Casino supervisor tells court that former MP became agitated over blackjack losses
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This article was published 09/06/2022 (235 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA – An operations supervisor at Casino Lac Leamy told an Ottawa courtroom Thursday that former Liberal MP Raj Grewal got so agitated playing blackjack four years ago, the incident was written up in a formal security report.
Grewal was charged by the RCMP in September 2020 with four counts of breach of trust and one of fraud over $5,000. His lawyer said in a written statement Thursday two of those charges were withdrawn by the Crown on Monday, the first day of Grewal’s trial.
Nader Hasan said a third charge was withdrawn before the trial began.
“The prospect of a trial has hung over Mr. Grewal’s head for a long time,” Hasan said. “We will present a vigorous defence over the coming weeks, and we feel confident that Mr. Grewal’s complete innocence on these breach of trust charges will become clear for all to see.”
The trial is being heard by a judge alone, and is expected to last until late July. Grewal, who lives in the Toronto area, was in the courtroom for the trial Thursday, sitting quietly behind his lawyers.
Grewal parted ways with the Liberals in the fall of 2018 just three years after first being elected. He sat as an Independent MP for a Brampton, Ont., riding until the 2019 election, in which he did not run.
Days after his split from the Liberals, Grewal issued a video statement in which he said he had a gambling addiction and had racked up millions of dollars in debt. He claimed the debts were all repaid, adding that nothing sinister had taken place.
The RCMP launched a criminal probe into Grewal’s gambling in 2017 after Canada’s Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre, or Fintrac, sent the RCMP some suspicious transaction reports related to Grewal.
The charges laid in September 2020 stemmed from allegations he used his position as an MP to solicit millions of dollars in loans he did not disclose to the ethics commissioner, and misused his MP office budget.
The federal ethics commissioner launched an investigation into Grewal’s disclosures in early 2018 but that investigation was suspended when the criminal charges were laid and will not resume until the case is concluded.
Grewal, 36, said in 2018 that he started gambling “recreationally” after university, and that in 2016, shortly after being elected as an MP, he began to frequent the Casino Lac Leamy in Gatineau, Que., while he stayed at the attached hotel.
He said the recreational gambling morphed into an addiction for which he sought treatment in 2018.
At the trial Thursday, Jacques Bouchard, an operations supervisor at Casino Lac Leamy, said he had seen Grewal in the casino a few times, but that on May 30, 2018, at 11:30 a.m. he witnessed Grewal playing blackjack and becoming very agitated.
He filed a security investigation report as a result of the incident. The report included some of the comments Bouchard said he overheard from Grewal, including that Grewal felt he should be winning if he got to 19 or 20 points.
“Come on, have an ace,” the report quotes Grewal as having said that day. “Take all my money.”
The report also quotes Grewal as saying, “Why didn’t I left after the first 100K?”
Under cross-examination, Hasan got Bouchard to acknowledge that the comments in quotations may not be perfectly accurate, noting a native English speaker would not have used the grammatically incorrect phrase “Why didn’t I left.”
Bouchard said that could be the case, but added English is not his first language. He testified in court with the use of an interpreter.
The trial continues next week.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2022.