Canadian gambling CEO Rod Baker resigns after being accused of flying into Indigenous group to get COVID-19 vaccine

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Canadian gambling CEO Rod Baker has resigned after he and his wife were charged with travelling to a remote community in the country’s north and misleading authorities in order to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

Key points:

  • Mr Baker and his wife allegedly travelled from Vancouver to the Yukon territory and posed as local workers
  • The pair were charged with having failed to behave in a manner “consistent with (their) declaration”
  • Great Canadian Gaming Corp is being bought by Apollo Global Management Inc

Great Canadian Gaming Corp, an Ontario-based company that runs casinos and hotels, said in a statement that it received the chief executive officer’s resignation on Sunday but offered no details, stating that it did not comment on personnel matters.

Mr Baker did not immediately return a request for comment.

Great Canadian Gaming Corp is in the process of being bought by Apollo Global Management Inc for $C2.5 billion ($2.56 billion).

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp, which first reported the incident, said Mr Baker, 55, and his wife Ekaterina Baker, 32, had travelled from Vancouver to the Yukon territory and posed as local workers in the remote community of Beaver Creek in order to receive a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The sparsely populated territory, home to a high proportion of Indigenous people, is situated in north-western Canada, where government data shows a faster vaccination rate than in the rest of Canada.

It covers almost 500,000 kilometres with just under 36,000 residents.

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Documents filed in the Yukon court registry show the pair were charged on Thursday with having failed to behave in a manner “consistent with (their) declaration”.

They also were charged with failing to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Yukon and each was fined C$1,150 ($1,168.72), according to the tickets.

“We are deeply concerned by the actions of individuals who put our elders and vulnerable people at risk to jump the line for selfish purposes,” White River first nation chief Angela Demit, leader of the local Indigenous nation, wrote on Facebook.

Yukon’s Community Services Minister John Streicker said in a statement he was “outraged” and found it “disturbing that people would choose to put fellow Canadians at risk in this manner”.

A spokesman for the Yukon Government said it would implement new requirements for proving residency in the territory.

Last month, Apollo sweetened its bid for Great Canadian Gaming Corp, helping the private equity firm to win the support of shareholders who had opposed the initial offer.

Reuters