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[溫哥華本地新聞] China's hunt for corrupt officials could affect BCLC 'whale' gambler revenue

China's hunt for corrupt officials could affect BCLC 'whale' gambler revenue

B.C. Lottery Corp. casinos rely heavily on large transactions from Asian “whale” gamblers, but revenue connected to this high-roller group could be affected by factors including China’s hunt for alleged financial fugitives, documents obtained by Postmedia News show.
Observations about BCLC’s reliance on so-called “whale” gamblers from China and Macau, and the risks associated to the revenue that VIP gamblers are pouring into B.C. government coffers, are revealed in a slide presentation prepared by BCLC’s anti-money-laundering director, Ross Alderson.
The slides, disclosed to Postmedia in a freedom of information request, were presented in November 2016 by Alderson and BCLC, to Vancouver’s association of certified fraud examiners. BCLC said it could not provide a transcript of Alderson’s remarks during the presentation.
“The presentation was intended to provide an overview of BCLC’s anti-money laundering and investigative programs, while also highlighting how BCLC is working to mitigate unique challenges in B.C.,” a BCLC spokeswoman said.
Information in Alderson’s prepared slides provides background context about a network of ultra-wealthy VIP bettors from China. According to allegations in government documents obtained by Postmedia and RCMP’s E-Pirate investigation, these VIPs were used by an organized crime group with ties to mainland China to buy chips in B.C. casinos with cash suspected to be from drug traffickers.
Alderson’s presentation slides show that of the top 100 BCLC high-rollers, in the period of January to September 2016, 97 were Asian. These top 100 high-stakes gamblers accounted for 54 per cent of all large transactions in BCLC casinos, the documents show.
A breakdown of these top 100 gamblers’ occupations is provided. The top declared occupation was real estate, followed by service, “other,” import/export, housewife and student.
These gamblers accounted for a major portion of BCLC revenue. But Alderson’s presentation suggests these VIPs are a volatile source of income, and they could be affected by political and economic forces in China.
In a slide titled “Recent impact on Asian ‘whales,’ ” the listed impacts include “alleged Chinese police operations in B.C.” and an increase in Interpol warrants for alleged corruption and bribery involving Chinese officials. Other factors listed include the volatility of China’s stock market, and a decrease in gambling revenue in Macau as China cracks down on the flight of capital.
A slide presented by B.C. Lottery Corp. anti-money laundering director, Ross Alderson describes the recent impacts of so-called Asian ‘whales.’PNG
Another factor is the proposed Canada and China repatriation treaty, in which China hopes to seize and get back some portion of Canadian assets that China alleges have been purchased by fugitives with ill-gotten gains.
Another factor, Alderson’s presentation notes, is China’s “Operation Fox Hunt.” It is not clear what Alderson told his audience about this. But the operation refers to one of China’s publicized lists of alleged corrupt officials believed to have absconded to Canada with state assets.
Documents obtained by Postmedia in a previous freedom of information disclosure show that B.C.’s gaming policy enforcement branch has conducted an audit to determine if any of the top 100 alleged financial fugitives named by China “are gambling or have gambled in B.C. gaming facilities.”
The audit shows a clipping of eight suspects from China’s so-called “SkyNet List.”
However, several pages of findings and a conclusion on whether these suspects have gambled in B.C. casinos are completely redacted. A spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s ministry said an investigation is continuing, and results of the audit cannot be released.
As for alleged police operations by China in B.C., and what affect this could have on VIP gamblers, no further information is disclosed in Alderson’s presentation. One known case of Chinese agents entering Canada in pursuit of a financial fugitive was that of Lai Changxing, the alleged mastermind of a billion-dollar smuggling operation in China. Lai lived in Richmond for a number of years, and was associated with gangsters, loan sharks, and legal and illegal casino activity, according to reports. Lai was returned to Beijing in 2011, after being visited by agents from China and legally fighting his repatriation through Canada’s immigration and refugee system.
Alderson’s slides point to challenges facing BCLC, including the reliance on whale gamblers.
Competition from illegal casinos in B.C., and probing both the “source of funds” and the “source of wealth” of BCLC gamblers are challenges for BCLC, presentation notes say. The presentation also notes that “politics” and the sharing of information among various agencies are challenges for BCLC.
While it isn’t clear what Alderson told his audience about the “politics” of gambling in B.C., his slides suggest that “revenue” generation and “reputation” risk are key factors that BCLC is challenged to balance.
A slide presented by B.C. Lottery Corp. anti-money laundering director Ross Alderson shows the impact of casino gambling on BCLC’s net income.PNG
In one slide titled, “BCLC net income” Alderson shows that from 2013 to 2016 in B.C., BCLC casinos netted an average of $921 million, while lotteries brought in under $300 million on average. A beaming picture of then-premier Christy Clark is shown beside the casino revenue graphs.
Another slide about revenue shows a picture of Gordon Gekko, the famous character from the 1987 film Wall Street, who proclaimed “greed is good.”
And in “reputation” slides, Alderson shows a number of B.C. newspaper headlines from the past several years, such as this Vancouver Sun 2014 report: “Despite tougher rules, reports of possible money-laundering up in B.C. casinos.”
Alderson’s presentation also highlights connections between VIP gamblers that are responsible for a majority of large and suspicious transactions in B.C. casinos, and B.C.’s real estate industry. While many of the VIPs are involved in real estate, according to Alderson’s report, there has been a major disparity between the reporting of suspicious and large transactions in casinos versus B.C.’s real estate sector. From 2010 to 2013 there were 2,045 suspicious transactions filed in BCLC casinos. In the same time period B.C. realtors only reported 13 suspicious transactions. And there were 65,920 large cash transactions reported in B.C. casinos from 2010 to 2013. Only seven were reported in B.C. real estate transactions.

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