Ontario casinos track down over C$372M in suspicious payments in 2022
Data released last week showed that in 2022, more than C$372 million in cash transactions in Ontario casinos were flagged as suspicious. The concerning report has some critics saying regulators need to address this issue immediately, or local casinos will be connected with dirty money on a large scale. Specifically, they asked for more rigorous background checks on the source of the money, based on the latest laws introduced in 2022.
According to CTV News Toronto, which made a freedom of information request, the numbers for 2019 were C$334 million and for 2020 were C$134 million due to pandemic closures. For 2021, suspicious transactions fell to $121, but since restrictions were lifted, the figures have risen again.
Large cash buy-ins alerted the authorities
The first red flag was when one person, Branavan Kanapathipillai, made over C$4 million in transactions over a period of time. Moreover, he made a large cash buy-in at Pickering Casino Resort in July 2022, which alarmed casino staff who notified authorities. An officer from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reported: "He made 10 transactions ranging from $50,000 to $100,000, totalling $824,700.
“The source of cash was unclear, and it was atypical for an individual to possess such a large amount of cash.” In addition, the report emhasizes that cash without a source shows that there is a high possibility of money laundering.
“But despite the red flags, the casino still accepted his cash, as did at least three other casinos since 2016.”
Mr. Kanapathipillai explained that he gambled with the money of a third mortgage, however he failed to appear in court to support his claim.
Money laundering will be tackled immediately
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), also conducted its own investigation, and a spokesperson stated: "We can confirm that this matter was the result of an investigation conducted by the OPP Investigation and Enforcement Bureau embedded within the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
“The presence of an embedded police bureau that specializes in money laundering and related investigations is unique to Ontario, compared to other jurisdictions. The IEB works closely with the OLG’s Anti-Money Laundering Team to ensure casino reporting is monitored and information about suspected money laundering is identified and investigated."
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