B.C. casino ‘knowingly accepted’ millions from banned loan shark, audit alleges
Despite being labelled an “extreme risk” and banned from B.C. Lottery Corp. casinos, Paul King Jin, the alleged “No. 1” loan shark who was being tracked in the RCMP’s massive E-Pirate investigation, was able to continue funding VIP gamblers at River Rock casino unimpeded, according to allegations in documents obtained by Global News.
And three years after Lottery Corp. banned Jin, staff at Richmond’s River Rock Casino are alleged to have “knowingly accepted” about $4 million in suspicious cash from Jin in 2015 as E-Pirate continued, according to the documents.
Jin was first flagged for suspicious transactions as a River Rock high-roller in May 2012. On Nov. 5, 2012, Lottery Corp. banned him from all its casinos for five years for alleged loan sharking violations, a Lottery Corp. report filed with Fintrac says.
The Fintrac report says Lottery Corp. (BCLC) considered Jin “to present an extreme risk to BCLC and its gaming service providers.”
“Most of the patrons that Jin has supplied cash for are known VIP players with extensive gaming histories and considerable wealth with mostly Asian-based businesses,” the 2012 Fintrac report says.
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But Jin continued to deliver cash to his Chinese VIP clients at River Rock Casino “in areas visible by surveillance” according to allegations in Lottery Corp. and Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch documents.
In mid-2014, Lottery Corp. investigators reported that among lenders serving River Rock high-rollers, “Paul Jin is the #1 target and is currently banned but is extremely active and has numerous people working for him.”
From May to October 2014, Jin was involved in 28 incidents of delivering cash or casino chips to VIP gamblers at River Rock, for a total of $3.9 million, a Lottery Corp. investigative report says.
“It is possible that Paul Jin is also responsible for additional deliveries, but the use of subordinates makes it more difficult to confirm,” the report concludes.
Eventually, Jin’s activity caused so much concern that in late 2014, Lottery Corp. executives brought him to the attention of River Rock’s top managers.
Records obtained by Global News show that Lottery Corp. vice-president Brad Desmarais met several times with the top managers of Great Canadian Gaming, the operator of River Rock, including Walter Soo — the executive responsible for running River Rock’s private high-limit betting rooms — chief operating officer Terrance Doyle, and River Rock security and compliance director Robert Kroeker.
“Lengthy discussions on Paul Jin problems, cash deliveries, large amount of outstanding River Rock $5K chips,” a Lottery Corp. record of these meetings says. “The message also needs to be communicated (to Chinese VIPs) that they must stop using cash and or un-sourced chips from individuals such as Jin.”
But for unknown reasons, Jin’s transactions continued at River Rock from January through December 2015, according to a Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch audit. It alleges Jin provided $4.2 million in cash to VIPs even though casino staff knew it was wrong.
The “funds (were) facilitated in areas visible by surveillance,” a gaming enforcement branch audit says. And staff “knowingly accepted cash that they acknowledged was obtained from questionable sources.”
In total, the audit documents allege River Rock knowingly accepted $5.37 million from banned loan sharks during 2015 — with about $4 million coming from Jin.
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The RCMP’s E-Pirate probe of Jin and associated VIP gamblers active at River Rock started in spring 2015.
Global News has been unable to reach Jin directly or through his lawyer for comment on the allegations. No charges have been filed.
The Lottery Corp. — an arm of B.C.’s government that administers gambling for private casino companies and takes in over $1 billion per year in related revenues — was asked how Jin’s alleged activity funding VIPs could continue unchecked at River Rock.
The Lottery Corp. claimed that from 2014, it repeatedly reported concerns about suspected loan sharks to police and the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch.
“This includes a November 2014 meeting in which BCLC presented a proposal to the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit for a targeted investigation,” a response says.
Global News asked for an interview with Rod Baker, chief executive of Great Canadian Gaming, to ask whether any management, including Walter Soo, took responsibility for allegations that River Rock staff knowingly accepted cash transactions from Jin, despite the Lottery Corp. ban and repeated warnings.
Great Canadian would not provide an interview or statement from Baker.
A statement says the company “operates in strict compliance with all laws and regulations,” and “our staff has no discretion with respect to compliance with these regulations.”
“I’m unaware of any employees knowingly accepting cash transactions from banned customers during any period of time,” a statement from chief operating officer Terrance Doyle says.
Regarding questions about Jin’s alleged transactions at River Rock, the company referred to suspects investigated in E-Pirate and said: “Great Canadian initially detected this suspicious activity at River Rock in 2012, and our comprehensive and ongoing monitoring and reporting to BCLC was, in fact, crucial to identifying these individuals to the authorities.”
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.