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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Westbound traffic is slow moving on Highway 1 following a crash that has police blocking one lane. Google Maps screenshot taken at 9:07 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Crash on North Parallel Road causes road closure, single westbound Highway 1 lane blocked

Abbotsford Police investigating, roads closed between McDermott and No. 3 Road

Kassandra Clack of Abbotsford has been named one of 18 finalists in the Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search, taking place in June.
Fraser Valley country singer Kassandra Clack a finalist in national talent search

18 finalists vie to win Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search in June

Mandeep Grewal was gunned down outside an Abbotsford bank in October 2018. Police said a violent gang war to control drug-line territory was going on at that time. Drug charges have now been announced against seven people. (FILE PHOTO: John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
7 people face 38 charges related to gang drug activity in Abbotsford and Mission

Police say investigation began in 2018 into expansion of Brothers Keepers’ drug line

This vehicle is suspected of being involved in a suspicious incident on Friday (May 7) on Mouat Drive in Abbotsford.
Driver in Abbotsford tries to lure teen girl into his vehicle

Man tells 14-year-old that her mom sent him to pick her up

Michael Proud, a clinical nurse educator at Mission Memorial Hospital, standing outside the hospital. Patrick Penner photo.
Local nurses shine perspective on the last year through COVID-19

Stressors, challenges and successes on the pandemic’s front line

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday evening (May 7) to remember 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, who was killed in last weekend’s brazen daylight shooting outside North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall. (James Smith photo)
Hundreds gather to remember victim of North Delta shooting

Corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, was killed in what police say was a targeted incident

Flags flown at half mast out front of Fraser Regional Correctional Centre for slain corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa. (Neil Corbett/ The News)
Public vigil and flying flags at half mast done to honour slain prison guard

Maple Ridge corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, is being remembered in a number of ways

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Most Read