Several police officers and a myriad of other law enforcement agents raided an illegal gambling establishment in September 2020 in Toronto. Hundreds of thousands of dollars confiscated and dozens of arrests later, there is a probability that Chinese national Wei Wei, among the suspects behind the casino, could be connected to Chinese intelligence.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Wei Wei at least twice in 2016, once at a Liberal fundraiser which sparked a bit of controversy as Trudeau’s presence violated a number of ethical regulations regarding so-called pay for play donations where donors gain preferential treatment and special favours.
The investigation has now taken an even more sinister turn as it is speculated that Wei Wei may be a Chinese government spy on a mission to infiltrate the Canadian government by influencing politicians, like something out of an Ian Fleming novel.
Chinese Money Laundering
Canadian intelligence suggests that the illegal casino busted last month could be connected to the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations (CACA) which represents close to 100 Chinese associations in Canada. The CACA is suspected of being a front for launching legal businesses and cover illegal activities in the country and internationally.
CACA’s chairman, Yongtao Chen, and Wei Wei were both listed as directors of a company used to buy two hotels in Toronto for $75 million in 2017. This link between the two men, as well as a third individual, Xing Yue Chen, is “mind-blowing” according to sources close to the investigation.
Deep Ties To United Front
Chinese President Xi Jinping has described United Front as a “magic weapon” when it comes to pushing China’s Communist Party’s agenda abroad. United Front has also been connected with CACA, suggesting that the highest echelons of power in China are aware of illegal gambling operations in Canada as they serve as jump-off points for other illegal activities.
“There is a very tight, incestuous relationship between organized crime in China and within diaspora communities, and the United Front. Co-opting criminal networks is one of the Party’s preferred tools for the infiltration of target organizations and communities for foreign interference operations,” said David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China.
COVID-19 Spikes Illegal Gambling In Canada
The ongoing pandemic has forced virtually all brick-and-mortar casinos to close down due to government enforced regulations in place in an effort to bring the rampant spread of the virus under control. Thousands of workers have been laid off and millions in revenues have been lost.
Illegal gambling establishments have been popping up like mushrooms all over Canada in recent months. The operation to bring this development to a halt has become known as Project End Game and so far there has been dozens of arrest, millions of dollars confiscated along with firearms, illegal drugs, and thousands of bottles of premium liquor.
According to police, human trafficking may also have been part of the underground network of these illegal gambling dens.
Slow Return For Legal Casinos
While the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation has cleared casinos to reopen, the restrictions are really tight. Most slot games have been taken out to provide for social distancing, table games are available but can only seat few players at a time, and drinking and dining have been restricted too.
In Quebec, meanwhile, casinos have been closed much longer. Loto-Quebec, the provincial gambling monopoly, said in September that its four casinos and two gaming halls would shut down completely between October 1 and October 28.
Online casinos, on the other hand, have been breaking records month after month during these shutdowns.