Cal Chrustie and Peter German have asked for a comprehensive investigation into the ongoing problem represented by illicit funds and suspicious casino transactions in Ontario in the past few years.
Suspicious Transaction Amounts Went Up by $1M a Day
Between 2019 and 2022, Ontario’s casinos recorded a massive rise in the size of flagged transactions, marking a rise of more than one million per day.
In 2019, the figure had reached CAD$334 million ($248 million), according to data from records obtained via a freedom of information request. By 2022, the same figure recorded an increase of $38 million.
During the same year, state regulators introduced a new set of regulations requiring casino operators to keep detailed logs of players wagering over $3,000 in a single transaction. They were also prompted to ask for the source of the respective funds and keep a close eye on any signs of money laundering.
According to former Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer Cal Chrustie, in many of these instances where large sums of money are involved, their source is “illicit”.
The investigator who specialized in complex money laundering and transnational crime cases further explained that while the numbers were “significant”, additional research of the transactions was necessary to issue a clear conclusion.
Chrustie also spoke about the potential money laundering activities that should be regarded as much more than regular financial crime since the illicit gains could fuel criminals like drug traffickers and other agencies that could threaten the security of the country.
The ex-RCMP officer added that relying on police authorities to assess reports of suspicious transactions would not suffice, given their overwhelming number.
Besides the fraudulent casino funds problem, there is also a high risk of international fraudsters attempting to cheat the legal gambling market in Ontario. However, GeoComply reassured the public that licensed operators in Ontario continue to be the safest to play with, with special emphasis on customers being the highest protected category.
The “Dirty Money” Report on British Columbia’s Casinos
Ex-RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German compiled the “Dirty Money” report on British Columbia casinos.
The report emphasized a number of recommendations that, when put into practice, were the main reason why the volume of suspicious transactions went down abruptly.
While German explained that it was not possible to draw any clear conclusions relying on Ontario’s raw figures, a lot of insight could be gained by looking at the funds in perspective and understanding the way they were generated.
German also mentioned the matters of underreporting and overreporting, explaining the need for the regulator to get involved in assessing the quality of these transactions.
British Columbia regulators introduced a similar set of rules similar to the ones Ontario is now using to considerably reduce the number of suspicious transactions. The measures were implemented after it was revealed the funds were used in a transnational money laundering effort.
While the regulator had failed to comply with the reporting requirements concerning suspicious cash transactions in the past, the new rules generated excellent results, as presented by B.C. government figures.
Namely, in 2015, B.C. casinos reported $153 million in suspicious transactions. The figure continued to drop on a yearly basis, reaching $3 million in 2022. In the meanwhile, Ontario’s online gambling industry announced excellent growth during its first year of existence.