British Columbia has been looking into the amount of money being laundered through its casinos since 2015, in order to put new regulations in place to help casinos remain in compliance with the law. However, critics of the probe have noted that while the investigation is supposed to be independent, two of the members of the probe have ties to gambling in the province, and one of them has ties to the casino that was the focus of the investigation. The man at the center of the complaints, Peter German has denied there is a conflict of interest in the probe.
The Issues with British Columbia Casinos
The probe began with an audit, which noted that one casino, River Rock Casino owned by Great Canadian, declared that $13.5 million dollars in $20 bills was taken in by the casino in the VIP gaming room. Several Canadians have been arrested, as well as some Chinese nationals who were arrested at the Vancouver airport. Some of the arrested Chinese nationals were carrying millions of dollars in cash, which is estimated to be from organized crime. In the past, Chinese gangs within organized crime have been linked to money laundering through the casinos in British Columbia. Casinos are an ideal front for o because it is customary for casinos to having large amount of cash in small bills, which is largely untraceable.
River Rock Casino, German and Soo
Peter German has been a board member of the Oval Corporation Board, which operates a sports complex in the area along with Walter Soo. Soo is the architect of the River Rock Casino’s VIP gaming rooms and is the executive vice president of player and gaming development. He was instrumental in bringing wealthy gamers from China to gamble at the casino. Soo was responsible for establishing the private, high limit gaming rooms, most of which specialized in poker. He began wooing high dollar clients by giving them free junkets to the casino, luxury hotel rooms with free food, drink, and entertainment as well as a private place to gamble. These high dollar clients have been responsible for delivering hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue to the government in British Columbia.
The Credibility Gap
In an interview, German was asked why he did not disclose his relationship with Walter Soo. However, German is stating that he and Soo did not discuss the problems at River Rocks, nor did he interview Soo for the ongoing report. German did interview Soo’s bosses at Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and said he did not feel it necessary to interview Soo about the high-limit gaming rooms and the problem with the excessive amounts of money running through the River Rocks Casino.
However, many people, including some officials with casino companies, feel the report on the irregularities at River Rocks needed to be objective. Critics are not sure that German, with his ties to Soo, could be objective about the casino Soo worked for. In addition, many people in and outside the casino industry felt the report praised officials at Great Canadian, who in fact allowed millions of dollars to be laundered through the casino.
But because of Soo’s direct role in the money laundering scandal at River Rocks, he has been the recipient of much criticism as many people believe he should have been the first person interviewed.
It remains to be seen whether or not the report will be the end of the inquiry into the money laundering issues at River Rock. Walter Soo, who has not been charged, is still being investigated for his role in the problems at the casino.
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