The B.C. Lottery Corporation is finally succumbing to the stress and pressure that emanated from the tiring court trips and inquiry on the battle to keep secret records linked to $700, 000 fine imposed on them by FINTRAC. President of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association expressed his horrific feeling about how getting access to that kind of record was becoming difficult. Though FINTRAC’s audit report kept the reason for finding BCLC in violation of a secret but a report into money laundering written by RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German two years ago, confirmed the fine was linked to deficiencies in more than 1,285 reports. After the CBC filed a freedom of information request to obtain the records, which BCLC opposed, the CBC took the case to the freedom of information commissioner, and in a pair of rulings, the office ordered that the records should be released. While BCLC was fighting FINTRAC’s fine in Federal Court, it quickly petitioned the B.C. Supreme Court to overturn the commissioner’s ruling, a situation that made the CBC eventually withdrew from the case.
Even though the proceeding of the face-off between FINTRAC and BCLC ended in favor of BCLC as FINTRAC withdrew its case after citing that BCLC was meeting its legal requirements to file money laundering reports properly, the CBC yet had no access to any of the records. This made CBC refile a request for the records — to BCLC and the Ministry of the Attorney General in 2018. The ministry did release some records, but any information of interest was redacted. BCLC also cited harm to law enforcement, solicitor-client privilege and interface with government relations as reasons for not releasing the records and it also habitually cited the confidentiality order obtained from the Federal Court back in 2012.
Now with another hearing before the freedom of information commission coming up, the B.C. Lottery Corporation says it will ask the Federal Court to lift the confidentiality order over the records. It’s not known when the hearing will take place, so there is no date set for the release of the documents. “If it wasn’t an organization like CBC pursuing this, it wouldn’t have been pursued. It’s frustrating the system requires this immense allocation of resources to push against government secrecy.