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Casino money-laundering whistleblower speaks today

Former BCLC investigator and AML boss Ross Alderson is now set to testify
Ross Alderson, former director of anti-money laundering (AML) investigations at the B.C. Lottery Corporation, spoke to CTV W5 in February 2019

A key whistleblower to alleged money laundering in B.C. casinos is set to testify at the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C. today at 3 p.m.

In 2017, Ross Alderson leaked information to media about suspected dirty cash in the province’s casinos, which to that point had denied any systemic problems. His information formed the backbone for reporting by then Vancouver Sun reporter Sam Cooper.

Commissioner Austin Cullen granted the former director of anti-money laundering (AML) investigations at the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) participant status in June.

Alderson’s testimony could last as long as four to five hours today and will resume again on Friday at 3 p.m.

Alderson reached out to the commission in April after being unresponsive to counsel for more than a year. He had initially sought participant status in 2019, but dropped his application unexpectedly. Attempts by the commission to contact him throughout 2020 failed.

It is now known, via Cullen’s status ruling in June, that Alderson returned to his native country of Australia. But he is keeping a low profile, communicating with the commission only by courier via a hotel beach resort. On May 24, Alderson submitted an affidavit that has yet to be posted publicly.

Cullen allowed Alderson to submit closing remarks — although they must be done “expediently” so Cullen can meet his December 15 final report deadline. Cullen was expected to receive closing submissions in July but will now expect them this month.

Alderson’s name has been raised during testimony several times. As such, Cullen felt it necessary to give Alderson a second chance, noting Alderson’s rights and interests may be adversely impacted. For instance, noted Cullen, Alderson is accused of leaking information to media and undermining AML efforts at BCLC. 

Former colleagues have also questioned Alderson’s mental health, noted Cullen, who, on Monday, is also expecting to hear from Robert Boyle, the Ernst & Young, author of two expert reports to BCLC and provided to the commission near the end of the evidence hearings.

Police investigators alleged high-stakes gamblers sought loans originating from Chinese Triads, who worked in concert with Mexican cartels and local gangs. 
Alderson alleged the casinos didn’t properly enforce AML rules for the gamblers.

“I agree with Mr. Alderson that his unique perspective and experiences during his employment with BCLC from 2008 to 2017 are worthy of further exploration in evidence,” ruled Cullen in June.

Some commission evidence shows Alderson was the one at BCLC who reached out to an RCMP unit specializing in transnational organized crime, in 2015 — a time when bags of suspected drug cash (duffle bags stuffed with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of $20 bills) were routinely deposited in Metro Vancouver casinos with impunity.

A major investigation into the matter called E-Pirate was dropped in November 2018 when Crown prosecutors stated an administrative error led to evidence falling into the possession of the defendants’ counsel that would have exposed an informant.