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

The future of the Cache Creek pool is still up in the air as council ponders different options and cost considerations. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
No decision about whether Cache Creek pool will open in 2021

Council still discussing pool’s future; no date set for public meeting about its fate

More people at home during the pandemic is probably one of the reasons for a spike in water usage in Ashcroft in 2020. (Photo credit: Pixabay)
Ashcroft residents urged to conserve water after usage spike in 2020

Water consumption in 2020 increased by 14 per cent over previous year

Sandbagging materials outside an Emergency Operations Centre in Cache Creek in April 2020, after flooding prompted several evacuation alerts and orders in the community. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Cache Creek council asks for more info about alert system

Decision about joining emergency notification system deferred to next meeting

The Thompson-Nicola Invasive Plant Program provides education and outreach about invasive plant species in the region and how to deal with them. (Photo credit: TNRD)
Cache Creek invited to join TNRD invasive plant program

Council notes from the meeting of Feb. 15

B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix wore pink shirts to showcase this year’s motto: “Lift each other up.” (Twitter/PinkShirtDay)
PHOTOS: B.C. celebs take a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt Day

‘We need to let young people know they are not alone and they can reach out to others for help’

Justin Morissette is still recovering from the injuries sustained in the altercation. He is not yet able to walk without assistance. (Justin Morissette, Twitter)
B.C. man suing city and police over violent altercation with anti-LGBTQ preacher

Justin Morissette argues police knew the threat the preacher posed, and failed to keep the peace

Jack Barnes, who was Cowichan Valley Capitals property from May 2020 until last week, scores a goal for the Penticton Vees during the 2019-20 BCHL season. (Brennan Phillips/Black Press)
COVID-crunched BCHL facing trade deadline dilemma with its 20-year-olds

Hard decisions loom when BCHL may or may not resume play

UBC Okanagan students are among the most food insecure in Canada, according to a new study by UBC.
(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
UBC Okanagan students among most food insecure in Canada

42.3 per cent either can’t properly feed themselves, or are worried they will soon run out of money

Oliver Elementary School. (File)
Interior Health reports potential COVID-19 exposure at South Okanagan elementary school

Interior Health lists two dates for the potential exposure

Average response times for critical “purple” and “red” calls were between nine and 10 minutes Feb. 19 in Metro Vancouver, with only less critical “yellow” calls receiving an average response time of 45 minutes. The longer than usual delay was due to a combination of factors, BC Emergency Health Services said. (APBC image)
After a night of one-hour waits for ambulances, union goes public with concerns

B.C. Ambulance Service says high-priority calls were still 10 minutes or less

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Contributed to Kamloops This Week)
B.C. teen in turtleneck, lace-edged dress sent home from school for ‘inappropriate’ outfit

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson was told the lace on the garment made it look like a slip dress

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and former finance minister Carole James roll out “StrongerBC,” a $1.5 billion business support plan for COVID-19, eight months after the B.C. legislature approved the money and four days before a snap election call, Sept. 17, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 business grant fund still mostly unspent

$300 million pandemic assistance approved almost a year ago

Most Read