Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Play Now's six-figure fraud

Remember when B.C. Lottery Corporation re-launched is Play Now sports and poker website on July 15, 2010?

There was a glitzy news conference on Granville Island by the taxpayer-owned legal gambling monopoly. On-again, off-again, on-again gambling minister Rich Coleman did a disappearing act to avoid a media scrum. Did he know something we didn't? Later that day, the website crashed amid an embarrassing privacy breach

Fast forward to 2012 and Play Now had more problems. This time, it wasn't a malfunction of the system. A briefing note to Coleman disclosed a case of credit card fraud. 
"BCLC security has found a total of 12 fraudulent accounts opened between March 13 and 18, and at least six additional failed attempts to open accounts. A total of $100,329 was loaded into the 12 accounts through 67 different transactions. BCLC locked down all 12 accounts once they were identified. The suspect(s) attempted to load the accounts with about 100 different stolen credit cards and three Interac cards – they were successful with 19 of the credit cards and two of the Interac cards."
The briefing note makes a possible link to a major Burnaby RCMP fraud and identity theft bust. The Mounties showed-off the contraband on March 20, 2012 and announced charges against Anthony Pavos Stulec, who was found guilty of forgery, theft and fraud.

Regardless, this incident was a blow to BCLC and its marketing claim that Play Now is not only legal but safe. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Some people had millions of reasons to say "congrats Christy"

After winning the May 14 provincial election by surprise, Premier Christy Clark's email box runneth over. There were those unhappy with the result. And there were those who were ecstatic. Read the whole bunch here

Many of those wishing Clark well had millions of reasons to do so. They had either done business with the government or had benefitted from millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies. 
Jain (left) and Clark at TOIFA

Jain's diction:

A May 17 letter from Vineet Jain, the managing director of the Times of India Group is an ideal example of the latter.

Jain sat beside Clark at B.C. Place Stadium during the Times of India Film Awards on April 6. He was smiling ear to ear for good reason. Clark gave his company a $9.5 million no-bid contract to produce the Bollywood awards extravaganza.

Jain wrote: "TOIFA was a rewarding, enriching and memorable experience for everyone involved -- celebrities, dignitaries, guests and the people of British Columbia and I commend your vision and conviction in making this possible." 

BC Liberals called it a trade promotion; the rest of us called it a re-election ploy. It would be nice to know where all our money went and who in Canada and India benefitted. Despite Freedom of Information requests, the Liberals aren't in a rush to show us. Maybe the auditor general or another agency will step in to try and extract the answers. 

Flag on the field: 

B.C. Lions president Dennis Skulsky's email starts: "Good morning Premier Clark, Wow it sounds good and feels good to say that." Then he deserves a 10-yard penalty for misspelling the Premier's first name ("Christie"). Skulsky, Lions' owner David Braley and others from the CFL club were donors to the Liberal campaign. The government earmarked $2.7 million through B.C. Pavilion Corporation for the Lions to buy the rights to the 2014 Grey Cup. 

Blacktop politics:

Repeat after me: Roads and bridges and tunnels. Promise them and build them. Even if your predecessor did the promising, make sure you show up and look good at the ribbon-cutting. B.C.'s tradition of blacktop politics to win voters' hearts with their own pocketbooks is a surefire formula and allows B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association president Jack Davidson to keep his members happy. On Sept. 20, Clark announced the Massey Tunnel would be replaced with a bridge... but she didn't tell us how much it would cost or how it would be financed. 

Ni hao:

China's Consul General Liu Fei offered greetings from the Chinese government, including Gov. Zhu Xiaodan of Guangdong Province. 


Pacific Western Brewing owner Kazuko Komatsu sent her congratulations. Her company's products include Pacific Pilsner, Cariboo and Scandal Ale. The Prince George company is a well-known donor to the BC Liberals (and wrote some cheques to the NDP, too) and even got a huge tax break that ruffled big and small brewers. 

You can't be sure:

Shell Canada president Lorraine Mitchelmore's congratulations letter was gutted by government censors. "Not responsive," says most of the letter. 

Mr. Sincerity: 

Then there is this letter from B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair. Close your eyes and imagine a grown man at a computer keyboard, with a tear running down his cheek, landing in his moustache. 

Sinclair and the BC Fed were with Adrian Dix and the NDP every step of the way and helped fill the party coffers. Then it all went wrong on May 14 and he had to write a face-saving, pride-swallowing letter on behalf of his members (who didn't all vote NDP). 

"On behalf of the B.C. Federation of Labour, I would like to congratulate you on your successful campaign to be elected to a second term as the Premier of British Columbia," wrote Sinclair. 

Well, it really is her first term. Clark was chosen by her party in February 2011 to serve the remainder of Gordon Campbell's 2009-won third term.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

#LiquorLeaks wonders: what is the booze review endgame?

Parliamentary Secretary John Yap -- yes, the same Freedom of Information-subverting John Yap who quit cabinet amid the Quick Wins scandal -- pushed the button on a glitzy website and social media campaign on Sept. 14 to elicit public opinion on changes to B.C. liquor laws.

The cash-strapped BC Liberal government is desperately seeking to cut costs and increase revenue, and the Liberals think booze can help it tick both boxes. While the Legislature stays dark for the fall because Premier Christy Clark would rather not face Question Period, the ruling party is exploiting the eternally divisive debate over liquor policy to help divert attention from political minefields, like troubled BC Hydro and its imminent rate hikes. 

Yap will be reporting recommendations by the end of November to Attorney General/liquor minister Suzanne Anton, who is quietly plotting the transformation of the Liquor Distribution Branch into a Crown agency or corporation. Every other province has such a body, either as a standalone organization or merged with its lotteries and gambling monopoly. 

More changes are coming to LDB. On Sept. 13, LDB quietly confirmed that it contracted Sedlak Management Consultants of Cleveland, Ohio to create the business case for moving out of the Vancouver Main Distribution Centre and into a new warehouse somewhere in the Lower Mainland. Sedlak’s website says it has worked closely with BC Liberal-connected Exel -- the same company that lobbied for privatization for seven years

Eighteen companies responded to the supply chain management expert request for proposals and the list is below. But LDB won’t disclose the names of the two companies on the shortlist with Sedlak and its explanation why is vague.  

What is the endgame for this whole exercise, especially the contracting of Sedlak, a company that makes no secret of its connection to Exel? Perhaps a second sip of privatization? Read my analysis in The Tyee here.
LDB hires supply chain management expert to help find a new main warehouse location 
Successful Proponent:
·         Sedlak Management Consultants, Inc. 

Unsuccessful Proponents:
·         BizTechMasters Inc.
·         CGI Information Systems and Management Consultants Inc.
·         CGR Management Consultants, LLC
·         Deloitte Inc.
·         Devencore Company Ltd. dba Newmark Knight Frank Devencore
·         IBM Canada Ltd.
·         KOM International Inc.
·         KPMG LLP
·         Kurt Salmon Canada Ltd.
·         LIDD Consultants Inc.
·         Metro Supply Chain Group
·         Protiviti Inc.
·         PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
·         Sierra Systems Group Inc.
·         Stantec Consulting Ltd.
·         Tompkins Associates, Inc.
·         Trybec Management Services, Inc

Blog Archive