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B.C. gaming investigators repeatedly warned bosses of ‘horrendous’ money laundering

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When former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German brought down his Dirty Money report in June, he guessed the amount of suspicious cash laundered through B.C. casinos “exceeded $100 million” over approximately seven years.

Now, previously secret internal reports obtained by CBC News through a freedom of information request show the dollar figure is at least seven times higher: more than $700 million between 2010 and 2017.

And the co-author of the confidential reports — who was one of the province’s top gaming investigators — believes the actual figure is $1 billion.

“I crunched the numbers and added them all up,” said Joe Schalk, former senior director of investigations with the province’s Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch (GPEB). “The numbers would have exceeded $1 billion for sure in suspicious currency transactions. It was a staggering amount of money.”

Shortly after warning of a “massive escalation” of suspected dirty money flowing virtually unimpeded into B.C. casinos, Schalk and his boss were fired in late 2014.

Joe Schalk, a former director of investigations with B.C.’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, says ‘at times we were even told we should not be talking about money laundering.’ (Joe Schalk)

‘Horrendous amounts of unexplained cash’

The Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch Investigation Division reports were for the eyes of casino overseers in the province — including senior bureaucrats and the assistant deputy minister in charge of GPEB under the former B.C. Liberal government.

Schalk’s October 2013 report was an urgent call to action. 

It warned none of the anti-money laundering measures introduced by the province in 2011 — including an attempt to move away from cash to electronic transfer of funds at casinos— had “slowed the dramatic and on-going increase in suspicious cash.”

“The alarm continues to ring, even louder,” stated the report, noting “horrendous amounts of unexplained cash …continues to flood” into B.C. casinos.

It predicted the total amount of suspicious cash transactions at B.C. casinos was “coming very close to $100 million a year.”

Casino patrons arrive with thousands of dollars in unsourced cash in this security video. (B.C. Ministry of Attorney General)

B.C. Lottery Corp pushed to ease restrictions: Report

In the midst of these serious concerns, the 2013 report noted the B.C Lottery Corporation was pushing to ease restrictions on suspicious transactions, “requesting that casino cheques be issued to patrons that had entered with large amounts of currency, put their money at risk and then left the casino.”

The GPEB investigators expressed their opposition, stating BCLC’s request would pose a “huge risk.”

As for the casinos themselves, the report urged they be required to refuse suspicious cash.

“[Casinos] simply follow the BCLC guideline of ‘know your customer’ …  however never asks about or questions the origin of the money,” even though patrons brought in “up to $500,000 in cash” — often in $20 bills, the currency of street drugs, according to the 2013 report.

The report authors, Schalk and Larry Vander Graaf, executive director of GPEB, called for regulations to force casinos to do their “due diligence.”

But no such action was taken at that time by the B.C. Liberal government or the B.C. Lottery Corporation.

BCLC says it has no law enforcement or investigative powers, but took action to increase controls.

‘Massive escalation’ in 2014

A year later, the follow-up October 2014 report declared the money laundering crisis was even worse.

“The [new] numbers clearly show a massive escalation of suspicious currency entering casinos,” stated Vander Graaf.

It estimated suspicious currency transactions would exceed $185 million in 2014-2015 alone.

Former British Columbia Finance Minister Mike de Jong says ‘steps were taken’ to address the massive growth of money laundering in B.C. casinos. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

“It is my and others unchallenged opinion that … casinos have an obligation to deter money laundering and not facilitate or be wilfully blind,” wrote Vander Graaf.

He called for GPEB to be given enforcement powers, including the ability to impose penalties on non-compliant casinos. He called such powers “critical”  — but they weren’t granted to the agency at the time. 

Vander Graaf could not be reached for comment, but Schalk blames the B.C. Lottery Corporation and the B.C. government for failing to act.

“It was demoralizing. It astounded us that nobody was doing anything and appeared not to want to do anything,” said Schalk.

“At times, we were even told we should not be talking about money laundering.”

Report authors fired

On Dec. 4, 2014 —  five weeks after the October 2014 report was submitted —  both Vander Graaf and Schalk were fired from their jobs.

“I think that was an answer to us ringing the bell for so long and they weren‘t going to listen anymore,” said Schalk.

He believes BCLC bears most of the responsibility.

“I think [the reports] clearly indicate that in our opinion BCLC was wilfully blind to what was happening,” said Schalk. “They were well, well, well aware of exactly the extent and the severity of the suspicious currency that was coming in.”

‘Claims are categorically false’: B.C. Lottery Corporation

The B.C. Lottery Corporation denies the accusation.

