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On March 27, in two world capitals, two British Columbians appeared before parliamentary committees and revealed Victoria’s secrets. 

In Ottawa, NDP Attorney General David Eby appealed for federal government help to crack down on money laundering in B.C. casinos and the province’s real estate market. Eby’s predecessors in the BC Liberals turned a blind eye as the lucre rolled in from China. 

In London, data scientist Christopher Wylie explained the role that AggregateIQ played in elections on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The company, formed by BC Liberal Zack Massingham and federal Liberal Jeff Silvester, worked with the BC Greens in 2016 and Todd Stone’s failed BC Liberal leadership campaign in 2018. Wylie described AggregateIQ as a “franchise” of Cambridge Analytica and questioned its ethics. AIQ is under investigation in both the U.K. and B.C.  

On this edition of theBreaker.news Podcast, hear key excerpts from Eby and Wylie’s testimony. 

Also on this edition, a commentary on greedy Metro Vancouver politicians voting themselves a pension and a nod to those who are making Easter, and the rest of the year, better for cute and fluffy animals. 

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theBreaker.news Podcast: Mr. Eby goes to Ottawa, Mr. Wylie goes to Westminster
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On March 27, in two world capitals,

Bob Mackin

On March 24, AggregateIQ, the Victoria firm described by whistleblower Christopher Wylie as a “franchise” of Cambridge Analytica, published this statement on its website:

AggregateIQ is a digital advertising, web and software development company based in Canada. It is and has always been 100% Canadian owned and operated. AggregateIQ has never been and is not a part of Cambridge Analytica or SCL. Aggregate IQ has never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica. Chris Wylie has never been employed by AggregateIQ.

AggregateIQ works in full compliance within all legal and regulatory requirements in all jurisdictions where it operates. It has never knowingly been involved in any illegal activity. All work AggregateIQ does for each client is kept separate from every other client.

When he testified before a House of Commons committee in London on March 27, Wylie, who hails from Victoria, called those “weasel words” that were “technically true.”

Read the documents below and you will very likely agree.

Documents include: a list of AIQ’s key team members — CEO and project manager Zack Massingham, director and project technical lead Jeff Silvester, database administrator Christopher Shannon, and developers Koji Pourseyed and Taylor Leigh (page 9); a $575,000 services agreement between Cambridge Analytica – SCL Elections Ltd. and AIQ for the design and development of the Ripon engagement platform system for the Republican Party (page 10); an email from Massingham to Wylie (page 30); a US$200,000 contract between SCL Elections and AIQ for a project in Trinidad and Tobago (page 31); intellectual property license agreeement (page 60); technology subscription agreement between Dr. Aleksandr Kogan’s Global Science Research Ltd. and Alexander Nix’s SCL (page 67); a confidential memo to Rebekah Mercer, Steve Bannon and Alexander Nix (page 88). 

U.K. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham and British Columbia’s Acting Commissioner Drew McArthur are separately investigating AIQ, which performed work for the B.C. Green Party in 2016 and the failed BC Liberal leadership campaign of ex-Transportation Minister Todd Stone in 2018.

McArthur’s deputy and B.C.’s incoming information and privacy commissioner, Michael McEvoy, was seconded last September from the B.C. Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to work with Denham on the U.K. investigation. 

Neither Massingham nor Silvester have responded to theBreaker’s requests for comment. 

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Chris Wylie Written evidence.pdf by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin On March 24, AggregateIQ, the Victoria

Bob Mackin 

After tens of thousands of rugby sevens fans were done painting the town red earlier this month, B.C. Place Stadium crews turned False Creek pink. And then white. Literally.

Fiji defeated Kenya to win the third HSBC World Rugby Canada Sevens on March 11. Four days later, on March 15, Vancouver’s fire department was called about a mysterious pink discharge floating in False Creek. City staff confirmed that it was flowing from a storm sewer outfall and they traced the source to B.C. Place Stadium, where red was the dominant colour for midfield sponsor and event logos on the Polytan Ligaturf synthetic pitch. 

Canada finished 14th at Canada Sevens after losing to Samoa. Pitch paint from sponsor logos ended up in False Creek. (Bob Mackin)

“The material was observed to dissipate quickly and no material was observed collecting along the shoreline,” wrote city spokeswoman Ellie Lambert in a prepared statement. “The remaining material that had collected in the storm sewer was removed and discharged to the sanitary sewer. B.C. Place is investigating how the discharge occurred [and] is working collaboratively with the city.”

A day later, on March 16, there was a second discharge. This time it was white. 

