Former minister responsible says she was not told directly about dirty money flowing in BC casinos
The interim leader of the British Columbia Liberal Party said in a provincial inquiry Thursday that the issue of money laundering in casinos was an “important priority” for the province while she was in charge of gambling, but not the only priority.
Shirley Bond said the government in 2011 was also concerned about gang activity, gun violence and civil forfeiture cases during his tenure as Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety under the leadership of the Premier of the era, Christy Clark.
“[Money laundering] was one of many priorities, “Bond told the Cullen Commission during his testimony Thursday.” The game is a part of a very large and complex ministry. “
Bond is one of the former cabinet ministers to appear before the inquiry this month as the commission focuses on the government’s actions in the decade and a half that money laundering has worsened in Colombia -British.
Bond was the minister in charge of gambling in the province from March 2011 to February 2012.
In those 11 months, Bond said she never spoke to then-Prime Minister Clark about reports of millions of dollars in suspicious cash entering casinos being linked to organized crime and money laundering. silver.
She said she was not told that top players were buying at casinos for hundreds of thousands of dollars, mostly in $ 20 bills, nor was she aware that casinos in the Lower Mainland were accepting millions in suspicious cash.
“This was never raised with me directly as a minister,” Bond said.
Delay in the creation of the working group
Bond defended her record, noting that she had made sure the province implemented nine of the ten recommendations of the 2011 Kroeker report, which focused on steps British Columbia should take to fight money laundering. .
But commission attorney Patrick McGowan urged Bond to delay implementing the report’s biggest and final recommendation: the creation of a dedicated interagency task force to investigate suspicious activity.
Bond said “public service” staff told him the first nine steps were achievable in the short term and would make a difference. Given the cost and complexity of a working group, she chose to wait and see how the first nine recommendations affected the problem before acting as a team.
The Joint Illegal Gambling Investigation Team (JIGIT) was only launched in 2015. Money laundering had reached its peak by then, according to later reports, with millions of dirty money circulating in the province. .
Clark told the public inquiry on Tuesday that the 2015 tip was the first she had heard of the money laundering problem in her government.
Money laundering has lasting ramifications for the economy of British Columbia. It is linked to organized crime and has been linked to the current province-wide opioid crisis as well as sky-high housing prices in the Lower Mainland.
WATCH | Documents obtained by CBC News in 2011 showed that top RCMP investigators had warned the province against money laundering at BC casinos:
More ministers to come
Former British Columbia Liberal ministers Rich Coleman, Mike de Jong and Kash Heed are due to testify ahead of the inquest later this month. Attorney General David Eby will also be appearing.
2018 report said ‘collective systemic failure’ paved the way for unintentional casinos become “laundromats” for the proceeds of crime since the early 2000s, with over $ 100 million likely cleaned up in BC over about a decade.
The Cullen Commission is examining how British Columbia can best address the problem.
Its final report is expected on December 15.