Loto-Quebec Spends Nearly Double On Legal Fees Rather Than Pay FINTRAC Fine

Written By Jose Colorado on June 1, 2022 - Last Updated on June 29, 2022
Collage of yellow and black hazard signs that read, 'fine'

Loto-Quebec defended itself to the tune of $260,000, challenging a legal court case dating back to 2011.

New details have emerged — over a decade later — surrounding a fine imposed on the operator by Canada’s money-laundering watchdog team.

The infractions – centred around suspicious money transactions — were made at Casino de Montreal – one of Loto-Quebec’s establishments.

In the end, the authorities fined Loto-Quebec $147,000.

FINTRAC finds 3 infractions made at Montreal Casino

Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) is Canada’s money-laundering watchdog. In 2011, the federal body found three violations made at Casino de Montreal between July 28-Aug. 31.

The Government of Canada’s official website lists them as the following:

  • Violation #1 – Failure to institute and document the prescribed review
  • Violation #2 – Failure to report suspicious transactions
  • Violation #3 – Failure to report casino disbursements of $10,000 or more with the prescribed information

Among the reasons for the violations, FINTRAC reported that Loto-Quebec failed to review the effectiveness of its compliance program.

The provincial lottery overlooked submitting a suspicious transaction report (meant to dissuade association with money laundering or terrorist activity).

The operator omitted specific details of a client’s occupation in casino disbursement reports.

Loto-Quebec’s legal fees surpass initial fine amount

Despite this, Loto-Quebec refused to pay FINTRAC’s fines and tying up the case in court for years.

And, when all was said and done, it appears Loto-Quebec spent more on legal fees ($260,000) than the actual fine itself ($147,000).

Due to confidentiality reasons, much of the proceedings remained a mystery.

However, in 2020, FINTRAC publicly revealed its fine against the operator at $147,000. But, Loto-Quebec only just released the legal fees associated with the case. That’s likely because the Office of Investigation made a formal request regarding its costs in 2020.

The Government of Canada’s website refers to the situation as a “case closed.”

Money laundering returns to Canada gambling spotlight

Despite the case originating over a decade ago, the story is timelier than ever.

The biggest Canada money-laundering case ever recently rocked the casino industry. Jaw-dropping details centre around an underground bank washing more than $250 million annually through BC’s casinos. The worst part, however, is authorities botched the case in 2018.

Then there’s the Ontario live odds market. The sector is off to a roaring start, with more money flowing in than ever. But that can also be a cause for concern. More money flowing through could mean more opportunities for money laundering activities and insidious behaviour.

Importantly, Casino de Montreal is the only gambling establishment in the country to have been fined by FINTRAC in the last three years. Regardless, it’s almost certain watchdogs will be stricter than ever moving forward to ensure Canadian casinos stick to the book.

Casino de Montreal continues turbulent year

It’s been quite an eventful year for Casino de Montreal thus far. The establishment has been in the headlines ever since the New Year began. Unfortunately, much of that publicity has been less than favourable.

In March, croupiers at the casino staged their union’s first pressure tactics, setting the table for a potential strike. That came to fruition on May 22 when workers took to the picket line. The unlimited general strike stems from salary cutbacks and poor working conditions.

And there were two additional work stoppages in May due to stalled negotiations.

As the largest retail Canada casino, sorting the establishment’s public image is a priority. Anything the business does will be magnified and scrutinized due to its sheer size and economic impact.

Photo by Gustavo Frazao
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