“City crews attended this discharge and residual material removed from the storm sewer system,” Lambert said. “B.C. Place is investigating how both discharges occurred and believe that both discharges resulted from similar causes. As noted, the city is following up with BC Place to ensure that remedial action is taken to avoid future occurrences.”

The material was TempLine Original, a field-marking paint from Seattle-based EcoChemical. B.C. Place spokeswoman Laura Ballance said the paint is designed for both artificial turf and natural grass fields. 

“With outdoor fields the paint washes away over time, and outdoor turf fields are built above storm drains and the paint slowly washes away,” Ballance told theBreaker. “At B.C. Place, the field is also built above drains but they actually extract the paint and then wash the turf when they change out the logos and lines for different events.”

Red paint was applied heavier than normal, she said. When the marking was eradicated, some of the residual paint went out with the water.  

Boaters are banned from dumping oil, sewage and waste into False Creek. Vancouver city hall wants to make the waterway safe for swimming this summer, which could be easier said than done.

False Creek East had the worst e-coli count on every Vancouver Coastal Health water quality report in 2017. It is the only beach area with a “not a swimming/bathing beach” and “wash hands and shower if you touch the water” warning. 

Canada Sevens returns to B.C. Place in 2019, as organizers are bidding for another four-year contract. The Canada Women’s Sevens are May 12-13 in Langford, near Victoria. 

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Bob Mackin  After tens of thousands of rugby

Bob Mackin

The expert review of money laundering at Lower Mainland casinos isn’t restricted to what goes on around poker tables and one-armed bandits.

When Attorney General David Eby appeared before a House of Commons finance committee on March 27, he tabled a summary of Peter German’s report, which is due this week. 

The University of B.C. law professor — a former RCMP deputy commissioner for Western Canada — urges new reporting requirements for a variety of sectors and a reorganization of the agency that tracks financial transactions. 

B.C. Attorney General Eby in Ottawa, March 27.

In his summary, German called FinTRAC “an outlier” among the world’s financial intelligence units. Some 100,000 businesses and financial institutions must report large cash transactions and suspicious cash transactions to FinTRAC. Casinos must also report cash disbursements. FinTRAC analyzes millions of reports received annually and often shares intelligence with police and other agencies, but it does not work hand-in-hand with law enforcement. 

“Law enforcement is not permitted to work within its offices. This is largely due to privacy and Charter concerns,” German wrote. “By contract, Fincen, the FIU in the United States, is staffed by law enforcement and other specialists. To a certain extent, Canadian police and FinTRAC work with blinders on, not knowing who has or needs what information until a proactive disclosure or a request for information is made.”

German also wrote that it is ironic that notaries public fall under FinTRAC reporting requirements, but lawyers do not.

“The absence of reporting by lawyers is a significant impediment to police investigations involving the movement of money through real estate and other financial sectors,” German wrote.

“Canada is an outlier here as well. Other common law jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, have robust provisions in place which require financial reporting by lawyers. Quite frankly, consultation has occurred for years. There is a real need for legislation which can withstand a Charter challenge and requires the reporting of monies held in lawyer trust accounts.”

German’s summary said the prevalence of money laundering in the horse racing sector should be examined, and luxury items, such as supercars, should be subject to reporting. 

“Vancouver has been described as the number one super car city in North America. Also, auto dealers in Greater Vancouver are among the highest new and used luxury car dealers in Canada, by sales volume,” German wrote. “In essence, an individual can walk into a luxury auto dealership and purchase a high-end vehicle with $400,000 cash. The only obstacle will be dealership policies.”

He also urged greater regulation of money service businesses. Although they must register with FinTRAC, only those in Quebec fall under provincial licensing. 

“Many MSBs are unregistered and exist as a fixture within the underground economy. They tend to be the modern embodiment of underground banking and serve to move money around the world without the need for actual transmission. In place of electronic transfer, they rely on a settling of accounts at both ends of a transaction, or app to app, as it is sometimes called.”

And, if German’s recommendations are acted upon, there could be renewed oversight for mortgage and title insurers, land registries and non-federally regulated mortgage lenders. The buck starts and stops with land and construction. 

“It has been said that, ‘everything in B.C. comes back to real estate.’ It has also been suggested that you can see a ‘rat move through all of it,’ meaning the real estate market, mortgages, insurance, and so forth.”

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Bob Mackin The expert review of money laundering

Bob Mackin

The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica whistleblower testified at a British parliamentary committee on March 27 that a Victoria company was deeply involved in the 2015 campaign against eventual Nigerian presidential election winner Muhammadu Buhari. 

