Lottery Corp.'s Anti-Money Laundering Chief Tells Inquiry About His Police Concerns

Lottery Corp.'s Anti-Money Laundering Chief Tells Inquiry About His Police Concerns
Commissioner Austin Cullen, back left, listens to introductions before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver, on Feb. 24, 2020. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)
The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER—A former police officer who heads the British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s anti−money laundering programs says he was concerned and surprised about the response from police agencies over his reports of illegal money in casinos.

Daryl Tottenham told B.C.’s inquiry into money laundering Tuesday he provided information to several law enforcement agencies about large amounts of suspicious cash circulating at casinos, but saw little reaction.

The lottery corporation sent information to police about volumes of suspicious cash at B.C.’s casinos, as well as details about suspected individuals and a group associated with the money, he said.

"It was very concerning to me," he said. "I was quite surprised we weren’t getting any response back from law enforcement about taking this any further."

Tottenham mentioned Fintrac, Canada’s national financial intelligence agency, B.C.’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, the RCMP and local law enforcement agencies that were approached by the lottery corporation.

"We kind of went down that road in terms of starting to, I’m going to say, shop out a project to law enforcement and trying to make a connection to get somebody from law enforcement to engage on a project or a target," he said. "It was going out to a number of agencies that have law enforcement capabilities."

The inquiry heard Tuesday that one casino patron cashed in a total of $900,000 in one day. The patron first bought $450,000 worth of casino chips with $20 bills and then purchased $450,000 worth of chips with bills ranging from $10 to $100 later that day, he said.

Tottenham, a 28−year veteran of the New Westminster Police Department, said he received no official reaction from police that any investigations into suspicious cash at casinos were underway.

Tottenham agreed with federal government lawyer Olivia French that knowledge of ongoing police investigations is a closely guarded secret, but as an experienced investigator he expected to see some indication of police activity.

"From my perspective, I wasn’t seeing any activity based on my years of running strike teams and doing those kinds of projects," he said. "I was seeing absolutely nothing in that regard."

Former RCMP officer Fred Pinnock testified last week that a B.C. government cabinet minister told him in 2009 that the province’s then gaming minister was aware of organized crime at casinos, but was more focused on the money being generated.

The B.C. government launched a public inquiry after reports detailed how illegal cash was helping fuel the province’s real estate, luxury vehicle and gambling sectors.

The province commissioned three reports that said hundreds of millions of dollars in dirty money flowed through those businesses.

By Dirk Meissner