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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lottery officials track down $50-million jackpot winner who lost ticket

   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 8/13

   (c) By Jim Fox

   When investigators came knocking at Kathryn Jones’ door in Hamilton, Ontario she at first hesitated at letting them in.
   It turns out they were really from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) trying to find the winner of an unclaimed ticket worth $50 million, tax free.
   And, as luck would have it, Jones, a 55-year-old engineer, was determined to be the winner of the prize paid all at once – even though she lost the ticket that was about to expire and didn’t know it was the winner.
  The investigation that led to Jones resulted from looking into the case of one of 435 people who tried to claim the Lotto Max prize from the Nov. 30, 2012 draw.
   The trail led to Jones based on a surveillance video from a store near her office and credit card records showing she bought a lottery ticket there at the time the winner was sold.
   Had she paid cash for the ticket, she might not have been found, said Mike Hamel of OLG's corporate investigations.
 (For more Canadian news of the week, click "Read more . . .")

   The Bank of Montreal has reduced its workforce by the equivalent of nearly 1,000 positions even as it reported a record net profit of $4.2 billion for the fiscal year.
   Chief operating officer Frank Techar said the layoffs in the past quarter were to reduce expenses and improve overall efficiency.
   Most of the cuts were at the Canadian personal and commercial banking operations, while the bank still employs 45,631 people worldwide.
   Weaknesses in the bank’s U.S. operations and capital markets were identified by analysts as areas of concern.


   News in brief:
   - Canada’s federal information commissioner is investigating the disappearance and reappearance of emails concerning the Senate expenses scandal. Police were “mistakenly” told the emails of Benjamin Perrin, former legal counsel in the Prime Minister's Office, had been deleted. They concern $90,000 former chief of staff Nigel Wright gave Sen. Mike Duffy to repay invalid living expense claims. Duffy, one of three senators suspended without pay, is in the hospital recovering from heart surgery.
   - A public opinion poll finds that 55 percent of British Columbia residents want highway speed limits to remain unchanged. The poll by Insights West and Black Press found 37 percent want the limits to rise and only 5 percent want them reduced. The provincial government is reviewing speed limits, winter tire use, slow-moving vehicles and wildlife hazards.


   Facts and figures:
   The Bank of Canada didn’t budge again on interest rates, suggesting the economy remains fragile and in need of continued monetary stimulus.
   The central bank kept its trendsetting interest rate at 1 percent, where it has been since May 2010, while the prime-lending rate remains at 3 percent.
   Canada’s dollar is lower at 93.79 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.0661 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 13,296 points and the TSX Venture index 917 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Dec. 4) 10, 12, 16, 23, 41 and 42; bonus 19. (Nov. 30) 2, 18, 22, 25, 37 and 39; bonus 1. Lotto Max: (Nov. 29) 3, 6, 19, 31, 34, 42 and 45; bonus 30.


   Regional briefs:
   - An ethics investigation has absolved Alberta Premier Alison Redford of any wrong-doing involving a government contract awarded to her ex-husband’s law firm. Ethics commissioner Neil Wilkinson found that Redford took a hands-off approach with a selection committee that chose Robert Hawkes' firm as part of a consortium in a suit against tobacco companies.
   - Councilors in Markham in suburban Toronto favor a proposal to build a $325-million NHL-size arena but don’t want taxpayers having to pay for it. The council wants GTA Sports and Entertainment to instead look for private funding for the 20,000-seat arena. The NHL has expressed no interest in putting a franchise in Markham.
   - New Brunswick police say speed was a factor in the deaths of four teenagers in a car crash in Notre-Dame. Justin Leger and Sebastien Leger (not related) and Justin Brown, all 18, and Luc Arsenault, 17, were killed when a car crashed into a ditch and rolled.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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