Christopher Wylie alleged that AggregateIQ handled hacked information, kompromat and horrifying videos.

Christopher Wylie testifying to a U.K. Parliamentary committee on March 27.

“The videos that AggregateIQ distributed in Nigeria, with the sole intent of intimidating voters, included content where people were being dismembered, where people were having their throats cut and bled to death in a ditch,” Wylie told MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. “They were being burned alive. There was incredibly anti-Islamic and threatening messages portraying Muslims as violent.”

Wylie was asked about a March 24 statement published on the AggregateIQ website. The company called itself a 100% Canadian-owned and operated digital advertising, web and software developer that “has never been and is not a part of Cambridge Analytica or SCL.”

Wylie said “they’re using weasel words; that is all technically true.”

He said AIQ worked as a “franchise” of Cambridge Analytica through intellectual property agreements, and that it shared information with Cambridge Analytica. The overwhelming majority of AIQ projects and income, he said, came from Cambridge Analytica and SCL. Wylie pointed to AIQ’s work to build Cambridge Analytica’s “Ripon” voter identification database for the Republican Party’s 2016 campaign and said it “utilized the algorithms from the Facebook data.” He was referring to the data from 50 million Facebook users collected by Cambridge University professor Aleksandr Kogan.

“This is a company that has worked with hacked material,” said Wylie, a former Liberal Party of Canada caucus research contractor. “This is a company that will send out videos of people being murdered to intimidate voters. This is a company that goes out and tries to illicitly acquire live internet browsing data of everyone in an entire country. A lot of questions should be asked about the role of Aggregate IQ in this election and whether they were indeed compliant with the law here, beyond just spending infractions.”

Wylie also alleged that AIQ was “used as a proxy money-laundering vehicle” for the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 Brexit referendum. The company was paid $5.75 million, or 40% of the winning campaign’s spending. 

AggregateIQ co-founders Zack Massingham (left) and Jeff Silvester.

AIQ was founded in 2013 by Zack Massingham, from Mike de Jong’s 2011 leadership campaign, and Jeff Silvester, a former aide to MP Keith Martin. Neither Massingham nor Silvester responded to theBreaker.

Before the scandal broke in the United Kingdom, AIQ worked on the failed BC Liberal leadership campaign for ex-transportation minister Todd Stone. Almost 1,350 memberships were cancelled after party officials found AIQ registered domain names to create new email addresses that were designated to new party members recruited by the Stone campaign in Richmond and Surrey.  

Cambridge Analytica, SCL and AggregateIQ are under investigation in both the U.K. and Canada. British Columbia’s incoming information and privacy commissioner, Michael McEvoy, was seconded last September to work on the probe under his former B.C. boss, U.K. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

AggregateIQ’s website features an image of Victoria’s Inner Harbour and the B.C. Parliament Buildings.  

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Bob Mackin The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica whistleblower

Bob Mackin

Paul Fraser is British Columbia’s Conflict of Interest Commissioner who never found anyone had broken the rules, and the NDP government is keeping him around a little longer. 

A March 20 cabinet order, signed by Attorney General David Eby, named Fraser the acting conflict of interest commissioner as of April 5. Fraser was originally appointed as conflict of interest commissioner by the BC Liberals in 2007 and reappointed unanimously by NDP and Liberal members in 2012.

There is no replacement yet for Fraser. The Legislature’s Special Committee to Appoint a Members’ Conflict of Interest Commissioner last met behind closed doors on Feb. 28.

NDP cabinet order extending Paul Fraser’s tenure. (BC Gov)

A statement to theBreaker from Eby’s office said that Fraser “is the incumbent and therefore a logical choice for an acting appointment.” The appointment is valid for a maximum of 20 sitting days of the House. That would mean a new commissioner would be named by May 17 or the NDP cabinet would renew Fraser’s role as the acting commissioner for another 20 sitting days. And so on. 

“The committee has not released a position advertisement and deliberations continue at this time,” Kate Ryan-Lloyd, Deputy Clerk of the Legislature, told theBreaker.

 

Fraser’s Liberal-loyal son John Paul was Christy Clark’s $235,000-a-year deputy minister of government communications. The elder Fraser, whose job paid $276,000-a-year, donated $300 to the BC Liberals in 2006, on the same day as a $2,000 donation to the BC Liberals from Fraser Milner Casgrain, the law firm where he was a partner. 

