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BCLC Regulator Resigns Amidst Controversy

Johnnie Rivera | 12 July 2019

BCLC Official Resigns Under Cloud Robert Kroeker, Vice-President for Corporate Compliance at the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), has resigned. This happened after British Columbia’s gambling regulator had pledged to look into allegations that Kroeker had ordered his staff to ease up on their measures regarding anti-money-laundering, and let dirty money flow in to their casinos.

In early July, the BCLC posted a short statement announcing Kroeker’s departure, saying only that Kroeker has left BCLC, but not stating any reasons for his resignation. Kroeker himself could not be reached for comment.

A lawyer by trade, Kroeker was one of B.C. government’s top anti-money-laundering officials and held various important positions over the years involving significant oversight of the region’s economy.

He had also authored a government study (2011), which examined money laundering at casinos. The report was widely criticised by the NDP government, who claimed it barely touched on the crime of money laundering and seemed still in fact to welcome huge cash transactions at casinos, the issue that was at the root of the original concerns.

Somebody lodged a complaint against Kroeker earlier this year, declaring Kroeker had instructed his team to relax the regulations regarding big sums of cash and slow down on targeting buy-ins as suspicious. The complaint continues, acknowledging that pressure may have been applied to management to allow the movement of dirty money into the casino.

Enquiry On The Cards

A public enquiry into these allegations will take place in autumn. Testimony will be given by a number of whistle-blowers, who are alleging that the BCLC was turning a blind eye to the matter of dirty money, because of the substantial tax revenue the gambling sector was contributing.

One, a former policeman and investigator for the lottery corporation, said he was looking forward to telling his story. He said he had watched people walk in to the casino with bags stuffed full of cash, and nothing had been done to stop them.

New Measures In Place

Massive concerns were raised at the start of 2018 about casinos being used to launder criminals’ dirty money, and henceforth new anti-money-laundering laws were put into place. Under the new rules, any amounts of cash greater than CAD$10 000 would have to be corroborated to ensure their sources were legitimate.

This has been very successful in lowering the rate of suspicious transactions. However, casino profits have taken quite a hit. Government tax revenues have obviously also felt the pinch, due to these more stringent measures.

In the summer of 2015, allegations were made that significant amounts of drug money were gushing through – primarily – the Richmond Casino, by a Chinese drug cartel, via Chinese VIP high rollers. This has been halted, but has also come with a price.