Attorney General David Eby’s failure to correct misinformation in 2017 media articles about money-laundering in casinos demoralized B.C. Lottery Corp. staff and misled the public, the Crown firm’s CEO and president told the Cullen Commission Friday.

In his second day of testimony, Jim Lightbody questioned the NDP minister’s role in the money-laundering debate, citing his “relationship” with a BCLC employee leaking information, and Eby’s email telling BCLC to rescind new cash-cap measures until after the findings of consultant Dr. Peter German and other observations.

Earlier in the week, BCLC former VP of Legal, Compliance and Security Robert Kroeker also said the company was prevented by Eby’s office from responding to incorrect reports and later told to record a $60-million loss to gild German’s recommendations.

“I think that many of you saw the impact this whole episode has had on people like Rob Kroeker and it makes me very sad to see that,” Lightbody told the Inquiry into Money Laundering.

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The head of the B.C. Lottery Corp. was alarmed and called it a “pivotal moment” when he learned for the first time that proceeds of crime were being used by casino gamblers, real-estate purchasers and luxury car buyers.

On getting the RCMP report in August 2015, BCLC CEO and president Jim Lightbody took immediate steps to ban those involved, ramp up a cash-conditions program and, later, banned players from using cash from money-services companies, even Wells Fargo.

“That was a pivotal moment for us,” he told the Inquiry into money laundering on Thursday.

“We had now heard from the RCMP, they had for the first time told us that there’s proceeds of crime being used by the money-services in Richmond. That alarmed me greatly.”

Lightbody insisted reports about money laundering and the use of proceeds of crime in B.C. casinos up until then were hearsay.

“There were suspicions and we had controls to deal with those risks. But this was an actual case of organized crime lending money to patrons who were going to casinos, and going and buying real estate and other things they were using the money-services business for and there was a potential tie-in with transnational terrorist financing. I was blown away.”

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B.C. Attorney-General David Eby has been accused at the Cullen Commission of turning money-laundering into a politically charged debate by handcuffing the B.C. Lottery Corp. and possibly leaking private information to the media.

Former Vice-President of Legal, Compliance and Security/Chief Compliance Officer for BCLC Robert Kroeker said the Crown corporation was prevented from responding to incorrect media reports and told to take a $60-million loss to make consultant Peter German’s money-laundering report look effective.

Under pressure from Eby, he added, BCLC put on hold a suite of anti-money-laundering initiatives at casinos, including a $25,000 cash pay-out limit.

At the Inquiry into Money Laundering, Kroeker said he was told the minister “was pissed, very upset, didn’t like that we were doing this now ahead of German’s recommendations, didn’t want us to get ahead of him being able to announce things.”

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The Achilles heel of B.C.’s Inquiry into Money Laundering was on full display in its walking-on-eggshells treatment of Canada’s Big Six banks.

The supposedly tough-nosed commission that was going to name names and assign blame went in camera to hear key testimony from a panel of bankers.

And it treated with kid gloves the first bank executive to testify — Michael Bowman, the global chief of anti-money laundering for the Toronto-Dominion Bank Group.

Casino operators, realtors, lawyers, accountants, ATM operators and plenty of others have been dragged through the mud, but the banks so far seem Teflon-coated.

Consider that in March 2018, the Mounties told the national institutions that an investigation had found 3,000 anonymously purchased bank drafts were negotiated through B.C. casinos worth $150 million — $147 million, or 98 per cent, from the Big Six.

“The top two financial institutions … would be TD and the next bank, that together represent 66 per cent of the dollar value and about 63 per cent of the count volume, roughly $100 million between the top two banks of which TD bank is the first,” commission lawyer Nicholas Isaac said.

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Chris Chandler found himself growing more and more uncomfortable during testimony last week at the B.C. Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering.

As veteran RCMP expert Melanie Paddon explained how generic ATM cash machines were being used to wash huge amounts of dirty money, Chandler couldn’t believe his ears.

By the time the Joint Illegal Gaming Investigation Team member had finished, Chandler, the president of the ATM Industry Association, told Commissioner Austin Cullen he needed a moment.

“I’m honestly … I’m just having a hard time controlling myself. Both the report (Paddon read from) and Ms. Paddon’s testimony … are completely devoid of any evidence that people are actually money-laundering through ‘white-label’ ATMs. So I really struggle with this.

“When I look at the estimate provided — $300 million to $1 billion per annum — firstly, that’s a report from 2008 … so by my math in the 13 years since this report was published there should have been $4 billion to $13 billion laundered through white-label ATMs, it seems to me either that number is completely dead wrong or we have a terrible enforcement problem.”

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