BEHIND THE SCENES: Will RCMP Heed FBI and Look into Possible Money Laundering in Ontario Casinos?

Casinos across Canada, not just in B.C., are a natural fit for washing "dirty money," typically involving transnational crime figures that Canada and the U.S. may not be fully prepared to deal with. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

By John Devine & M. Samuel Anderson

The Awakening News has gained knowledge of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) taking some interest in investigating alleged money laundering in Ontario casinos, which, if found to be true, violates the Canadian version of the Magnitsky Act.

Notably, an FBI agent told us he had already notified the RCMP about such matters. While it’s not necessary to name the agent at this time, it’s interesting that it takes a foreign law enforcement agency, the FBI, to look into these matters in Ontario—where controversies and crimes of considerable magnitude do arise but little, if anything, is ever resolved.

In the U.S., the Magnitsky Act was passed into law in 2012 during the Obama Administration against certain Russian officials before the Act was expanded by the U.S. four years later to make it applicable to perpetrators from other countries. A Canadian version of the Magnitsky Act was enacted by parliament in 2017.

The two versions of the Act, which both represent the reaction of America and Canada to the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009, enables these governments to freeze the assets of offenders, sanction them for human rights abuses, and restrict their travel.

Magnitsky had dirt on Russian oligarchs and officials involved in a $230 million Russian tax fraud. Some 23 companies were thought to be linked to the fraud, which Magnitsky was investigating before the Russian Federation imprisoned him. The federation is suspected of sending guards to beat him to death in prison.

The dirty money from the fraud was laundered, “including into a real  estate firm that was buying luxury Wall Street apartments in New York City,” Wikipedia noted.

The Awakening News understands that the FBI has informed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police regarding a tip that the FBI received regarding money laundering allegations in Ontario, possible involving Russian figures. Ironically, several years prior to the FBI reaching out to the RCMP to seek help in enforcing the Magnitsky Act,the RCMP informed Awakening News through written correspondence that casinos “are not their jurisdiction” concerning other matters that our editors contacted them about in recent years, including a movie-pirating scheme at an Ontario casino.

As of this writing on Dec. 13th, 2018, we’re still waiting for a reply from the FBI about whether the RCMP will carry out an Ontario money-laundering probe on the basis of the Magnitsky Act. (Ironic footnote: Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reporter Erica Johnson, who produces the show “Go Public,” took a position similar to that of the RCMP’s and informed the Awakening News via email that casinos are not part of her news jurisdiction, when answering our queries about alleged human rights abuses at Casino Rama).

PARALLELS WITH BRITISH COLUMBIA PROBE?

All things considered, there is little reason for high expectations for justice in Canada. This is especially notable when considering what’s been happening in British Columbia (B.C.)

As has been widely reported, British Columbia Attorney General David Eby, to his credit, had started looking into alleged money laundering at River Rock Casino and other provincial gambling houses, while also looking into an episode of alleged sexual misconduct at River Rock.

But while the sexual-misconduct probe apparently is continuing (see this Awakening News posting about that issue), the money laundering probe has hit the shoals like the Titanic striking the proverbial iceberg.

Even Canada’s mainstream media—which rarely gets highly assertive toward the government about its secrecy and glacially slow investigations—seems strangely dumbfounded about the sudden halt on the money-laundering probe that was being carried out with special assistance by former RCMP officer-turned-consultant Dr. Peter German, as Eby’s media spokesman, Liam Butler, told the Awakening News by phone Dec. 6th.

MEDIA MEETS WALL OF SILENCE (Welcome to the club)

The Vancouver Sun on Nov. 30th, 2018 ran into Canada’s “wall of silence,” which Awakening News has been warning about for years. On Nov. 30th, 2018, the newspaper argued:

“Federal prosecutors and the RCMP should provide at least some details on why charges were stayed in B.C.’s biggest money laundering case, a criminology expert said.

 “RCMP secrecy is just astonishing to my mind.I understand the need to protect the integrity of these investigations . . .  but you don’t go into a hole in the ground and say, ‘Sorry, I am not going to talk to you at all’,” said Simon Fraser University criminology professor Rob Gordon.

Gordon also noted there was little doubt the federal prosecutor and RCMP know why charges have been stayed,despite a pledge by the RCMP to launch an internal full-scale review “to understand its activities which contributed to this stay.”

When information is completely shutdown then questions get raised, said Gordon [who] acknowledged there are good reasons to hold some information back but there should be a way to provide some details without having a negative effect on any continuing investigation.

That lurch into secrecy, though completely predictable, still is highly regrettable. The investigation was getting close, perhaps too close for comfort for those who stood to lose the most.  When Asian or Russian oligarchs or other shadowy figures may be involved, let’s just say things have a way of getting very quiet very suddenly. Threats can be made—serious threats.

According to the Sun, a federal organized crime unit had been investigating phone calls made from inside a Burnaby casino,apparently to the number of one Paul King Jin—the primary suspect in a transnational network accused of using VIP gamblers from Macau to buy chips in B.C. casinos, in order to launder hundreds of millions in cash from drug-dealing.

Jin was also active at Burnaby’s Grand Villa Casino and New Westminster’s Starlight Casino. The Sun added that new information it had obtained shows that “in August 2015, near the start of the RCMP’s so-called E-Pirate investigation, investigators met to discuss Jin’s connections to B.C. casinos.”

From what the Awakening News understands, money laundering has made a significant impact on the real estate bubble in British Columbia (because sudden, large cash infusions laundered into real estate bid prices up in the market), making it more and more difficult for the little people to obtain, or keep, a roof over their head. Logically, we wonder if possible money laundering in Ontario casinos has impacted Ontario’s recent real estate bubble.

What’s needed the most as we ask such questions is a response from the FBI indicating if there is  evidence of money laundering in Ontario casinos or anywhere else in the province, for that matter.  The provincial government, with its casino-expansion plans going full steam, has put its chips into more gambling enterprises (e.g.,Woodbine and Pickering around Toronto), thus providing vast incentives for money launderers (and their financial “cousins,” the loan sharks).

Of course, what is a casino? It’s a “funnel” through which multi-millions of dollars a day flow nonstop, thereby enriching a small segment of society and putting many more at risk of great personal loss. And we don’t know the precise origins of all the gambling money, regardless of whether it’s coming from high-rollers who have cash to burn, or from large numbers of individuals barely making ends meet who don’t always spend a great deal gambling personally, but whose collective monetary impact is still great. Casinos may not be launderers themselves, but they certainly are a vast money-collection enterprise that provide some jobs and some escapist entertainment on the one hand, but social stress and hardship on the other—often extreme hardship.

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE?

Hopefully the FBI will disclose to Awakening News what has been discovered in their investigations, including the RCMP’s position.

However, given our experiences with the powers-that-be in Canada, we’re to be forgiven if we say that we don’t expect much more to happen in the B.C.money laundering probe and we’re quite skeptical as well about any such probe seriously happening in Ontario—especially when the conventional media acts as if money laundering through casinos could only happen in B.C.  We sense that Canada will once again suppress this matter until its largely forgotten, so future generations can deal with it.That’s already the modus operandi here, anyway. We call it Canada’s “time machine,” or what others may call a “memory hole.”

And, man, is it deep.