Commissioner Austin Cullen listens to introductions before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Commissioner Austin Cullen listens to introductions before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Ex-lottery VP testifies money laundering ‘politically charged,’ gets emotional

Robert Kroeker latest to speak at a public inquiry in B.C.’s probe into money laundering

A former executive with British Columbia’s lottery corporation became emotional Tuesday after two days of testimony at a public inquiry into money laundering.

Robert Kroeker took several moments to compose himself but his voice still cracked with emotion when he was asked to describe his experience as a focal point in B.C.’s probe into money laundering.

Kroeker, who was fired as vice-president of corporate compliance in 2019, spent much of his testimony explaining what the Crown corporation knew about illegal cash circulating at casinos and what was being done to prevent it.

“You are not a floor manager. You are not on the business side of casinos. You are not wining and dining high rollers,” said Marie Henein, Kroeker’s lawyer. “That’s not what you do. You’ve spent your life in compliance and trying to deal with money laundering and making casinos secure places in B.C.”

Kroeker’s voice cracked as he tried to describe the impact of allegations that the lottery corporation did not act on large amounts of illegal cash at casinos.

“It’s been devastating, not being able to respond, particularly when I was at the corporation, and especially for my team,” said the former RCMP officer. “They’re professionals and to see them continually attacked and maligned, it’s really unfair.”

Former gaming investigator Larry Vander Graaf, who is also a former Mountie, told the commission last November that the B.C. Lottery Corp. did not move quickly enough to protect the integrity of gaming from organized crime more than a decade ago.

Vander Graaf, the former executive director of the province’s gaming policy branch, testified that large amounts of suspicious cash started to appear at B.C. casinos in 2007 and by 2010, loan sharks were circulating nearby parking lots with bags of money believed to be from proceeds of crime.

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

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

“Certainly by this point BCLC knew there was a concern around the cash being brought into casinos being proceeds of crime,” B.C. government lawyer Jacqueline Hughes asked Kroeker.

“Yes, for sure,” said Kroeker.

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

The Ministry of Attorney General said in a statement on Monday that Eby would not comment on evidence or proceedings while the commission is underway.

But in a statement on Tuesday, the ministry said “this government’s actions to tackle financial crime in B.C. speaks for itself.”

Kroeker testified Tuesday that the money laundering issue in B.C. had become “politically charged” and was used by the two main 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 outlined how hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash affected the province’s real estate, luxury vehicles and gaming sectors.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

money laundering

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

(Black Press file photo)
Charges laid against two suspects in pre-Christmas home invasion

An 88-year-old woman was hospitalized after being bear-sprayed in the face Dec. 18, 2020

Liam and Tyler Spaans, (L-R), are two of the current lifeguards at the Houston Leisure Facility. (Houston Leisure Services file photo)
Leisure facility anticipates need for lifeguards

Has been challenged in the past

Residents rank snow removal as a high priority within District boundaries. (Houston Today file photo)
Road work and snow removal ranked as important in citizen survey

But residents also expressed dissatisfaction with each

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing escalates to stabbing in Nanaimo

Victim, struck with coffee cup and then stabbed, suffers minor injuries; suspect arrested

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

Most Read