British Columbia

Money-laundering concerns at B.C. casinos grew as 2010 Olympics neared, inquiry hears

A former British Columbia gaming official says concerns were raised as larger amounts of suspicious cash with possible links to money laundering began showing up at casinos while the province prepared to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Cullen Commission told of increase in suspicious cash as RCMP prepared to police Winter Games

Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia Commissioner Austin Cullen is pictured during the first days of hearings at the Federal Court of Canada in Vancouver, B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A former British Columbia gaming official says concerns were raised as larger amounts of suspicious cash with possible links to money laundering began showing up at casinos while the province prepared to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Larry Vander Graaf told the public inquiry into money laundering there was an increase in suspected illegal money at casinos at the same time the RCMP was preparing to mount Canada's largest-ever security effort to police the Olympics.

The former executive director of the B.C. Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch says staffing issues on the policing side were evident as the RCMP prepared for the Games, but serious concerns were also appearing at casinos.

Vander Graaf says investigators started noticing more suspicious cash at casinos beyond loan-sharking activities in 2007, and by 2010 the casinos were "like a drive-in" where bags of $20 bills were being delivered to parking lots.

He says he started raising concerns that B.C. casinos were being used as vehicles for money laundering because people were buying $10,000 worth of gaming chips with bundles of $20 bills wrapped in elastic bands.

The B.C. government launched a public inquiry following several reports that concluded hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash was fuelling B.C.'s real estate, luxury vehicle and gaming sectors.

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