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B.C. may look into money laundering link amid gaming inspector corruption probe

Last Updated Aug 27, 2019 at 7:34 pm PDT

FILE: The PNE and Hastings Racecourse in East Vancouver are seen from the air in the summer of 2019. (Source: Riley Phillips/NEWS 1130)

This month's arrests of seven foreign workers at Hastings Racecourse has prompted fresh concerns about money laundering

The suspension of a government inspector has BC's Attorney General asking: how widespread is the corruption?

The investigation into wrongdoing at the track is in the hands of the Canada Border Services Agency.

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — What if there’s more to it? That’s what B.C.’s Attorney General is asking about the investigation of an inspector at the heart of an immigration raid at Vancouver’s Hastings Racecourse.

This month’s round up of seven foreign workers –mainly from Mexico– has prompted new concerns about money laundering.

David Eby says he has to wait until the Canada Border Services Agency investigation wraps up to find out if there is corruption, and how widespread it might be.

“There’s an allegation that there was a provincial employee accepting a benefit to commit fraud. Anyone who has any information of concern in our gaming industry or in government otherwise should bring them forward,” he says.

Eby says all licences issued by the inspector who works for the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch will be reviewed, but the Attorney General wants to know how widespread the corruption might be. The inspector has been suspended with pay,

“Why this hadn’t been detected earlier? What protections are in place? Who else, if anybody else, may have been involved?” he asks.

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Eby says the enforcement branch may need to take a closer look, but only after the main investigation by the CBSA wraps up.

“It’s surprising to me that there’s such different results, depending on who’s in government and who’s looking at the issue. Perhaps, not that surprising to the public given what’s been uncovered about money laundering.”

Even so, Eby tells NEWS 1130 he has faith in Sam MacLeod, the Deputy Minister now in charge of policing B.C.’s gaming industry.

“His team is doing a good job. I have great confidence in the head of our Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch to get our regulator to where we need to be.”

No evidence of widespread corruption found in horse racing

Peter German, the former deputy commissioner of the RCMP and lawyer who wrote two reports on money laundering for Eby, found no evidence of widespread corruption in horse racing.

“We were concentrating on the systems in place for betting and the slot machines at Hastings. We were not made aware of any ethical breaches or anything like that,” he says. “What I understand this investigation involves are migrant workers and potential allegations of bribery.”

At this point, it’s not clear if more than one government employee is under investigation or how this might factor into the province’s upcoming inquiry on money laundering.

German says he is available to help out when the province’s upcoming inquiry on money laundering starts.

“I’m certainly prepared to assist in any way that I can. I really don’t know at this point what that might entail.”

In May, Austin Cullen was appointed to oversee the inquiry which could last up to two years.

The retired associate chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court is expected to focus on corruption in the real estate sector, but the horse racing industry could also go under the microscope.

German’s research shows more than $7 billion was laundered in this province last year.