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HomeBusinessExclusive: $30.5M B.C. lottery winner gets to stay anonymous

Exclusive: $30.5M B.C. lottery winner gets to stay anonymous

Bob Mackin

We may never know who bought the lucky Lotto 6/49 winning ticket at the Westwood Plateau IGA supermarket more than three years ago.

In a decision handed down Oct. 13, a B.C. Information and Privacy Commission adjudicator ruled that the man who won $30,531,740.40 on April 25, 2018 can stay anonymous.

IGA store in Coquitlam’s Westwood sold a Lotto 6/49 winning ticket in 2018 (Westwood)

theBreaker.news had applied under the freedom of information law to learn the name and hometown of the winner, after the Crown corporation took the unusual step of hiding the winner’s identity.

theBreaker.news unsuccessfully argued in a written inquiry that transparency is vital to guard the integrity of lottery games and cited the Ombudsperson’s 2007 report on suspicious prize payouts to lottery ticket retailers. Erosion of public trust could reduce lottery revenue and ultimately harm the community arts and sports groups that rely on grants from annual BCLC profits.

Submissions from a lawyer with the Hunter Litigation firm hired by BCLC said BCLC does not pay major prize claims until an investigation to inspect and authenticate the winning ticket, and interview the ticket holder. In some cases, BCLC reviews surveillance camera footage from the ticket vendor.

Major lottery winner’s affidavit.

In this case, before the investigation, the third party wrote to BCLC asking to remain anonymous.

“The third party was concerned that, if they were publicly identified as the winner of the prize, members of their family would be at risk of kidnapping, extortion or other crimes designed to exact a ransom from the third party,” Jay Fedorak wrote. “The third party is an immigrant with extended family remaining in their country of origin. They asserted that it was common in that country for people of wealth to be subject to kidnapping or other forms of extortion or ransom.”

The winner, who was represented by lawyer George Cadman, claimed it was common in his country of origin for wealthy people to be subject to kidnapping or other forms of extortion or ransom. The country of origin and other personal details were censored from the copy of his affidavit provided to theBreaker.news. The affidavit says the winner is now retired. 

Fedorak ruled anonymity would prevail because disclosure of the winner’s name would be harmful to individual safety and be an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy.

“Transparency and accountability require the public to see when the public bodies are following policy, procedures and law, as well as when they are not. For example, the public cannot be sure that the total number of cases of fraud correspond to only those cases that the public body has publicized, unless it has access to information about the other cases,” he wrote.

“That there might be good reasons to keep the information confidential in this case does not invalidate the argument that disclosure would be desirable for purposes of accountability. Both considerations can apply in the same case. The issue then becomes to determine which consideration carries more weight.”

Ultimately, Fedorak gave more weight to the jackpot winner and the lottery corporation.

He relied on affidavits from BCLC investigator Kris Gade and retired 32-year RCMP veteran Calvin Chrustie, who is now a security consultant.

BCLC hired Chrustie to provide a general security risk and threat assessment, but his report did not include an assessment of the winner himself. theBreaker.news argued that the lack of polygraph test or independent investigation of the jackpot winner’s business and personal life in Canada or his previous country were major omissions. 

The inquiry came after Chrustie’s March 29 testimony at the Cullen Commission on money laundering in B.C. Chrustie described how Chinese triads, Mexican drug cartels and Middle Eastern terrorists moved drugs and cash through Vancouver. He testified that he is a friend of BCLC chief operating officer Brad Desmarais, a former Mountie.

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