Last year, over $350 million in suspicious casino transactions were reported in Ontario. As a result, several Ontario casinos came under the spotlight for accepting multiple suspicious transactions despite all the red flags. According to the latest news, two former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers called on Ontario regulators to launch an in-depth investigation into the suspicious cash transaction reports.
Suspicious Casino Transactions are on the Rise in Ontario
Although Ontario has taken various measures to clamp down on money laundering, suspicious transactions continue flowing through casinos. Cal Chrustie, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigator, said that large transactions usually use illegally obtained funds. He added that determining whether or not the money is gained from criminal activity is hard without conducting a thorough investigation.
From the beginning of 2022, all Ontario casinos must maintain logs of anyone depositing over $3,000 in a single transaction, ascertain the source of funds, and watch for red flags. If there are signs of money laundering, casinos must reject the transaction. But despite the rules, suspicious cash transactions significantly increased compared to pre-pandemic times.
According to reports provided through a freedom of information request, $334 million in suspicious cash transactions were reported in Ontario casinos in 2019. By 2022, this amount had increased to $372 million.
British Columbia authorities also introduced similar rules to fight against money laundering practices in casinos. According to figures revealed by the B.C. government, $153 million in suspicious cash transactions were reported in 2015. By 2022, there were just $3 million in suspicious transactions.
Authorities Should Keep in Mind That Suspicious Cash Transactions Reports are not Completely Accurate
In 2018, the Parq Casino in Vancouver refused to accept Toronto rapper Drake’s deposit. The artist accused the gambling establishment of racially profiling him. The casino, on the other hand, rejected Drake’s claims, explaining that it could not take the cash due to the new anti-money laundering rules.
Last week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford told reporters that the province’s anti-money laundering system is effective and added that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) would inform the Ontario Provincial Province (OPP) if there is something suspicious, and an investigation would be launched.
As SuperCasinoSites reported earlier this month, the OPP launched an investigation into suspicious casino transactions totaling over $4 million in buy-ins and withdrawals over several years. The man who allegedly washed dirty money using several Ontario casinos is Branavan Kanapathipillai.
In July 2022, Kanapathipillai made ten transactions totaling $824,700 at Pickering Casino, and the casino failed to ascertain the source of funds. In November last year, Kanapathipillai attempted to buy in with nearly $100,000 of cash at Niagara’s Fallsview Casino, but the police seized the money due to its unclear origin.
Kanapathipillai’s lawyer told CTV News Toronto that his client has been assisting the police with their investigation. He added that Kanapathipillai expects to receive his legally obtained money one day.
Peter German, a former RCMP deputy commissioner, explained that authorities should not make conclusions based on the raw figures from Ontario. He said that regulators have to carefully look at the numbers and keep in mind that there could be over-reporting and under-reporting. Chrustie added that potential money laundering is not just a financial crime because illegally obtained funds often empower criminals and drug dealers.