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Ontario Lottery chief fired

Mar 24, 2007, 6:12 am

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Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation

The head of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation was dismissed from the scandal-plagued organization on Friday, according to CBC News.

CEO Duncan Brown was escorted out of the lottery corporation's offices in Toronto, two sources told the CBC, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Repeated calls to officials at the lottery corporation went unanswered Friday.

The dismissal follows allegations that several lottery clerks stole winning tickets from unsuspecting customers and cashed in millions of dollars in prizes themselves.

The allegations came to light in the fall, when CBC's The Fifth Estate told the story of Bob Edmonds, an 82-year-old Ontario man who sued the lottery corporation in 2005. Edmonds, from the town of Coboconk, alleges he won $250,000, but his prize was fraudulently claimed at his local corner store.

The lottery corporation settled with Edmonds, paying him $100,000. He signed a confidentiality agreement as part of the deal.

At the time The Fifth Estate program aired, Brown said he didn't necessarily accept the claims the program was making.

On March 14, a second investigation by The Fifth Estate revealed the lottery corporation has been dealing with insider fraud cases for at least four years.

The Fifth Estate obtained a leaked document that showed in 2003 alone, the lottery corporation was investigating six lottery claims made by clerks that seemed suspicious. One of the cases involved Edmonds.

The resignation of Brown follows a lengthy investigation by Ombudsman André Marin into allegations that more than 200 ticket retailers or clerks have won prizes of more than $50,000 in the past seven years.

Mr. Marin is set to release his report on Monday.

In an e-mail sent to employees yesterday, Mr. Brown said he appreciates their response to the challenges the corporation faced in recent months.

"We have had our share of criticism — some of it thoughtful and constructive — which has served to make us better today," the e-mail says.

Mr. Brown agreed to resign at the urging of the government, according to a friend of the executive's who asked not to be named.

"He's the fall guy," the friend said.

The Ombudsman said when he launched his probe last October that the allegations involving insider wins have "cast a large shadow" over the lottery corporation and "brought into question its actions."

Mr. Marin said he was concerned about the lottery corporation's initial defensiveness and by the government's refusal to appoint an independent investigator. The government left it up to the corporation to conduct its own review of the allegations.

Bill Rutsey, president of the Canadian Gaming Association, said it's "really too bad" Brown has been let go.

Brown is "a superior person and an excellent CEO," Rutsey said Friday.

Brown is being "held to account" for events alleged to have occurred before he became head of the lottery corporation, Rutsey said. "It's a tough world at that level."

The lottery corporation posted two security-related jobs on its website on Friday.

One was seeking a senior investigations manager who would manage the OLGC's investigation department provincewide.

The manager would "ensure OLG retailers are in compliance with the Criminal Code of Canada, OLG Act, as well as all other regulations, policies and procedures pertaining to OLG's operations," the posting said.

The other listing posted Friday seeks an investigator "to carry out a wide range of investigations relating to individuals or companies doing or seeking to do business with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation."

Lottery retailers in B.C. and Nova Scotia have also come under scrutiny for the amount of winnings they have claimed.

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