WATCH: A video from the Ministry of Attorney General shows alleged money laundering at a B.C. casino.
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An independent report released Wednesday says all B.C. casinos, including nine located on Vancouver Island, were used for large-scale, transnational money laundering for organized crime.
Attorney General David Eby released former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German’s 247-page report called “Dirty Money”, tracking how money was moved illegally from casinos into the province’s economy.
“The German report paints a troubling picture of government that didn’t respond effectively to pervasive money laundering in B.C. casinos. German found they didn’t effectively detect, prevent or prosecute it – they turned a blind eye to it,” Eby said.
“The era of inaction and denial is over. We are moving immediately to get dirty money out of B.C. casinos.”
The attorney general also connected the money-laundering operations to the opioid crisis and to driving people out of communities because skyrocketing housing prices.
German said casinos were used to launder $100 million as part of a scheme called the “Vancouver model,” saying organized crime groups, primarily from Asia, used B.C. casinos to launder illegal drug money which was then invested in Vancouver-area real estate.
Eby launched an investigation after the government’s gaming enforcement branch showed surveillance video of gamblers walked into casinos with millions of dollars in $20 bills in suitcases and hockey bags.
A study showed a Vancouver-area casino brought in $13.5 million in $20 bills over a one month period in 2015.
German’s report says laundering activity has slowed down since the high-point in 2015, but prevention measures need to be enforced so the problem does not continue.
Eby says the province has begun to implement the 48 recommendations made in the report to end the flow of laundered cash into B.C.’s casinos.
Among those is to implement a standalone regulator with police playing a role in that body, casinos stop accepting money without a confirmed source and have tougher cash limits.
With files from The Canadian Press