The skeletons hiding inside Atlantic Lottery Corp.’s (ALC) closet have finally been uncovered.
ALC officials are now under fire for living like royalties as they spend thousands of dollars on lavish dinners, throwing extravagant Christmas parties, and even showering generous perks to politicians.
All of these would have not been uncovered if not for the careful sleuthing conducted by four provincial auditors of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador into the management of the corporation, according to CBC News Nova Scotia.
Surprised by what they had found, Nova Scotia’s auditor general, Michael Pickup said most people would have trouble with that kind of expense.
So how much money did ALC wasted?
Based on the provincial auditors’ audit, ALC reportedly spent CAD111,000 (US$82,270.67) on staff Christmas parties over two years. It also said the corporation spent $640,000 (US$478,665.74) on board-approved Internet gaming, only to find shareholders eventually stopped participating in it.
They also questioned why ALC bought CAD68,000 (US$50858.23) worth of tickets for an AC/DC concert in Moncton, and another CAD14,000 (US$10470.81) for tickets to the Cavendish Beach Music Festival in P.E.I.
The tickets, according to the auditors, were reportedly distributed to senior bureaucrats and elected officials. The auditors did not reveal which elected officials received the tickets.
“I don’t believe that the general public would accept that money that would otherwise be returned to the provinces in terms of profits (is) going to buy concert tickets for political people, for elected officials and senior bureaucrats,” he said in Halifax, according to the news website.
“If you look at $14,000 (US$10470.81) and you say, ‘How much is that?’ I think if you ask someone who works down the street at Tim Horton’s, that’s probably half their year’s pay going to buy these tickets. So, I think any spending of public money should be explainable to all.”
The auditors also found ALC officials to be rewarding themselves with fat salary hikes without shareholder consultation. Some officials, according to the auditors, saw a 56 percent spike in salary and bonuses resulting in annual payouts of $390,000.
The corporation also spent$4 million on travel, hospitality and board expenses, including a $3,000 dinner bill for board and executive members.
For his part, ALC CEO and president Brent Scrimshaw assured the provincial auditors that the corporation will get rid of company-funded holiday events and scale back employee recognition spending.
“We have already put in place much tighter controls on travel and hosting that will deliver the type of operational efficiency that Atlantic Canadians expect,” he said. “This is a time of economic restraint in Atlantic Canada. The people of this region and our governments are tightening their belts. We must do the same.”