Pubdate: Thu, 19 Oct 2017
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Sam Cooper
Page: 3


Criminal charges have been laid against Silver International
Investment, a money-transfer business that RCMP allege was involved in
money laundering, had ties to underground banking and used suspected
drug cash to fund Chinese VIP gamblers in B.C. casinos.

During the RCMP's so-called E-Pirate probe, Mounties allege they
uncovered $500 million-plus from a Richmond money-laundering service
that they said handled up to $1.5 million a day.

"The Public Prosecution Service of Canada can confirm that charges
have been laid against Caixuan Qin, Jian Jun Zhu, and Silver
International Investments Ltd. in relation to Project E-Pirate,"
spokeswoman Nathalie Houle said Wednesday in an email. "We have no
other information to provide at this time."

RCMP and B.C. government documents obtained through freedom of
information allege organized criminals used Silver as an illegal bank
to wash drug money. According to the allegations, a network of
"private lenders" in Richmond lent cash from Silver to VIP gamblers
recruited from China. These high-rollers visited B.C. for gambling
junkets, according to these allegations, and received hockey bags full
of cash.

Officials allege these loans allowed wealthy gamblers to get money in
Canada, bypassing China's tight capital-export controls, and pay back
the loan through underground banks in China. The VIPs were able to buy
betting chips with street-cash $20 bills, mostly at Richmond's River
Rock Casino, and later cash out with $100 bills more suitable for
investment in B.C., an audit by B.C.'s gaming enforcement policy
branch alleges.

According to court records, Qin, born in 1984, and Zhu, born in 1975,
face five counts, including laundering proceeds of a crime, possession
of property obtained by crime and failing to ascertain the identity of
a client. Silver International faces the same five counts.

The accused are scheduled for a first appearance in Richmond
provincial court Oct. 30. Matthew Nathanson, lawyer for Silver
International, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Corporate records say Caixuan Qin is the director of Silver
International. Qin's mailing address for Silver is an apartment unit
in Richmond. Qin is not the owner of the apartment, according to title
documents. Caixuan Qin is listed as owner of a $2.5-million home in
south Vancouver.

Silver, which was incorporated in 2014, operated in a unit of an
office complex at 5811 Cooney Rd. in Richmond. Little else can be
found about the company in B.C. registry documents.

In late August, at a Vancouver conference attended by law enforcement
officials, RCMP Insp. Bruce Ward outlined the details of E-Pirate. The
investigation started with surveillance of gambling and cash drops at
River Rock Casino, documents say, which led to Silver's cash house,
about a 10-minute drive away.

Ward said RCMP surveillance identified 40 different organizations
linked to Asian organized groups dealing cocaine, heroin and
methamphetamine. Gangsters were delivering "suitcases laden with cash"
to Silver's cash house.

At Silver, dealers could drop off $100,000 in cash in a suitcase, Ward
said, and within minutes a credit for $95,000 would appear in a
Chinese bank after a five per cent fee was taken.

"The primary target that led us there was a person that is involved in
generating 'whales' ... these highend gamblers," Ward said. "His
expertise is going over and working in Macau, identifying rich Chinese
businessmen that would go to Macau and he was attracting them to
Canada to gamble. He would use Silver International as a bank account."

Describing a typical cash drop, Ward said: "They would put $100,000
into a hockey bag, show up at the casino and give (the VIP gambler)
$100,000 ... the loaning out would go to Chinese offshore gamblers
coming into Canada."

In a raid on Silver International's office in October 2015, civil
forfeiture documents allege, Mounties seized over $2 million in mostly
$20 bills, plus ledgers and daily transaction records. Ledgers suggest
that in one year Silver laundered $220 million in cash in B.C. and
sent over $300 million offshore, according to Ward.

B.C. gaming enforcement branch documents say information revealed by
the RCMP's investigation into Silver and funding of gamblers at River
Rock Casino led them to suspect funds are tied to "transnational drug
trafficking ... (that) could have a potentially devastating impact on
the casino industry."

A 2016 B.C. gaming enforcement branch audit alleged River Rock Casino
staff knowingly accepted millions in suspicious cash that was provided
to VIP gamblers by lenders who were banned from B.C. casinos,
Postmedia has reported.

On Wednesday, Chuck Keeling, an executive with River Rock's operator
Great Canadian Gaming Corp., said he was not aware of charges laid in
the E-Pirate investigation and was not able to comment.
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