Union, advocate stunned by BCLC Asking for $500K to reveal money laundering details

The B.C. Lottery Corporation has made a casino workers' union stunned by asking for an amount of $500,000 for freedom of information request it received. Unite Here’s Marc Hollin asked for communication worth five years between Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and the lottery corporation. Hollin's request was on communication regarding compliance with the anti-money laundering norms.

A freedom of information analyst of Lottery Corporation replied to CBC that the work would take up estimated 16,817 hours and the cost will amount of $504,480. BCLC wanted the half of amount to be paid by union before beginning the work. Hollin opines that the fee estimate of BCLC for Freedom of Information request is outrageously high. The public has a fundamental right to gain access to information, including documents on anti-money laundering compliance practiced in the Canadian casinos.

Both the BCLC and David Eby, the Attorney General refused to react on the ongoing FOI request of Unite Here. The lottery corporation, however said only a small percent of FOI requests are made to them with a fee. When BCLC receives the FOI requests requiring extensive time the FOI team assists FOI applicants to conduct a better targeted search, prior to fee assessment. David Eby reportedly ordered a review into money laundering at BC casinos back in September 2017.

A government transparency advocate, Vincent Gogolek, said Unite Here's request needs time and is broad in nature but the amount of money demanded is dubious. This is among the highest FOI bills coming from government bodies. He said the amount is suspicion inducing.

Under the Freedom of Information and Personal Privacy Act, BLCC and such public bodies may charge an FOI applicant in case request for records consumes over 3 hours for completion. The fees may be waived in case the request is related to matters of public interest such as public health, environment and safety.

Hollin says he thinks BCLC might waive the fee request. Gogolek feels Unite Here may appeal the fee demands further to privacy commissioner of B.C. However, scope for reduction of fee is there.

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