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

Carey Newman resigned from the Greater Victoria School District’s Indigenous Ad Hoc Committee May 13, citing ‘a pattern of systemic racism.’ (Black Press Media file photo)
‘Pattern of systemic racism’: SD61 Indigenous committee member resigns, calls for change

More than 350 people had added their names in support by midday Friday

The Greater Victoria School District continues to face backlash over its wording and approach to Indigenous learners in its 2021-2022 budget talks. (Black Press Media file photo)
School district’s approach to Indigenous learners leaves Victoria teachers ‘disgusted’

Backlash grows over ‘pattern of colonial thinking permeating the leadership’

Commonwealth Place recreation centre was shut down before 8 a.m. on Friday following a power outage. (Saanich Parks, Recreation and Community Services/Twitter)
Saanich Commonwealth Place closed due to power outage, outdoor classes still running

Indoor classes, programs at pool and weight room halted

Royal Bay Secondary School students paint the crosswalk in front of their school in support of LGBTQ and marginalized members of the community (Royal Bay Secondary School photo)
Senior student leaves mark at Royal Bay Secondary School for LGBTQ+ students

Crosswalk at Colwood school painted in support of marginalized community members

An elderly man having a medical emergency in Mount Douglas Park on May 13 was rescued by firefighters and paramedics with the help of ATVs. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Rescue team uses ATVs to get man in medical distress out of Saanich park and to hospital

Cedarhill Road closed as firefighters, paramedics rescue man in Mount Douglas Park

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

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Gardner finds buried explosives, sparking evacuation of Cowichan school

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen outside a hospital in Jammu, India, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP/Channi Anand)
B.C. donates $500K to Red Cross COVID-19 relief efforts in India

The money will provide oxygen cylinders and ambulances for patients in communities grappling with the virus

Superintendent Aaron Paradis, community services officer with the Surrey RCMP, during a media availability about a recent drug bust in Port Coquitlam. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Police seize 13 million ‘potentially fatal doses’ of pure fentanyl at B.C. drug lab

The evidence was seized at large, illicit drug manufacturing site in Port Coquitlam

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth debates the province’s latest measure to control crime, March 10, 2021. The legislation allows police to impound vehicles used to transport weapons and further restricts sale of vehicle and body armour. (B.C. legislature video)
B.C. seeking ways to ‘name and shame’ gangsters, minister says

Mike Farnworth appeals to family members to talk to police

Jonathan Prest had to climb way up to the top of a dead red cedar tree to rescue a terrified cat, but he made it up and down successfully. (Facebook photos)
Tree cutter rescues cat stuck 100 feet up a dead and dried-out cedar

Jonathan Prest put himself in extreme peril to get a terrified cat out of a dangerous situation

The Arts Council of Ladysmith and District is working with several Vancouver Island art councils on the Digitial Innovation Group to improve digital skills for Island artists. (Submitted photo)
Arts group promotes digital literacy for Island artists

The goal is to leverage digital skills to promote Vancouver Island as an ‘arts powerhouse’

Most Read