The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the country’s federal anti-money laundering agency, released an operational alert warning casinos that criminals have begun to favour bank drafts in their efforts to clean dirty money.
Criminals have traditionally used cash to fund their gambling bankrolls in order to launder money, but have since pivoted to bank drafts as a result of increasing surveillance of large cash transactions by the Canadian government and media.
According to FINTRAC’s analysis of dubious casino transactions, bank drafts which offer quasi-anonymity and liquidity is rapidly becoming more popular than cash among money launderers. Casinos have been advised by FINTRAC to keep track of players who use bank drafts to pay for chips.
Money Launderers Targeting BC Area Casinos
British Columbia’s anti-money laundering efforts came on the heels of a number of independent reports that revealed that money laundering was an illicit billion dollar industry in the BC area. Casinos have been one of the primary means money launderers have utilised. FINTRAC estimates that the majority of dubious casino transaction was made by mules under the direction of a professional money launderer. The mules’ job is to launder proceeds gained from criminal activity—whether they are aware of it or not—through legal channels, such as casinos.
FINTRAC identified two kinds of mules whose jobs focused on laundering money through casinos. The first type generally reported their occupation as “student” or “unemployed” and their bank accounts received large cash deposits from a number of unidentified sources, which the mule immediately utilised for bank drafts to pay casinos or other third-parties.
The second kind generally wrote in “homemaker” as their occupation and their bank accounts contained a number of cash deposits of unidentified sources, wire transfers of dubious origin, and a number of casino transactions.
FINTRAC’s Guidelines for Casinos
FINTRAC released guidelines for casinos to identify money launderers. Casinos have been advised to keep track of: players who habitually employ bank drafts as a way of funding their gaming; players who are in seen in the company of individuals who are listed as banned from gaming venues; and players who reside in an area with strict currency-control rules and have no local ties to the BC area.
Local casinos have begun to implement FINTRAC’s guidelines. Following BC bank’s requirement of including personal information on bank drafts, casinos in the area now insist on a receipt from its players for buy-ins over $10,000 that attests to their source of income.