Saturday APril 11,2015 : CANADIAN ONLINE GAMBLING FAILURE GETS UGLY (Update)
Capital Markets Technologies files $25 million legal action against provincial government.
The failed attempt to introduce tribal-licensed online gambling in the Canadian province of Port Edward Island turned increasingly ugly this week when one of the companies that claims it was involved in the venture filed a $25 million legal claim against the provincial government.
Wes Sheridan, the finance minister at the time, will be under increased pressure following the filing, but has in the past denied accusations that there was little transparency in the million dollar agreement reached with tribal Mi’kmaq Confederacy authorities, or that insiders benefited improperly from the deal.
The almost one million dollars of taxpayer money given to the tribal authority is itself the subject of an enquiry, and has not been returned to the province.
The lawsuit has been launched by Capital Markets Technologies, and alleges corruption, collusion and malicious maligning by numerous provincial officials against the company.
The provincial government rejects all claims by CMT and has gone so far as to deny any involvement at all with the company
The suit names Sheridan, along with executive council clerk Steve MacLean, former chiefs of staff to the premier Chris LeClair and Allan Campbell and Cheryl Paynter and Brad Mix of Innovation P.E.I.
It also names two private businessmen, Paul Jenkins and Garth Jenkins as well as two private companies owned by Garth Jenkins.
CMT claims that its relationship with PEI began with a business deals with the Jenkins duo, who later encouraged CMT and its part-owned subsidiary Simplex to offer its global transaction technology to an emerging deal with the province.
A CMT director and others involved in the wheeling and dealing became involved in the committee driving the e-gaming project, along with provincial government members, meeting regularly at a local law office.
The Mi’kmaq Confederacy subsequently commissioned Simplex to write a $60,000 report on how the Simplex platform technology could be used to make P.E.I. an Internet gambling regulator. However, the provincial government abandoned the project early in 2012.
That was not the end of the matter, however; a few months later a provincial body titled Innovation PEI signed an agreement to explore setting up a finanacial services centre in the province. The other party to the agreement was a numbered company wholly owned by Capital Market Technologies.
That agreement expired before the project came to fruition, but CMT claims that on the day following the expiration, provincial officials Sheridan and LeClair submitted their own proposal to Innovation PEI, cutting CMT out of the deal.
CMT was then made the subject of a securities investigation which ended with it paying $15,000 in penalties.
The company specifies particular instances where provincial officials were allegedly economical with the truth in order to discredit CMT and its personnel involved in the projects, claiming that these were moves deliberately intended to undermine CMT's involvement.
The provincial government has labelled the CMT litigation as "scandalous, frivolous, vexatious and unfounded,” and has attacked the business reputation of the CMT director involved. It has also denied working directly with CMT, but admits contact with Simplex, and the numbered company owned by CMT.
Whether there will be a settlement or a full-on confrontation in the courts remains to be seen, but the ripples from the PEI abortive adventure into e-gaming continue to widen.