A major investigation into illegal gambling and money laundering has “pretty much concluded,” and B.C.’s organized crime cops are now focused on putting the case together for Crown counsel to decide on charges.
That is the latest from Sgt. Lindsey Houghton of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-B.C.), which announced on June 13, 2017 that nine people had been arrested in a probe with the Joint Illegal Gaming Investigation Team.
CFSEU revealed more than a year ago that it had busted an organized crime network, with connections to mainland China, that was involved in illegal gambling houses and money laundering. “A search of six residences resulted in the seizure of large amounts of cash and bank drafts, drug paraphernalia, suitcases, cell phones, computers and other related material,” said the news release. “Also seized were a number of luxury vehicles, including one with a sophisticated hidden compartment.”
Houghton said the investigation continued for much of the last 12 months and became “even larger, more complex.” Nobody has been charged yet, neither have there been any additional arrests.
“There are hundreds of thousands of documents and tasks that require translation and disclosing and vetting,” Houghton told theBreaker. “The translation side of things, because we’re dealing with Chinese language, has slowed things down significantly.”
Houghton said more than a dozen officers are working full-time on the file. He said disclosure requirements at the outset of a case have become more stringent. This one involves both provincial and federal Crown prosecutors, various agencies and witnesses, some of whom may not be in the country, he said. It could take Crown counsel more than six months to review the thick files and lay charges.
“[CFSEU detectives are] starting to put together disclosure packages that, as they continue to work, go out our door and into the door of Crown,” he said.
Asked if this investigation is related to the farmland mansion on 8880 Sidaway in Richmond that was the site of an illegal casino and subject to civil forfeiture, Houghton said there was “no tangible nexus to this investigation.”
“While there may have been connections to some of the individuals, it formed no part of our investigation,” he said. “It’s a Richmond [RCMP] file, it’s not forming part of this much larger investigation from the announcement last year.”
theBreaker reported May 31 that a judge allowed Wen Feng to sell the eight-bedroom, eight-bathroom mansion. It was transferred May 11 to a numbered company. The civil forfeiture case against Wen is ongoing.
The June 13, 2017 announcement came amid uncertainty about who would govern B.C. after the provincial election ended without a clear winner. The Green-supported NDP minority eventually defeated the BC Liberals on a no-confidence vote on June 29, paving the way for John Horgan to become premier.
In September, Attorney General David Eby released a report on casino money laundering that the BC Liberal government had suppressed. He also hired anti-money laundering expert Peter German to review Metro Vancouver casinos. German’s report, delivered at the end of March, remains unpublished. German is also reviewing the role money laundering plays in the Metro Vancouver real estate industry.
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