Money Launderers Switch Tactics, Using Stealth ‘Mules’ Against VIP Players
Posted on: Dec 10, 2019, 6:25 a.m.
Last update on: December 11, 2019, 8:36 a.m.
Casino money launderers have changed their ways in Canada, where the media spotlight on British Columbia dirty money scandal forced criminals to adopt new strategies.
This is according to the Federal Center for Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis of Canada, aka Fintrac, which this week alerted casino operators to pay special attention, not to high-stakes players, but to high-stakes players. small players who finance their game through bank drafts.
The plastic bags filled with banknotes that were exchanged for tokens to fund VIP players have been ditched in favor of something quite less visible – low-fi ‘money mules’ washing up money. money, consciously or not, for the benefit of criminal enterprises.
In an “operational alert” published this week, Fintrac asks casinos to pay particular attention to customers who regularly use overdue drafts to purchase tokens or fund a gaming account.
These players may also be accompanied to a casino by someone subject to a gambling ban. Or they may live in a jurisdiction with “currency control restrictions”, such as China.
Fintrac said the mules generally listed their occupations as “student,” “housewife” or “unemployed,” and their bank accounts showed “back-and-forth activity, with a high volume of cash deposits coming from. various unknown sources, which were then used. to purchase bank drafts payable to third parties or to casinos.
Bank drafts are preferred because of their liquidity and “near anonymity”, the agency said.
British Columbians are still reeling from the revelation that in 2016 the province had become a “laundromat for organized crime,” according to an independent report commissioned by Attorney General David Eby and released in May. 2019.
Security footage leaked at casinos in the Vancouver area showed images of banknotes being transported to casinos in plastic bags. Much of the money was provided by underground banks that intended to launder money from the sale of drugs shipped to Canada from South America and fentanyl factories in China’s Guangdong province.
In the grip of the spending habits of Chinese big players, casinos were willing to turn a blind eye to anti-money laundering controls and adopted a culture of accepting large volumes of money without inquiring about the source.
The province has launched a public survey in money laundering following the report’s release, which suggested billions were being washed away each year by its casino industry and housing market. This was pushing up house prices and contributing to the opioid crisis.
Criminals may adapt, but so do authorities. Fintrac’s alert is based on the latest findings from Project ATHENA, which initially began as an investigation in British Columbia into money laundering at casinos in the Lower Mainland.
The ATHENA project has since expanded to a national goal and broadened its scope to include real estate, luxury vehicles and high-value goods.