Democracy Watch contested Paul Fraser’s 2016 decision to clear Clark of conflict of interest for her annual $50,000 party stipend raised from party donors. Democracy Watch alleged that Fraser was in conflict of interest, because of his son’s job. A B.C. Supreme Court judge said it was a matter for the Legislature, not the courts. 

The elder Fraser had cited his son’s job when he recused himself in 2012 from former BC Liberal MLA John van Dongen’s complaint about Clark’s links to the BC Rail privatization. 

Horgan rewards Holmwood, again

Jen Holmwood was among the NDP campaign workers rewarded with a communications job in Premier John Horgan’s office. The day of Horgan’s swearing-in was the same day Holmwood’s $110,000-a-year deputy communications director job was announced in a cabinet order. 

Horgan’s chief of staff Geoff Meggs (Twitter)

She got a raise on March 1, when another cabinet order set her salary level at “starting at $120,000 a year.” There was no change in her title. 

Horgan’s chief of staff, Geoff Meggs, told theBreaker that she is now responsible for the correspondence unit within the Premier’s Office.

“This is a substantial workload for Jen Holmwood, and we are happy that she has agreed to take on this new responsibility,” Meggs said by email. “Jen continues with her previous media relations duties as well.”

During the last year of Christy Clark’s premiership, the manager of the correspondence branch, Antoinetta DeWit, was paid $92,049. 

Spared from the speculation tax

Sighs of relief from both sides of the B.C. political spectrum when the NDP scrapped plans on March 26 to charge cabin owners on the Gulf Islands with the 0.5% speculation tax.

NDP president and North Vancouver city councillor Craig Keating owns a house on 5.226 acres of land, assessed at $363,000, on Galiano Island. On the same gulf island, Christy Clark and brother Bruce Clark have two properties worth a total $833,000 on 3.8 acres.

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Bob Mackin Paul Fraser is British Columbia’s Conflict

Bob Mackin

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner is performing an impression of French mime Marcel Marceau, after theBreaker learned that four real estate developers and a freight terminal sponsored her junket to a Cannes real estate convention. 

At its Feb. 5 meeting, Surrey city council voted to send Hepner to Les Marché International des Professionels de l’immoblier, aka MIPIM, the March 13-16 convention for 24,000 commercial real estate investors and retailers from 100 countries. 

Hepner speaking at a panel during the 2018 MIPIM real estate convention in Cannes (Invest Surrey)

Hepner was invited as a panel speaker, so organizers paid for her conference registration and three nights accommodation. Her entourage included Surrey investment and intergovernmental relations general manager Donna Jones, economic development manager Stephen Wu and economic investment strategist Khushboo Wanchoo. 

The budget for the trip was $58,000 for registration, exhibit booth, flights, hotels and per diems. A staff report to council said the net cost would be $11,000 after $47,000 in sponsorship. The names of the sponsors, however, were omitted from the report.

Jones told theBreaker that $50,000 was collected from sponsors Blackwood Partners, Century Group, Concord Pacific, Fraser Surrey Docks and Surrey City Development Corp. through last November’s inaugural Invest Surrey launchpad event. Jones declined to disclose how much each of the sponsors contributed. Instead, she told theBreaker to file a freedom of information request. 

“It’s entirely inappropriate for any politician at any level to be sponsored by real estate investors, companies or interests, at any point in time, let alone during a housing crisis,” said IntegrityBC’s Dermod Travis. “Was she there representing Surrey or the people that were paying the bulk of the tab?”

Concord is developing Park Boulevard near the King George SkyTrain station. The company’s CEO, Terry Hui, gave $4,000 to Hepner’s Surrey First election campaign in 2014. Century Group and the city-owned Surrey City Development Corp. are collaborating on the 3 Civic Plaza residential and hotel tower in Surrey City Centre. Blackwood owns the Central City complex and it had a presence at MIPIM. 

“Thank you for the opportunity, but Mayor Hepner is declining comment,” read an email from Hepner’s spokesman, Oliver Lum.

Said Travis: “Local politicians and some provincial politicians in the province have to get used to the new rules about transparency and accountability that came in for the rest of Canada in the 1970s and 1980s. If you don’t want to answer questions from the public, don’t run for public office.” 

SCDC CEO Michael Heeney was the only sponsor that responded to theBreaker. He said his agency made a single contribution of $7,500 and called MIPIM an excellent opportunity for Surrey to gain exposure at the world’s largest commercial property conference.

“It was also an opportunity for the city to learn and look at what other cities are doing to promote themselves on the world stage,” Heeney said. 

