B.C. Liberal whitewash of Lottery CEO conflict not acceptable

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VANCOUVER – The B.C. Liberal attempt to whitewash the departing B.C. Lottery Corporation CEO’s clear conflict of interest and golden deal on the taxpayers’ dime is not acceptable, say the New Democrats.

“An internal Liberal government audit shows what any thoughtful person already knew: that Michael Graydon acted in clear conflict of interest when he negotiated a deal with his new employer, an affiliate of Paragon Gaming, starting two months before he told the BCLC board,” said New Democrat gaming critic Shane Simpson. “And when Graydon left his position, he was awarded approximately $125,000 in severance and vacation pay and performance bonuses, and was given his government laptop, iPhone, and iPad. This all happened when arguably he should have been fired with cause.”

It is against the government’s own rules to give severance pay to an employee who quits their job, Simpson added.

“Despite the findings of the audit, the Liberals have no interest in trying to recoup the money or the devices. That isn’t acceptable. Everyone saw this conflict except BCLC and the B.C. Liberal government. Now we know that someone in a clear conflict was paid generously for quitting and even allowed to keep his government-owned computer equipment. This was bungled by the Liberals from start to finish. The real question is: was this incompetence, negligence or a bit of both?”

The audit also found that the access to information was not promptly shut down on Graydon’s devices. For 10 days, Graydon, then the employee of a private gaming corporation, had unfettered access to BCLC’s information. He was also instructed to have no communications with BCLC for 90 days, a condition he breached.

“We know the lottery corporation’s board of directors bungled this. But the Liberal cabinet is no better: a similar circumstance happened in 2006 when former BCLC chair T. Richard Turner left his position and became a director at Paragon B.C., less than seven months later. Turner then lobbied BCLC for Paragon. But the Liberals put no changes in place, and here we go again,” said Simpson.

Simpson said British Columbians deserve more than promises to do better in future.

“This is unacceptable and the minister needs to tell us who will be held accountable for this mess.”