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

Victoria-born, 16-time Grammy winning musician David Foster penned a letter to the Greater Victoria School District May 7 urging them not to cut music programs. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
David Foster joins fight to save music in Greater Victoria School District

‘Music is the great equalizer’ Foster wrote in a letter to the district

‘Nindanikoobijiganag: We are Star People’ by Mississauga Nishnaabe Lucbanin artist Estrella Whetung. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Victoria beadwork exhibit speaks to evolving, enduring nature of Indigenous art

On Beaded Ground features work from West Coast artists and a Cedar Hill Middle School group

Former Victoria HarbourCat and Chicago White Sox player Andrew Vaughn. (Photo courtesy of Chicago White Sox)
Former Victoria HarbourCat hits first MLB home run, adds another two days later

Andrew Vaughn is the first HarbourCat alumni to hit a homer in the majors

A seniors housing complex proposed for Cedar Hill Road in Saanich was supported by council after a public hearing on May 12. (Rendering by Jenson Group Architects)
New 85-unit seniors housing development gets green light from Saanich council

Four-storey rental complex would be located on Cedar Hill Road

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read