Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Former premier Christy Clark has told British Columbia’s inquiry into money laundering that she first heard from sources within government in 2015 about a spike in suspicious cash entering casinos.

Clark testified Tuesday that she was concerned the problem was “apparently at an all-time high,” though government officials also believed the spike was confirmation that increased training among B.C. Lottery Corp. and provincial gaming enforcement staff was working.

The concerns raised in 2015 by Mike de Jong, who was the minister responsible for gaming, spurred the creation of the joint illegal gaming investigation team, a division of B.C.’s anti-gang police agency, she told the Cullen commission.

Clark testified her government had also acted quickly to implement a 2011 report that recommended changes to its anti-money laundering strategies.

Patrick McGowan, a lawyer with the commission, asked Clark whether she was aware that between 2012 and 2015, large cash buy-ins at casinos consisting mostly of $20 bills had become commonplace in the Lower Mainland.

Clark said she was not, but her government was taking various anti-money laundering actions at the time, including restricting the exchange of small bills for large bills and transitioning to electronic funds transfers in casinos.

“I wasn’t being kept abreast of the large cash buy-ins and the reports from law enforcement specifically,” she said, adding she assumed that police would act on any reports of suspicious transactions.

McGowan asked Clark whether she would have intervened or raised concerns if she had been told about large sums of cash, mostly in $20 bills, being dropped off late at night and accepted.

“I can’t answer questions about what might have happened,” said Clark. “I can say that we took significant action in the years that I was there, and I think confirmation of its effectiveness is that the current government is continuing with those actions that we undertook.”

When McGowan asked if Clark knew that the vast majority of money reported as suspicious was being accepted by casinos, the former premier testified she had not been aware

A discussion about managing the potentially competing pressures of maximizing provincial revenues while minimizing the risk that the financial proceeds of crime were entering casinos “was never necessary,” she said.

The B.C. Liberals under Clark had campaigned on public safety and controlling government costs rather than pushing Crown corporations to bring in more revenues, she said.

“The idea was never to try and get revenue at the expense of public safety or public confidence in our casino system. Stopping crime, stopping money laundering, was always a primary concern way over and above the revenue that came from (the B.C. Lottery Corp.).”

Clark is among a number of former cabinet ministers on the commission’s witness list this month. Attorney General David Eby has been added to the witness list as well.

The B.C. government appointed 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.

Asked whether she knew of any steps the government took to investigate whether housing prices in B.C. could have been influenced by possible illicit money being invested in real estate, Clark said no one in government or law enforcement ever made that suggestion.

The province 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.

BC politicsmoney laundering

Just Posted

A group fitness class at the Mission Leisure Centre. / File Photo courtesy of District of Mission
Mission to participate in the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge

Event runs from June 1-30 and organizers hope Mission can be named Canada’s Most Active Community

Items seized by RCMP during a May 13 raid on Butchart Street. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP seize guns and drugs during raid on Butchart Street property

Police executed a search warrant on a home May 13, arresting one man at the scene

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

The Fraser Valley Bandits have signed guard Gentrey Thomas for the 2021 CEBL season. (Fraser Valley Bandits photo)
Fraser Valley Bandits sign guard Gentrey Thomas

Abbotsford-based basketball club signs former UC Riverside talent

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

(Vancouver Police Department)
Vancouver police expect violence to escalate, ID 6 gangsters who pose ‘public safety risk’

VPD asking public to stay away from these six people, who they say may be targeted in shootings

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Linda Annis, executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, at press conference Monday. (Submitted photo)
Crime Stoppers receiving $200K from province for ‘Guns and Gangs’ tip line campaign

Executive director Linda Annis broke the news Monday morning in Surrey

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

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

Most Read