Fork it over.
Those are the words of the British Columbian government as the province will seize more than $1million from the alleged money launderer, Caixuan Qin.
And it’s laying claim to casino chips, gift cards, personal property and jewelry, too.
Police uncovered the materials during a 2015 raid.
In 2018, Qin and her late husband, Jian Jun Zhu, were accused of helping to run an underground bank in Richmond, B.C.
It is believed the pair’s crooked currency exchange dubbed Silver International, laundered upwards of $220 million per year.
But when the federal case collapsed (stayed) in Nov. 2018, prosecutors quickly pivoted.
To adjust, they launched a case through the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Office.
That decision is considered a “consent order” was signed by both parties in the forfeiture agreement.
The B.C. Supreme Court filed it on Nov.30.
Most significant money laundering case in B.C. history
In Oct. 2015, records show police seized more than $2million in cash, cocaine, weapons, credit card skimmers and more.
That raid occurred at Silver International’s office, Qin’s home, and the office of Style Travel – another business owned by Qin and Zhu.
Before that, federal prosecutors had been hard at work building a case against Silver.
The company, they argued, acted as a front for an underground bank to launder illegal money – mainly through the drug trade.
Essentially, criminals could deposit their money and receive payouts via a Chinese bank account.
Prosecutors alleged that criminals funnelled much of the dirty money through high rollers on gambling junkets from China.
They’d arrive with sports duffle bags stuffed with cash.
The casino would then convert the cash into chips – making it “clean currency” for the criminals.
Botched investigation collapses federal case
Police claim the operation laundered up to $220 million per year.
But the international anti-money laundering organization Financial Action Task Force (FATF) says the actual total is likely upwards of $1 billion.
Considering that, the $1.14 million settlement seems like a drop in the bucket.
But it’s a ‘take what you can get’ situation after federal prosecutors botched the evidence closure process in Nov. 2018.
That snafu saw accidental disclosure of the name and information of a critical government informant.
A federal judge determined continuing the case would place that individual at a “high risk of death.”
The case was then “stayed” – meaning guilt or innocence is still undetermined. And it did not proceed further.
“It is a disturbing signal that a prosecution of this magnitude collapses shortly before going to trial,” said David Eby, B.C.’s Attorney General, when learning of the collapse.
Money linked to cartel, terrorism
The story gets darker, though. Much darker.
In September 2020, Qin’s husband was murdered in a hailstorm of bullets while dining with Paul King Jin at a Richmond restaurant.
Jin, another alleged launderer, survived.
Since then, police charged 23-year-old Richard Charles Feed with first-degree murder alongside five additional charges.
But police believe others could be involved as the investigation remains ongoing.
One reason for that suspicion is the dark underworld prosecutors believe Zhu and Qin were involved in.
Allegedly, their business had ties to the drug trade in South America and fentanyl factories in China’s Guangdong province.
Links to Middle Eastern organized crime groups with ties to terrorism also exist.
Whistleblowing needed more than ever
Accusations accuse multiple locations of turning a blind eye for profits.
Matters got so bad that former director of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) – Ross Alderson – came forward earlier this year.
He helped blow the top off a series of illegal cash rings in the province by leaking info to the media.
Alderson was disturbed by a feeling of “indifference” to casino money laundering at the top levels of the province.
Baby steps have been taken in the right direction, though.
A series of reports publicly detail the money-laundering issue in the province.
The Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering – established in 2019 to combat the issue – curated the reports.
Ontario gaming industry also under scrutiny
Although nowhere near the same severity level, Ontario’s gaming industry also came under fire earlier this year.
A federal audit launched into the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) found numerous infractions.
Time will tell how this recent ordeal will impact the gaming industry’s relationship with its local B.C. community.
But surely operators must be conscious of its image moving forward. Repairing the trust is the key then as operators head into 2022.