Thursday, May 9, 2019

Richmond lawyer Hong Guo, says trust-fund cash was stolen, laundered through a B.C. casino and sent to China

Richmond lawyer Hong Guo, says trust-fund cash was stolen, laundered through a B.C. casino and sent to China

Lawyer Hong Guo says a self-prompted investigation into the theft of $7.5 million from her firm's trust account has turned up evidence the money was stolen and laundered through a B.C. casino. POSTMEDIA NEWS
At a press conference Monday, Guo claimed that through her own investigations in B.C. and China, she has forwarded sufficient evidence to Chinese police authorities in order to secure charges against her former employees.
Guo claimed that through court actions, she has obtained B.C. casino transaction records to support her case.
Postmedia News has reported extensively on Guo’s case since late 2016. However, Guo’s allegation that suspects exploited weaknesses in B.C. Lottery Corp. accounts in order to launder funds stolen in Richmond and to transfer the criminal proceeds to China, will receive heightened scrutiny in the midst of an independent review into allegations of transnational money laundering in B.C. casinos. The first recommendations of Attorney-General David Eby’s reviewer Peter German will be released Tuesday.
In legal documents, Guo alleges that her former employees developed an inappropriate relationship in the office, and through a complex scheme, in March 2016 drained her trust account by forging her name on cheques, and then deposited millions in bank drafts into BCLC client accounts. Cash was withdrawn from casino accounts and somehow ended up in China, Guo’s legal filings allege.
On Monday, Guo added new details, alleging that suspects made massive cash and playing chip withdrawals from New Westminster’s Starlight Casino before fleeing to China.
“The facts I know, is (a female employee) took cash from her account every day, for a short period of time … $700,000, and $800,000. It’s a large amount. So the casino doesn’t think something is wrong?” Guo said.
Guo claimed that she also interviewed a New Westminster casino manager about her concerns.
“The manager said that, if you give us bank drafts into our account, the policy is you can (withdraw) as much cash as you like,” Guo said. “As long as it is a bank draft (deposit) you can withdraw cash.”
Even further, Guo claimed her investigation showed that gamblers can transfer BCLC casino chips to casinos in China, in order to exchange the B.C. gambling chips for cash outside of Canada.
Guo issued a statement saying: “Evidence obtained by Hong Guo through court order and Freedom of Information requests show (a female employee) transferred the money in the form of casino chips from her account at New Westminster’s … casino to casinos in China where they were turned into cash.”


Guo said that for legal reasons, she could not provide casino transaction records to Postmedia. As Guo did not provide documents from China naming her former employees in connection to charges, Postmedia has decided not to name the man and woman.
The BCLC has claimed that patron gaming fund accounts, such as the one allegedly used by Guo’s former employee, have greater protections against money laundering, compared to large cash deposits. However, B.C. gaming enforcement branch documents raise concerns that bank drafts deposited into BCLC accounts are not adequately vetted for source of funds.
On Monday, Guo said that she believes in her case, these concerns about bank draft deposits and the vetting of funds in BCLC client accounts were proven true.
BCLC did not respond Monday to Postmedia’s request for comments on Guo’s allegations.
Guo also repeatedly accused the RCMP of failing to adequately investigate her case.
A confidential B.C. Gaming Enforcement Branch “Section 86” report obtained by Postmedia confirms that B.C. Lottery Corp. in April 2016 received a complaint at Starlight Casino in New Westminster, about the female suspect named by Guo.
“There were concerns that an unknown number of bank drafts submitted by (the suspect) for gambling purposes derived from a third party involved in fraud,” the document says. The suspect’s gaming privileges were cancelled and two banks, CIBC and BMO, investigated the alleged transactions, the document says. And several days later, a Richmond RCMP officer “confirmed he was investigating a $7.5 million fraud involving a law firm in Richmond,” the Section 86 report says. “(Suspect) is believed to be the recipient of some of those funds.”
Postmedia pointed to this document on Monday, and Guo responded: “I’m not aware of any action (RCMP) took … They didn’t help me at all.”
The RCMP did not respond to Postmedia’s requests for comment on Guo’s allegations.
Guo also claimed on Monday that a B.C. Law Society investigation of her trust fund shortage case has found no issues at her practice.
In response to questions from Postmedia after Guo’s press conference, Law Society spokesman David Jordan said: “Our investigation of Guo continues and details of any investigation remain confidential unless and until a citation is authorized.”

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