Canada

Police not investigating B.C. official linked to Hastings Racecourse worker arrests

Police not investigating B.C. official linked to Hastings Racecourse worker arrests

Vancouver police and RCMP say they are not involved in an investigation into a B.C. gaming official who issued credentials to foreign workers at Hastings Racecourse.

That’s despite allegations of the official collecting hundreds of dollars from those workers for false licences, which drew the attention of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Seven backstretch workers were arrested by CBSA agents on Monday in a raid that also saw more than a dozen other workers detained and questioned before being released.

The province confirmed Thursday the arrests stemmed from an internal investigation by the province’s gaming policy and enforcement branch (GPEB) into one of its own investigators, who they believe facilitated racetrack licences without proper work authorization.

The lawyer who represented the seven workers at their mandatory review hearings on Wednesday said she was told the workers paid between $600 and $1,000 for the licences, believing they would also grant them legal work status in Canada.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. The CBSA will not confirm whether the B.C. official is being investigated, or whether charges are being considered.

WATCH: (Aug. 21) New developments in arrests at Hastings Racecourse

On Friday, the CBSA made clear its investigation was focused on the workers who were employed at the racetrack without proper authorization — not the official who issued those licences.

“The CBSA conducts investigations into foreign nationals and permanent residents when available information suggests a person may be inadmissible to Canada,” the agency said in a statement.

“The CBSA investigates not only criminality, but persons who do not comply with terms and conditions imposed if they are students, foreign workers or visitors.”

When asked if its mandate could also include Canadian citizens, the CBSA said it was possible but would not elaborate further.

CBSA said it was alerted to the improper work authorizations in June, after information was referred to them by GPEB.

But the Ministry of Attorney General said Thursday it first received the complaint that launched the internal investigation at GPEB eight months earlier, in October 2018.

The ministry has confirmed the official “who is the subject of the CBSA investigation” does not have access to GPEB’s offices or government systems. The individual has not been named.

WATCH: (Aug. 20) CBSA makes multiple arrests at Hastings Racecourse

Global News has reached out to the ministry for further comment.

When asked what the official is being investigated for, the CBSA repeatedly said “it would be inappropriate” to provide further details for an ongoing investigation.

“The CBSA is bound by the parameters of the Privacy Act and a specific individual’s file with the CBSA is protected by these parameters,” the agency said in each case.

“In investigative cases, information does not become public unless charges are laid, and only at that time.”

Vancouver police said it is not involved in the investigation and would not speculate on whether they would become involved.

B.C. RCMP referred all questions regarding the investigation to CBSA.

With files from John Hua