“These claims are categorically false,” said spokesperson Lara Gerrits. “BCLC and its employees recognize the risk that money laundering poses to casinos.”

In an email to CBC News, Gerrits writes the lottery corporation repeatedly “took action” including flagging concerns to police and GPEB in numerous meetings.

The man who was the minister responsible for gaming when the GPEB reports were filed, said he’s not sure he saw them — but takes issue with the claim he didn’t act.

‘Steps were taken’: Ex-finance minister

“Could more have been done, should more have been done? I guess you can always do more,” said former Finance Minister Mike de Jong.

“There is I think a tendency on some people’s part to want to portray this as a problem that was ignored. It was not. And steps were taken.”

In 2016, one year before the B.C. Liberals lost power, de Jong held a news conference to announce the creation of a joint illegal gaming investigation team.

B.C. government officials in power during the period covered by the internal reports said they did not ignore money laundering at casinos. (B.C. Ministry of Attorney General)

The NDP announced it was cracking down on money laundering in B.C. casinos shortly after taking office in 2017.

Attorney General David Eby tightened gaming regulations following an interim report by Peter German, requiring gamblers with more than $10,000 cash to complete a “source of funds” declaration, and placed government regulators in large casinos.

The flow of suspicious currency dropped to $2.1 million in the first six months of 2018, according to the B.C. Lottery Corporation.

Even with the changes, Schalk said he’s just glad his formerly confidential reports have now been released.

“For somebody to now say, ‘look at these numbers, isn’t it horrific?’ I’d say … we should have looked at this a long time ago and been much more serious about stopping it.

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John Summers: How Ottawa lawyer mocked motherhood and society, reveals new book

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An Ottawa based lawyer from a leading law firm has been entangled in a web of controversy due to his action, which many have described has shocking and inhumane.

Despite claiming to uphold justice, human rights and societal values, John Summers, a lawyer at Bell Baker LLP, is a clear-cut example of just how broken the legal system in Canada is. It appears that Summers and his firm for years now have been exploiting a disturbed senior citizens  with chronic health conditions in his continuous abuse of his wife, for financial gains.

Summers has consistently stood in the way of justice by fabricating numerous lies. Resorting to lies in an attempt to hinder justice is an action that is heavily frowned upon by ethical legal practitioners. But Dezrin continued to suffer domestic abuse due to Summers’ action which had preventing her son, Raymond from seeing his own mother.

Summers’ actions since February 2016 has now resulted in the reported premature death of Dezrin Carby-Samuels who had been an RN who was selflessly dedicated to serving both her family and every community that she had lived.

Raymond and his mother, Dezrin, had sought the intervention of the law courts as a last resort in their quest for justice after Dezrin has been consistently abused by her husband, Horace and her daughter, Marcella. Rather than getting the fair hearing and justice that they expected, they received the direct opposite due to Summers apparently employing every dirty trick in the book. He has resorted to lies and illicit collaboration with judges of him alma mata just to inhibit every effort being made by Dezrin and her son.

In a book titled John Summers: The Untold Story of Corruption, Systemic Racism and Evil at Bell Baker LLP, author Peter Tremblay takes readers on a shocking journey into John Summers’ tactics which lacked ethical properiety and human decency.

Summers is proof that the ethical practices associated with the legal profession is quickly fading and it is a course for concern. In the case against Horace, Summers produced an apparent fraudulent affidavit which claimed that Raymond suffers from a mental condition—an entirely false claim. Lawyers like Summers are willing to go any length in an attempt to hinder justice, even if it leads to the destruction of lives and properties.

Summers falsely claimed that his client, Horace couldn’t file a defence for himself because he was unaware of the adopted court proceedings. However, in the early 1900s, Horace was the same one who showed so much confidence in his legal capabilities that he decided not to hire a legal counsel but represent himself during a lawsuit between his union and the Canadian Government. This act is contradictory to Summers’ claim of his poor legal understanding.

As humans, some certain moral ethics and values set us apart from other living things and one of them is showing respect for elders. Lawyers are respected in the society due to their pledge to always ensure justice prevails but Summers’ apparent greed and love for money have made him violate the human rights of an ailing mother and her son.

Peter Tremblay’s book uncovers untold stories of a corrupt system that accommodates abuse in the most inhumane form.  In Canada’s legal system, empathy and compassion were thrown out the door in exchange for money and an unknown demomic agenda. It begs the question: How then are aggrieved citizens supposed to trust a legal system for justice when a lawyer can tell unending lies against a senior citizen without any consequences or accountability?

The Law Society of Upper Canada which is supposed to regulate the legal profession in Ontario is a complete joke run by similarly corrupt lawyers who ignore the misdeeds of their colleagues.

