Ontario lottery board resigns amid spending scandal
The board of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation resigned en masse Monday as lavish expense claims by senior executives at the troubled agency surfaced.
A report in the National Post said that over the last two years senior staff at the government-owned corporation billed taxpayers for, among other things: expensive bottles of wine, a Weight Watchers membership, babysitters, luggage replacement, credit card fees, and a cloth grocery bag, according to documents released by the province.
Gone are CEO Kelly McDougald and board members Michael Gough, who served as chairman, Ronald Fotheringham, Marlene McGraw, Debi Rosati, Michelle Samson-Doel and Beverly Topping.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said the positions have been filled on an interim basis by senior officials from other government agencies.
“We are taking action today to ensure the protection of taxpayer's money and increase the accountability of the organization,” Mr. Duncan said at a Toronto news conference.
He said the auditor general has been asked to conduct a review of the OLG’s expense practices, including the approvals process.
The corporation has been rocked by a series of embarrassing promotions, scandals and allegations of fraud over the past several years.
They included the case of Bob Edmonds, an Ontario man who was cheated out of a $250,000 lottery prize by a convenience store clerk who kept the prize for herself. The OLG failed to act on Edmonds’s complaint and he finally sued. That case prompted an investigation by Ontario’s ombudsman, who found OLG regularly turned a blind eye to fraudulent behavior by its retailers. Between 1999 and 2007, the ombudsman found 247 major lottery wins ranging between $50,000 and $12.5 million by lottery retailers, their employees and their families and OLG employees.
Earlier this year, OLG released an audit showing it has paid out more than $198 million to insiders since 1995, roughly twice the amount the provincial ombudsman initially suspected.
The scandals prompted the exit of several high-level executives as well as the former CEO Duncan Brown.
In March, the OLG offered 22 foreign-built automobiles as prizes for a springtime promotion, which came as North American auto producers fought for their lives amid the worst economic downturn in decades. The company later said it regretted the decision.