B.C. Lottery Corp. relents after 9-year battle to keep secret records linked to $700k fine
11 Feb 2020

After fighting the CBC for nine years over the release of money laundering records, the B.C. Lottery Corporation is finally relenting.

After three trips to court, a full hearing before B.C.’s information and privacy commission, and another hearing coming up, the lottery corporation now plans to go to court to get permission to release the documents to the CBC.

The records relate to the reasons why Canada’s money laundering watchdog, FINTRAC, imposed a $695,750 fine against BCLC in 2010 — its largest ever fine against a provincial gaming corporation.

“I find it a little bit horrifying that level of resource investment has to go into getting access to this kind of record,” said Mike Larsen, president of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.

“We firmly believe that access delayed is access denied,” he said.

BCLC said it is unable to comment on its change of heart given the matter will be before the Federal Court, and is currently before the information and privacy commissioner.

However, B.C. Attorney General David Eby said he made his wishes about transparency known to the new board at BCLC.

“I think the release of these documents — and I hope it will come urgently — is long overdue,” Eby said.

Long and winding road

In 2010, FINTRAC conducted a major audit of BCLC. The results weren’t good, and led to the record fine.

BCLC is required under money laundering legislation to send to FINTRAC reports of large and suspicious cash transactions that take place in B.C. casinos.

The details of what FINTRAC found were never released.

At the time, BCLC said the problems related to late filing of reports due to technical glitches and human error.

1,285 problematic reports

Two years ago, a report into money laundering at B.C. casinos written by former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German confirmed the fine was linked to deficiencies in more than 1,285 reports. But other details — such as what FINTRAC’S audit report said, and its reasons for finding BCLC in violation — remained secret.

In 2011, the CBC filed a freedom of information request to obtain the records, which BCLC opposed. The CBC took the case to the freedom of information commissioner, and in a pair of rulings, the office ordered the records released.

BCLC quickly petitioned the B.C. Supreme Court to overturn the commissioner’s ruling. The CBC eventually withdrew from the case.

By Paisley Woodward, CBC News, 10 February 2020

Read more at CBC News

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