Summers’ actions have led to Dezrin being unable to do anything since she lost her ability to walk, talk or even write due to abuse and ultimately her premature death.

Her inability to receive help from even her own son due to Summers’ fraudulent activities resulted in the destruction of Dezrin Carby-Samuels and for that reason Summers should be barred from the further practice of law anywhere in Canada.

In my view, Summers is an abomination to the legal profession and Peter Tremblay’s book documents the activities of John Summers since 2016 against three judges who where not from Summers’ alma mata and who sought justice for Dezrin and her son.

Since 2016, Dezrin had sought obtain freedom from forcible confinement imposed by her abusive husband but was unsuccessful, due to the interference Summers who refused to divulge who was in fact paying him reportedly $300/hr to frustrate justice.

Reports from credible sources allege that Dezrin passed away sometime last year due to Summers’ evil practices and this report has cast a dark cloud over the future of the legal system in Canada which had been ignoring the plight of other black Canadians.

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City staff propose ‘gold belt’ to hem in future Ottawa development

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The City of Ottawa is about to have a second marathon debate about where to allow future suburbs to be built, and this time staff propose hemming in development by creating what’s being dubbed the “gold belt.”

Eight months after city council decided to expand the urban boundary by 1,281 hectares to help house a growing population, senior city planners have released the map of which properties should be developed — and which property owners stand to see values soar if their lands are rezoned. 

They include areas north of Kanata on March Road, near the future Bowesville O-Train station in the south end, and at the southern edge of Orléans.

Scoring rural properties on such things as how close they are to transit and how costly it would be to build pipes and roads proved a challenge over the past several months, however.

“The easy land has been gobbled up in years past, in previous boundary expansions,” said Coun. Scott Moffatt, who belongs to a group of councillors that meets about the new official plan. “So now we’re looking at those leftover pieces and where we can [grow], knowing council was clear we would not be touching agricultural lands.”

270 hectares short of goal

Staff struggled to come up with all 1,281 hectares council approved adding in May 2020 because they had too many issues with “sub-optimal” lands.

Instead, they recommended converting 1,011 hectares of rural land to urban for now to meet provincial requirements, and then spending the next five years studying three options for making up the 270-hectare shortfall.

That opens the door to creating an entirely new suburb. 

For instance, one option involves a huge parcel near the Amazon warehouse southeast of the city where the Algonquins of Ontario envision a community of 35,000 to 45,000 people called Tewin, which they would build with developers Taggart.

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How an Ottawa woman built a majestic snow dragon in her front yard

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OTTAWA — You may sometimes feel winter drag on, but one Ottawa woman is not letting that dim her creativity.

Dr. Mary Naciuk is family doctor and rural emergency room physician. She spent some of her free time this weekend building a majestic snow dragon in front of her south Ottawa home.

“It’s just fun to get outside and do something creative,” she told CTV News on Sunday.

There was plenty of snow to use, after Ottawa saw a record 21 cm of snow on Saturday.

She said that after her husband cleared the driveway, the pile of snow left behind lent itself to being turned into a magnificent dragon, but it takes more than just the right kind of snow to make a sculpture like this.

Naciuk tells CTV News a shovel, a butter knife, a spoon and even a blowtorch were used to give the dragon its sharp edges and defined scales.

“Anything pointy with a small detail is really hard to do with just your fingers or the butter knife and spoon I was using, so (the blowtorch) just makes a fine point,” she said.

Her son tweeted about it on Saturday and Naciuk says many people have stopped to take a look.

My mom has reached the pass me a blowtorch and shovel and watch me make a snow dragon stage of the pandemic

(I was only allowed to shovel piles of snow) pic.twitter.com/aphZotpHiC — Tom Naciuk (@NaciukThomas) January 16, 2021

“A lot of people stop on their way to the ice rink and have a look and take pictures. It’s kind of fun,” she said.

It was a welcome relief to spend some time working on something creative outdoors, Naciuk said.

“Get outside, get some exercise, clear your mind, do something that is not COVID for a few hours. It obeys all the rules. It was great,” she said, adding that the dragon took her about five hours to build.

She’s been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for months. 

“It’s been a steep learning curve. It’s been exhausting,” she said. “A lot of the time is learning how to deliver care to people and maintain all the precautions that we need to. That’s been hard. A lot of people are not able to work from time to time, so we fill a lot of extra shifts. It’s been a lot more hours of work than it used to be, that’s for sure.”

Naciuk returns to work on Monday after a weekend of respite but says if the conditions are right—a nice mild day, a good snowfall, and some free time—another sculpture may well appear.

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