A millionaire casino boss in Canada has been charged with misleading authorities after he and his wife posed as motel workers in order to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Rodney Baker, CEO of the Great Canadian Gaming Corp, and his actress wife Ekaterina flew by private jet from Vancouver to the village of Beaver Creek – which has a population of just 90 people – in the remote territory of Yukon.
Ignoring strict quarantine rules, Baker and his wife left their vehicle only to request the vaccine, claiming they were motel staff that worked nearby.
In Yukon, vaccinations are readily available and the individual does not have to present ID that proves his or her address to receive the jab.
The local Minister of Community Services, John Streicker, told reporters that the pair were only halted when they told residents of Beaver Creek that they were heading straight for the airport after receiving their vaccination. “And people were like, ‘well, why would you be going to the airport?” he said.
Growing ever suspicious, villagers called the motel that the Bakers claimed to work at, and after learning that their claims were fraudulent local authorities managed to apprehend the duo before they flew home from Whitehorse airport.
However, due to the fairly amenable laws regarding the duping of authorities, the Bakers were fined $900 CAD each – around £520. Not bad for a man said to be worth around $50 million CAD.
“Effectively what they did was they put our community and our isolation team at risk,” Streicker said to CBC News.
“I’m pretty angry at the whole thing.”
More Bad Press for Beleaguered Firm
After being reported in the press, Baker – who earns in excess of $10 million CAD a year – immediately resigned from his role at the Great Canadian Gaming Corp, which owns 25 casinos, entertainment facilities, racetracks and licensed venues across the North American country. Those include Hard Rock Vancouver, River Rock Casino Resort and Casino Nanaimo.
This is not the first time that the company’s name has been connected to a highly contentious issue, and in 2020 the Great Canadian Gaming Corp was investigated by the authorities for alleged money laundering breaches.
And even in January 2021, the firm is embroiled in a court case which suggests their properties – principally the River Rock Casino in Richmond – has been used, allegedly, as a base for so-called drug-cash laundering and illegal loan sharking.
When investigating, officials from British Columbia’s Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch claimed that money laundering among Chinese visitors to the firm’s casinos would reach $200 million a year if unchecked, and the former compliance manager of the River Rock Casino – Robert Kroeker – and former general manager Rick Duff both confirmed that Great Canadian Gaming Corp chiefs were concerned that authorities would find out the true nature of the high rollers from China that would frequent the venue. Some of these VIPs were wagering as much as $100k per blackjack hand.
In December 2020, Apollo Global Management made a bid of $3.3 billion to take over the beleaguered company, whose earnings have been hit in the wake of casinos closures across Canada.