Casino whistle-blower fired

A former casino investigator says he was fired after ringing alarm bells about money laundering in B.C. back in 2014.

Joe Schalk was the senior director of investigations at B.C.’s gambling regulator, and says the image of $600,000 in $20 bills being cashed in to a casino cashier will always stick with him.

“She disappeared behind these bills to the point where all you could see was her eyes and forehead. It was a huge mountain of cash,” Schalk told CTV.

Schalk’s team was tasked with tracking such suspicious transactions, but in December that year, he and a colleague were dismissed without cause, and walked out of the building, he says.

As reports of suspected money laundering mounted, he says no one seemed to be listening.

“I think the noise that was being made needed to be quieted,” he said.

His claims were backed up in a recent provincial report on B.C. casinos linking money laundering to the drug trade, gangs and shady real estate deals.

"Both had been with GPEB for over a decade, after long and distinguished policing careers. Three other employees, including the person leading the money laundering strategy, were assigned to other departments,” Dr. Peter German wrote in the report.

Schalk wasn't the only one. Michaela Wyatt was also let go after reporting suspected money laundering at Burnaby’s Grand Villa Casino in 2009.

“I watched hundreds of thousands of dollars go from a woman’s purse to gamblers," she said.

She says she was told not to worry about it, and after a two-month probationary period was fired.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

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