Commissioner Austin Cullen, back centre, listens to introductions before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. A former British Columbia gaming policy official says the concerns about increasing amounts of suspicious cash and its possible links to money laundering at casinos started rising as the province was preparing to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Commissioner Austin Cullen, back centre, listens to introductions before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. A former British Columbia gaming policy official says the concerns about increasing amounts of suspicious cash and its possible links to money laundering at casinos started rising as the province was preparing to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Inquiry hears money laundering concerns at B.C. casinos rose as 2010 Olympics neared

Larry Vander Graaf told the public inquiry into money laundering there was an increase in suspected illegal money

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 lone-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.

The Canadian Press

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