Lottery company knew about suspicious money at B.C. casinos, says former VP

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A former executive of the British Columbia lottery corporation became emotional on Tuesday after two days of giving evidence at a public inquiry into money laundering.

Robert Kroeker took a few moments to collect himself when asked to describe his experience as a focal point in the British Columbia investigation into money laundering and the impact of allegations that the company of lottery would not act on large amounts of illegal money in casinos.

“It was devastating not being able to react, especially when I was at the corporation, and especially for my team,” said the former RCMP officer. “They are professionals and to see them continuously attacked and slandered, it is really unfair. . ”

Kroeker, who was fired as vice president of corporate compliance in 2019, spent much of his testimony explaining what the state corporation knew about cash circulating in casinos and what was made to prevent it.

“You’re not a floor manager. You’re not on the business side of casinos. You’re not winning and eating high rollers,” said Marie Henein, Kroeker’s attorney. . “You’re not doing that. You’ve spent your life playing by the rules and trying to fight money laundering and keep BC casinos safe”

Former gaming investigator Larry Vander Graaf, who is also a former constable, told the commission last November that the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) had not acted quickly enough to protect the integrity of gaming from the organized crime more than ten years ago.

Vander Graaf testified that large amounts of suspicious cash began showing up in B.C. casinos in 2007, and in 2010 loan sharks were circulating nearby parking lots with bags of money believed to be from of crime.

Kroeker testified Tuesday that he received a high-level briefing on suspicious cash activity at provincial casinos with possible links to organized crime on his first day at the lottery company in 2015.

He said he reviewed a document finding that lottery officials appeared unwilling to address police concerns about suspicious cash and its potential links to organized crime. The document also included the lottery company’s concerns about potential fallout if the information became public, he added.

“Certainly at this point BCLC knew there was a concern that cash brought into casinos was proceeds of crime,” said BC government lawyer Jacqueline Hughes. , addressing Kroeker.

“Yes, of course,” Kroeker said.

On Monday, Kroeker testified that Attorney General David Eby seemed uninterested in the lottery company’s anti-money laundering efforts during a 2017 meeting shortly after the New Democrats took office.

The Attorney General’s Department said in a statement Monday that Eby would not comment on evidence or proceedings while the commission is ongoing.

But in a statement on Tuesday, the ministry said “this government’s actions to combat financial crime in British Columbia speak for themselves.”

Kroeker testified Tuesday that the issue of money laundering in British Columbia had become “politically charged” and was being used by both major political parties to criticize each other.

The province appointed B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen in 2019 to lead the public inquiry into money laundering after three reports described how hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash affected sectors real estate, luxury vehicles and games in the province.