Figliomeni Crime Family Launders Millions of Dollars Through Ontario Casinos
July 23rd, 2019 3.00pm
Nine senior members of the Figliomeni crime family were arrested under charges of defrauding the Canadian government, but not before they successfully laundered over $70M. The 18 month-long Project Sindacato investigation conducted by the York Regional Police Organized Crime and Intelligence Bureau has put an end to a complex money-laundering infrastructure that included legal businesses and casino gambling.
The 46-Year Old Giacomo Cassano Still at Large
With the head of the organization Angelo Figliomeni in custody, the York Regional Police has completed the largest organized crime investigation in the state’s history, building a strong case based almost entirely on the wiretaps and Ontario casino operators’ records.
The entire scheme ran for approximately 5 years, ending in a series of arrests across Ontario and Calabria. The key factor that has ultimately led to the Figliomeni family demise was their own negligence and the fact that they were operating within casinos in the Toronto area. The Ontario province is known for its 24/7 casino police surveillance model, which is likely to be adopted in other areas of the country. This is precisely why many organized crime experts are taken aback by Figliomeni family’s decision to launder a portion of their revenue by gambling. Apart from the casinos, the organization has also established other money-laundering channels, including charities, car dealerships, and finance companies.
The casino operators’ internal records of all the transactions were of immense help, and Detective Sergeant Carl Mattinen (Special Operations Bureau) confirmed that the trail of cash transactions was a central part of the case.
Ciacomo Cassano, one of the vital members of the crime organization, is currently in hiding…
The Winning Streak
According to Det. Sgt. Mattinen, the suspects established a pattern which was maintained over the course of five years. No “straw men” were ever used in their gambling escapades, and only the most reliable members would visit the casinos, gambling away around $30,000 – $50,000 a night. A portion of the money would be lost (probably to avoid raising suspicion), while the rest would be rolled over and then claimed as a winning.
The volume of transactions and the pattern itself drawn the attention of FinTRAC (Financial Transaction and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada) which, together with the investigators from the Canada Revenue Agency, uncovered between 400 and 500 suspicious bank accounts.
Had it not been for the casinos, the organization might have been able to get away with the entire set up. Certain parts of their money-laundering mechanism were extremely sophisticated and skillfully planned. Aside from gambling, a significant part of their ill-gotten gains was flowing through charities such as Rev It Up fundraiser or finance firms that are not legally obliged to report irregular transactions. The police confirmed that Option B Solutions car loan company was involved as well, but they did not reveal the actual amount that was laundered through this particular business.
The Calabria Arrests
Parallelly with Project Sindacato, the police in Calabria was conducting its own investigation, resulting in the arrest of 12 people linked to the infamous Calabrian Ndrangheta Mafia. Antonio Nicaso, lecturer and author of over 30 books on the subject of Mafia, stated that Ndrangheta is closely connected to the Toronto crime organizations.
The powerful blow that the Figliomeni family suffered has shattered the very core of its operations, and Nicaso underlined that the confiscation of the family assets will have a long-lasting impact.
After raiding 27 homes, the police seized more than 20 vehicles and around $35M of assets. All the businesses tied with the members of the organization are under an investigation, and the people who rent the property from the suspects will not be forced to leave their homes for the time being.
One of the Vehicles Seized by the Police