Ottawa Amends Money Laundering Provisions in Laws

The government of Canada is getting serious about its money laundering laws and finding ways to rid its banks and casinos of dangers.

At the end of June, changes to the Criminal Code went into effect, along with the formal criminalisation of money laundering-related activities. These changes are being made following years of investigative reporting, formal government investigations, studies and research.

Money Laundering Laws Years in the Making

Most of the new moves made by the Canadian government regarding money laundering laws began in 2017 when a reporter wrote a series of news pieces after a long journalistic investigation of money laundering concerns at casinos in British Columbia. A few months later, the BC government issued a preliminary report confirming the allegations.

The government instructed the BC Lottery Corporation to implement new regulations. Casinos were also urged to take a closer look at their reporting of cash sources for large deposits, strengthen rules regarding those deposits, and increase the number of employees tasked with investigating money laundering suspicions and allegations.

By June of 2018, RCMP officer Peter German had prepared and released his report regarding BC casino money laundering allegations. Attorney General David Eby then began laying out his intentions for wide-ranging reforms aimed at casinos.

Eby subsequently authorised another independent report about money laundering. However, that one looked beyond casinos and into horse racing and real estate industries. German was in charge of the final report.

By February 2019, Postmedia released its investigation into money laundering. It revealed links to large money transfers via underground banks through cosmetics companies and the like.

This all spurred a promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in March 2019 of $70 million to fight money laundering over the next five years. He also vowed to tighten the Criminal Code to aid in prosecutions.

More reports over the past few months have confirmed money laundering problems. Consequently, BC and beyond have launched more inquiries.

Meanwhile, casinos mandated to crack down on money laundering and implement new rules have reported lower revenues. Their reduced profits are due to the additional expenses.

Ottawa Amends Laws

The government of Canada has officially taken action to follow Trudeau’s recommendations. As of the end of June, added to the Criminal Code is recklessness.

In addition, the amendments lower the threshold for proving the crime. No longer required is unequivocal evidence. The government’s statement from Finance Department spokesperson Greg Sommerville regarding the changes read, in part:

“This change modernises Canada’s money laundering criminal offenses to be consistent with key allies (e.g., UK and Australia) and provides an additional tool to disrupt and more effectively investigate and prosecute money laundering, particularly when dealing with sophisticated actors such as professional money launderers.

BC Implements Recommendations

The BC government showed that it has been complying with federal recommendations. These suggestions came from some of the independent reports provided to government officials over the past year.

One of the most noticeable changes is that gambling regulation officers are now present around the clock in larger Lower Mainland casinos. The general public will not see many of the updates, though. That’s because they are being done on the reporting end and by casino management.

Bigger Pictures

The BC government continues to work toward compliance, while the federal government makes changes. 19 recommendations implemented from 120 is low, though. There’s a reason why it is taking longer than many had hoped. According to Transparency International Canada Executive Director James Cohen:

“Canada has fallen so far behind for so many years, we’re playing catch-up.”

His organisation monitors money laundering laws and advocates for stricter ones. That group will not be the only one monitoring changes going forward, though. Postmedia announced that it created a searchable database that will track all progress on money laundering reports and recommendations. Federal and local governments will be monitored. Postmedia was the original investigatory group that uncovered the money laundering allegations and stories in 2017.

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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