BCLC’s Chief Compliance Officer talks FINTRAC report insights

Marie-Noëlle Savoie on how collaboration is key to AML

Last week’s report from Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC) may have been news to some but to many online operators in the industry, the end result was largely a reminder of things they already knew.

Speaking with Canadian Gaming Business, British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) VP Legal and Chief Compliance Officer Marie-Noëlle Savoie explained that the report came about through a collaborative relationship.

Communication is constant between BCLC and FINTRAC

“We do have regular conversations with FINTRAC. They, of course, come to audit us on a regular basis. And all of the suspicious transaction reports that we send are not necessarily obviously money laundering per se all the time, it’s just something that’s suspicious. And then they get to look at them, put them together and kind of report back on that as well. So it’s very much a two-way communication,” she explained.

Though the lines of communication are open, the responsibility does ultimately lie with FINTRAC.

“It’s a lot more one way in the sense that we file a report, and we don’t necessarily always hear back. But it’s definitely two ways when they do come for audits or if we have anything that we feel that we need to bring to their attention.”

Being on top of money laundering and other financial crimes is an undertaking that also extends beyond just the provincial lottery and FINTRAC. BCLC meets weekly with law enforcement, plus multiple stakeholders meet regularly with a vested interest in maintaining the law.

“We also have the Counter Illicit Finance Alliance which is actually a group that includes financial institutions, FINTRAC, law enforcement, all different types of reporting entities, and we discuss what’s happening in the BC market on a regular basis,” said Savoie.

Collaboration is the key to AML innovations

Much like the cybersecurity experts within the online gambling space always have to be on their toes about what new scheme criminals will come up with next, so too do the financial crimes experts. That is an effort that is best done in tandem with these groups instead of in a vacuum.

“That’s why we have regular conversations with a myriad of stakeholders, because somebody might notice a trend going in one direction that perhaps just one entity sitting by themselves might not find. So this is what happens with the power of the stakeholder groups,” she observed.

Savoie and the other stakeholders certainly understand what the trends are in financial fraud and are well aware of what is at stake. What she appreciates about the release from FINTRAC is that can help other people, particularly BCLC patrons and non-gaming financial institutions, understand why certain procedures and policies are in place.

“What I’m really happy about with this bulletin is that it increases kind the eyes on the issue, and definitely helps the other reporting entities, such as financial institutions, for example, really understand what the indicators are and what they should be looking at. So it gives them  a pretty good checklist to start having kind of gathering more intelligence on FINTRAC’s part.”

Consumers do care about online casino security

An official report like what FINTRAC put out may not be on the radar of the average online casino customer. That does not mean it does not impact them though. Operators are always trying to find the balance between a frictionless process and one that protects customer data and funds. Oftentimes players don’t understand why money is held or extra paperwork is needed.

Conveying the core info from the FINTRAC report to a customer may not translate, but Savoie did say that users are more tuned in to issues than some might realize how important these protections are.

“I think when the players see an ad they see a flashy ad, I don’t think they necessarily ask themselves that question,” she said. “But when we do player research, we keep seeing is that the number one thing that people want is they want security, which is very, very interesting. So I think we really need to make sure that we continue to hone in on that message because that’s something that the players definitely want.”

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