said.

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According to the CEO of BC Lottery Corp. Casino wagering limits rose to $ 100,000 despite being connected to underground banks

And he testified that he had discovered with Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland, de Jong’s deputy minister, that de Jong “not all cash transactions” needed a source of funds explanation. Lightbody backed his claim with an undated note from his personal transcript, the investigation heard.

However, the investigation has revealed that Mazure has complained that Lightbody is refusing to follow the branch’s anti-money laundering instructions.

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Former branch investigator Rob Barber previously told the investigation that Mazure asked Wenezenki-Yolland to intervene at a meeting in late 2015 or early 2016.

“Mr. Mazure explained to the entire room that BC Lottery Corp. wouldn’t listen to him … and he was frustrated,” Barber testified.

“He has tried to address the dirty money problem and, in front of all of us, he has reached out orally to (Wenezenki-Yolland) for their assistance on the matter. And her answer was, “You have to take care of it.”


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Former senior cop testifies to the Cullen Commission


Former senior cop testifies to the Cullen Commission – December 2, 2020

Lightbody was also interrogated by the attorney for Paul King Jin, the alleged organized crime suspect who ran a network that funded most of the Chinese high rollers associated with suspicious money at River Rock Casino.

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Jin’s attorney Greg DelBigio asked Lightbody why he didn’t just crack down on cash transactions.

“If you don’t want dirty money coming into a casino, ban cash,” DelBigio said. “Isn’t it that easy?”

According to Lightbody, anti-money laundering is more complex and criminals are always looking for ways to circumvent regulations.

“Compliance has always outperformed sales,” said Lightbody.

Lightbody had testified the day before that after the 2010 Winter Olympics, an “influx” of wealthy players from China and Hong Kong had come to Vancouver and that Lottery Corp. did not know where they got duffel bags of $ 20 bills tied in elastic bands used to buy casino chips.

But he told the commission’s attorney, Patrick McGowan, that the Lottery Corp. compliance team. have done “everything in our power” to mitigate the risks associated with the mysterious money.

And in September 2015, he testified, he asked senior BC officials whether the company should reduce or eliminate the “high-limit” Bakarat games, which had been raised to $ 100,000 per hand in 2014, to suit Chinese VIPs will.

He said he was told that British Columbia’s Liberal Minister at the time, Mike de Jong, “would handle it from an enforcement side.”

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Gangs made BC casinos too dangerous to look for money laundering

In his closing statement, Lightbody alleged that his investigative team interviewed a number of high rollers at River Rock in September 2015 after the Lottery Corp. learned of the RCMP’s major money laundering investigations against Jin and VIPs at the casino.

According to Lightbody, Great Canadian Gaming President Rod Baker complained that interviews were putting the casino’s VIPs off and urged Lightbody not to harm River Rock’s business any more.

Lightbody said he emailed Baker and refused to break off the interviews.

The investigation also found that Baker continued to work with Lottery Corp. in 2012. complained about VIP interviews and that investigators were ordered not to contact River Rock High Roller.

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