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Ex-lottery VP says Eby 'disinterested' in corporation's anti-money laundering efforts

VANCOUVER — Attorney General David Eby appeared "disinterested" during an anti-money laundering briefing by top British Columbia Lottery Corp.

VANCOUVER — Attorney General David Eby appeared "disinterested" during an anti-money laundering briefing by top British Columbia Lottery Corp. officials and disparaged the author of a crime analysis report, a former corporation executive told a public inquiry Monday.

Robert Kroeker, ex-vice president of corporate compliance, testified Eby appeared largely disinterested in the Crown corporation's presentation of its anti-money laundering programs and observations during a meeting in October 2017, shortly after the New Democrats formed a government.

Eby had been critical of the lottery corporation's handling of money laundering at casinos before the party came to power in 2017, and he made cracking down on dirty money one of his signature issues as attorney general.

Kroeker said during the meeting he provided Eby with the results of a link analysis document that examined possible connections between known players at provincial casinos and organized criminals, but the minister was not impressed with the work of the corporation's intelligence unit.

"He seemed largely disinterested in it and at the conclusion of my explanation he looked down and he noted the author was Brad Rudnicki, who was our analyst, and he said to me, 'What would a guy with a name like Rudnicki know about Chinese money laundering?' " said Kroeker.

When asked about Kroeker's testimony, the attorney general's office said it would be inappropriate for Eby to comment on matters before the commission while it's underway.

Kroeker said he could not recall exact details of the document discussed at the meeting with Eby but its overall themes examined possible suspicious cash activities inside casinos and connections to organized crime.

"This was prepared by our intelligence analyst and it shows linkages between our players and others, including people who we knew to be associated to criminal activity or crime groups, and transactions that looked questionable, real estate transactions," said Kroeker.

Bud Smith, the lottery corporation's former board chair, also briefed Eby at the October 2017 meeting, Kroeker said.

"Mr. Smith ran him through essentially all of the controls we had," said Kroeker. "How they function and what they were doing."

But he said Smith told him the lottery corporation was not an enforcement agency.

The inquiry heard Monday that many of the people playing with large amounts of money in casinos were business people from China who had homes in Vancouver, but no evidence suggested the money was linked to crime.

Eby's government appointed B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen in May 2019 to lead the public inquiry into money laundering after three reports outlined how hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash affected the province's real estate, luxury vehicle and gaming sectors.

Kroeker, a former police officer who was terminated as vice-president of corporate compliance at the lottery corporation in July 2019, testified that he played an integral part in setting up B.C.'s civil forfeiture office.

— By Dirk Meissner in Victoria.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press