The “Vancouver Model” Used for Money-Laundering Operations in Vegas

Money laundering in casinos is not new. Many casinos around the world are doing their best to put an end to criminals laundering money through their operations. British Columbia was hit heavily by criminals who were able to use casinos there for several years, making money flow freely, laundering it along the way.

The problem with British Columbia is that nobody actually managed to point a finger at anyone during the money-laundering process. The entire form used was rather successful and even got a name of its own — the Vancouver model.

The model was discovered recently in Las Vegas, and two individuals were caught in Nevada for applying the money-laundering scheme in casinos in Sin City. The gamblers plead guilty.

What Exactly Is the Vancouver Model?

The Vancouver model is a name given to the scheme for money laundering by Professor John Langdale of Macquarie University in Australia. Criminals who use this scheme are able to make the most of it. They are mostly Chinese high rollers who want to launder dirty money in casinos all over the world.

The way this model works is that the gamblers have deals with Chinese banks that facilitate the entire operation and take their cut as well. Lenders also take a cut, cleaning the money along the way, and presenting it to clients.

It’s exactly what Bing Han and Lei Zhang seem to have been involved in when they were caught by the authorities in Las Vegas. They were involved in the operation for some time already, although the exact period cannot be specified just yet.

The Vancouver model was definitely applicable in casinos that are in Canada, but the entire gambling industry in that country is not as organized and regulated as casinos in Las Vegas.

That’s why Han and Zhang made a terrible mistake of trying to copy the Vancouver model and apply it in the Vegas area where casinos are pretty much regulated and well guarded. When the two gamblers were caught, they were charged with operating an unlicensed money transmittal business.

They only used their smartphones to access their bank accounts in China that would allow them to expedite the transfers.

The US Attorney’s Office Makes a Plea Agreement

The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, which was in charge of the case, made a plea agreement with the two controversial businessmen from China.

This was done to avoid the entire trial, which could be really long and tedious. The result could be that the two gamblers could be sentenced to prison where they could spend up to five years.

According to the office, this case is actually pretty unique. In fact, this could be the first-ever time that an illegal money transfer between the US and China was conducted so as to avoid all financial regulations.

Outbound transfers that come from China actually have a legal cap, which is set to $50,000. Reportedly, Han and Zhang facilitated transfers that ranged up to several million dollars.

At this point, there’s a suspicion that some casino hosts were also part of this grand scheme. Allegedly, the host helped the two Chinese gamblers facilitate funds delivers, taking a cut of the fee that is paid to them.

However, no individual employee has been prosecuted for possible involvement in the operation. If that happens, however, that person could be in a lot of trouble.

The operation was cut by the authorities, but casinos need to be on the lookout for possible frauds of similar nature.


A sports enthusiast, Ryan helps cover sports betting news from around the country, highlighting some of the more interesting events going on in the USA.