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Bob Mackin Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner is performing

Mega-events aren’t what they used to be.

The International Olympic Committee and FIFA used to be tickled pink by the number of countries that would line-up to bid for their marquee events.

The days of bidding wars are over. The Olympics and World Cup have become unwieldy to host and the organizations behind them are magnets for corruption. 

Earlier this month, four cities opted-out of the United Bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Nearly two dozen remain hopeful of being one of the 12 to 16 sites if FIFA chooses the joint United States/Canada/Mexico bid over its only opponent, Morocco, in June. British Columbia Premier John Horgan compared FIFA’s demands for a tax holiday, relaxed labour laws and free security in Vancouver to a “blank cheque.”

Meanwhile, Calgary is pondering a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. But some in the 1988 Winter Games host city are balking at the $2 million cost to hold a referendum. It would be a small price to pay to decide whether or not to spend billions. 

On this edition of theBreaker.news Podcast, host Bob Mackin interviews special guest Andrew Jennings, the British investigative journalist who exposed the dark side of the world’s biggest sporting events and introduced the world to the criminals behind the scenes.

Jennings is the author of Lords of the Rings: Power Money, Money and Drugs in the Modern Olympics and Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote-Rigging and Ticket Scandals. Jennings is delighted that cities are saying thanks, but no thanks to the IOC and FIFA. The ripple effects of Russian state-sponsored doping, alleged vote-buying for the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic bids, and FIFA’s systemic bribery and kickbacks continue to be felt. Jennings says the FBI is far from finished with FIFA. 

Listen to the podcast and hear Jennings tell Mackin about his novel solution to corruption at the highest levels of world sport. 

Also on this edition, a commentary on the latest chapter in British Columbia’s bizarro political history and a nod to those who are working to bring B.C. thugs to justice in Ontario.

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Mega-events aren't what they used to be. The

Bob Mackin

Abbotsford-raised Parmvir Singh Chahil will be back in a Brampton, Ont. courtroom March 26 for a bail hearing, after he was charged March 23 with the aggravated assault of an austic man at a shopping mall’s bus station in a Toronto suburb. 

Ronjot Singh Dhami (left) and Parmvir Singh Chahil, who are wanted by police for aggravated assault in Mississauga, Ont.

Three men were caught on surveillance video on the evening of March 13 kicking and punching a 29-year-old man who was seated at the bottom of stairs while he put on rollerblades. The victim suffered a broken nose and facial cuts in the vicious, six-second attack. 

Chahil, 21, was arrested early March 23 in Windsor, along with his mother, Hardip Kaur Padda, 44, and brother, Harmanvir Singh Chahil, 18. Padda and the younger Chahil were charged for accessory after the fact and released on a promise to appear in court in Windsor on May 2. 

Lawyer Amandeep S. Sidhu of Abbotsford is expected to represent Parmvir Chahil in the bail hearing.

Padda is still listed on the title for the house on Abbotsford’s Promontory Drive where Parmvir Chahil was a resident when innocent neighbour Ping Shun Ao, 75, was killed in a drive-by shooting in September 2015. Police believe Chahil was the intended target.

Parmvir Chahil’s Twitter page.

A Twitter account, @Parmchahil, was active in July 2014 with two Tweets that taunted an Abbotsford Police Department constable, under the image of blood-spattered guns.

Chahil arrived at the Brampton courthouse in the back seat of a police car and did his best to hide his face when the car was approached by photographers.

Peel Regional Police had obtained a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest, and the arrest of 25-year-old Ronjot Singh Dhami of Surrey. Police have not publicly identified the third man, who they believe is named Jason. 

Dhami’s lawyer, Jag Virk, has called his client innocent and said that he would surrender to police on March 26. A source said that Dhami had applied for an Ontario driver’s licence before the attack. 

Parmvir Chahil cowering in the back of a police car on March 26.

British Columbia court files show a Ranjot Singh Dhami, born in 1993, has several Motor Vehicle Act violations, an August 2011 conviction for assault with a weapon in Surrey and a June 2014 arrest in Kelowna on charges of possession for the purpose of drug trafficking.

In December 2016, a Provincial Court judge ruled that Dhami’s Kelowna arrest was unlawful. Judge Peter Rogers, however, said in his ruling “there is no doubt” that, while in police cells, Dhami expelled 23 bags containing crack cocaine, 23 bags of fentanyl and seven bags of heroin from his rectum.

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Bob Mackin Abbotsford-raised Parmvir Singh Chahil will be