B.C. lottery president says cash limits at casinos no panacea to fight illegal money

·1 min read

VANCOUVER — The president of the British Columbia Lottery Corp. says restricting large cash buy-ins at casinos was not a panacea to fight money laundering despite government concerns and calls for tighter controls dating back to 2015.

Jim Lightbody, who is continuing his second day of testimony today at a public inquiry into money laundering, says the former Liberal government told the Crown corporation to consider cash controls at casinos as part of its overall approach to combat money laundering.

But Lightbody says the government, including former finance minister Mike de Jong, supported the lottery corporation's anti-money laundering regime that was based on a risk-based approach, which included monitoring and banning some gamblers.

Lightbody testified the lottery corporation stepped up requirements for some players to disclose the source of their cash after receiving a 2015 police report that said organized criminals were using casinos for money laundering, but it wasn't until 2018 when a strict ban on cash buy-ins of $10,000 or more was implemented.

The inquiry has heard testimony that before 2015, people arrived at B.C. casinos with bags containing hundreds of thousands of dollars in $20 bills.

The province appointed B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen in 2019 to lead the public inquiry into money laundering after three reports outlined how hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash affected the real estate, luxury vehicle and gaming sectors.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 29, 2021.

The Canadian Press