MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

Reports of money laundering at British Columbia casinos had the attention of the government a decade ago, says the interim leader of the Liberal party who was then the minister in charge of gaming.

But Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns when the gaming file was part of her duties as the solicitor general and minister of public safety in 2011.

She told the commission looking into money laundering in the province that as minister she implemented most recommendations of a government report on anti-money laundering strategies.

However, the report’s call to create a cross-agency task force to investigate and gather intelligence on suspicious activities at casinos was delayed under her watch, Bond said.

The government appointed B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen in May 2019 to lead the public inquiry into money laundering after three reports outlined how hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash affected B.C.’s real estate, luxury vehicle and gaming sectors.

Bond said reports of money laundering at casinos were a matter of concern when gaming was part of her ministry.

“I certainly think the government’s response to media reports … meant that it was on the government’s radar screen,” she said. “It certainly had government’s attention.”

The responsibility for gaming was transferred away from Bond to another ministry in early 2012.

Bond testified she could not recall being advised by top-ranking government gaming investigators that organized crime groups were suspected of providing large cash loans to casino patrons as part of a money laundering scheme.

“To the best of my recollection, that was not raised directly with me as minister,” she said.

Bond said she never discussed reports of millions of dollars of suspicious cash at casinos being linked to money laundering and organized crime with former premier Christy Clark.

“I do not remember having a specific conversation with her about that,” said Bond.

Clark told the public inquiry earlier this week she first heard from sources within the government in 2015 about a spike in suspicious cash at casinos.

The inquiry is expected to hear testimony from more former and current B.C. politicians in the coming days.

Former Liberal cabinet ministers Mike de Jong and Rich Coleman and current New Democrat Attorney General David Eby are scheduled to testify.

Earlier Thursday, Premier John Horgan’s top bureaucrat testified she did not tell Coleman, the former Liberal gaming minister, to stop the flow of illegal cash at casinos.

Lori Wanamaker denied saying, “Rich, we have to do something about this,” during a meeting with Coleman and former gaming investigator Larry Vander Graaf.

“I would never refer to the minister by his given name,” said Wanamaker, a former deputy minister in the Liberal government and now Horgan’s deputy minister, cabinet secretary and head of the public service.

The B.C. government granted the commission an extension in March to produce its final report, which is now due on Dec. 15.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Jane Long-Haggerty, a chartered accountant with a member of the Salvation Army Food Bank, hold up a cheque for $740. Long-Haggerty decided to cut her fees in half and ask her clients to donate whatever they felt they could to the food bank. The idea landed her a room full of food and $740 to the Salvation Army Food Bank. (Submitted)
Penticton accounting firm gives big return to food bank

Long-Haggerty said this year’s tax season showed how bad the pandemic has impacted everyone

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

A brown bear and two cubs were spotted near Killiney Beach May 10. (Michael Dick photo)
Warm spring brings bears out earlier in Okanagan

Residents urged to keep their garbage secure until the morning of pickup

The manager and a worker at the Penticton Great Canadian Oil Exchange in front of the new sea-can. (Submitted)
Kelowna and Penticton oil recycling facilities get upgrades

The BC Used Oil Management Association provided grant funding for the upgrades

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Then-minister Rich Coleman, escorted by Victoria Police, makes his way to the east wing amid a protest blocking the legislature entrances before the throne speech in Victoria, B.C., Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. money laundering inquiry testimony ends today with reappearance of Rich Coleman

Responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, Coleman been recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month

Colin Dowler rests in hospital recuperating from wounds suffered from a grizzly bear attack north of Campbell River. He was able to end the struggle by stabbing the bear in the neck with a knife like the one he is holding. Photo submitted
‘Bad-ass dude that took on a grizzly bear’ doesn’t let 2019 B.C. attack bring him down

Campbell River’s Colin Dowler gets on with his life as his rehabilitation continues

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport in Richmond, B.C. on Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Meeting police chance to get sense of ‘frustrating’ gang violence situation: minister

Mike Farnworth met with police representatives Thursday following a recent spate of shootings

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue manager Ken Neden, as he goes over the events of the Qualicum Falls river rescue on Dec. 12, 2020, for a United Kingdom television program “Unbelievable Moments Caught on Camera’. (Mandy Moraes photo)
UK TV show spreading news of daring B.C. river rescue across the world

Arrowsmith SAR trio share their accounts for ‘Unbelievable Moments Caught on Camera’

Shane Ertmoed’s application for Escorted Temporary Absences was granted following a hearing May 4, 2021. (File photo)
B.C. child-killer an ‘average’ risk to sexually reoffend: Parole Board

Written reasons behind approval of Shane Ertmoed’s request for escorted absences shared

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The Maritime Kitchen Party is featured in the B-Side, the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s online series, May 13-16. (VDPAC photo)
B-Side keeps Okanagan musicians in Focus

Performing Arts Centre online concerts continue

Most Read