This Thursday, April 22, 2021, former British Columbia minister Shirley Bond has given her set of testimony at the Cullen’s Commission inquiry into money laundering happenings in the province’s casinos and real estate sectors. According to her during her term in 2011, the local government had a lot on its plate as gang violence, civil forfeiture, and gambling addictions were on the rise as well.
The Cullen Commission is currently investigating and gathering evidence and testimony on the alleged money laundering activities in British Columbia’s casino and real estate industry. So far, the inquiry has heard testaments from various gambling industry officials, political figures, and RCMP investigators. The commission has up to December to conclude its final report on the case.
One of Many Concerns
Shirley Bond has spoken this Thursday on the matter as she was interrogated by the commission in an online conference call. Ms. Bond said that during her term as solicitor general and minister of public safety in 2011, the government had plenty of other concerns along with the money laundering issue. However, she stated that back then she implemented a significant number of recommendations of the government report on anti-money washing measures.
Ms. Bond explained that the initiative to create a cross-agency task force to investigate and collect evidence on the suspicious activities in the casinos was delayed. She stated that during her term the problem was in the government’s attention. However, in 2012 the gaming responsibility was transferred away from her to another ministry.
In her words, Ms. Bond insisted that she had no recollection of being advised by the government gaming investigators about the issue of organized crime groups supplying casino patrons with huge cash amounts for money laundering. She said that it was not directly raised at her during her time as a minister and she never discussed the matter with former premier Christy Clark.
Premier John Horgan’s deputy minister Lori Wanamaker has also testified at the inquiry. She denied telling former Liberal gaming minister Rich Coleman that they have to stop illegal cash flow at the casinos during a meeting with him and gaming investigator Larry Vander Graaf. Ms. Wanamaker insisted that she would never refer to the minister by his given name.
Earlier this week former B.C. premier Christy Clark has also shared her testimony at the money-laundering inquiry. Ms. Clark stated that she only found out about the issue in 2015 when the criminal activity hit its peak numbers. She defended the then-government by saying that the creation of the task force was not delayed, as the recommendation report reached minister Mike de Jong in 2015 and not earlier.
Rewinding to earlier this month former RCMP officer and the man responsible for two money laundering reports Peter German has also testified. Mr. German completely denied the claims that his reports were politically influenced as he worked with Attorney-General David Eby, and claimed that his reports were completely independent and based on his findings.
Source: “Former minister tells inquiry money laundering on B.C. radar, but so were guns, gangs”, Welland Tribune, April 22, 2021