British Columbia hires investigator to probe money laundering in casinos

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - British Columbia has hired an investigator to look into money laundering at casinos in the Western Canadian province, it said on Thursday, after a report cited suspicious cash transactions at a Vancouver-area casino popular with Chinese gamblers. Peter German, a former deputy commissioner with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada's national police force, has been tapped to conduct the independent review and complete it by March, Attorney General David Eby said in a statement. German will make recommendations on reform to the province's anti-money laundering laws, he added. "There are concerns about money laundering that have been growing for years – our government is taking action to deal with them quickly and thoroughly." A 2016 report released last week flagged suspicious cash transactions at the River Rock Casino Resort in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, including an incident involving C$13.5 million ($10.86 million) in C$20 bills. The report, commissioned by the previous Liberal government, highlighted problems with anti-money laundering rule compliance and cited the casino's culture of accepting large cash transactions without question. The report also said that the majority of high-risk cash transactions were from "high roller Asian VIP clients," many of whom were recent immigrants to Canada or Chinese nationals. (Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Richard Chang)