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Clark denies NDP’s conflict-of-interest allegations

Premier Christy Clark speaks to media following a flash mob event put on by Reynolds Secondary School on the steps of the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on Feb.26, 2014.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

Premier Christy Clark says she will ask conflict-of-interest commissioner Paul Fraser for an opinion about the former role she held as a director of a company with strong ties to British Columbia's Liberals and the federal Conservatives.

But the current chief executive officer of the parent company says the issue is not a conflict but an administrative oversight.

"I don't know what's the conflict?" said John Park, CEO of RCI Capital Group, on Thursday. "Somebody's got to tell me what's the conflict. That company didn't even have a bank account set up. It didn't even make it out of our research department."

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Opposition New Democratic Leader Adrian Dix questioned Ms. Clark in the legislature about her role and relationship with the company, especially since RCI Capital Group officials have travelled to Asia on trade missions with the Premier and the federal government.

Ms. Clark was listed as a director of RCI Pacific Gateway Education Inc., a subsidiary of Vancouver-based investment firm RCI Capital Group, which focuses on energy resources and Asia-Pacific markets.

Ms. Clark said she signed on as an honorary director at RCI Pacific Gateway in 2007, two years after leaving government. As far as she knows, her directorship ended that year, the same year she took a private-sector job to work at a Vancouver radio station.

B.C. company registry records state RCI Pacific Gateway was dissolved in May, 2011, for failure to provide company files to the registry.

Mr. Dix said Ms. Clark did not disclose her close relationship with the company, which included company directors who accompanied her on trade missions to Asia.

"The Premier has done significant business promoting this company many times since becoming premier," Mr. Dix said in the legislature.

"I mean they can assert things in this fantasy world, 'I wasn't a director of the company,' even though I was. 'They weren't using me to promote their company,' even though they were. 'I wasn't the founding director, chair of the company,' even though she was."

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Ms. Clark said in the legislature that she held a brief honorary directorship with one of the company's subsidiaries in 2007, but that ended when it folded and she took a job as a Vancouver radio broadcaster.

The Premier said she was never paid for her directorship and did not attend any directors meetings.

"My understanding from the company was they wound up in 2007," Ms. Clark said at a news conference after Question Period in the legislature.

"They asked me to become honorary chairman of the company. I never did any work for them. Never went to any meetings. Never got paid."

She said the NDP was looking to create an issue from one that didn't exist.

"I think you should talk to the company, ask them, if I did any work for them," Ms. Clark said. "That might clear it up."

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Mr. Park, the CEO of RCI Capital Group, said the company examined bringing international university students to Canada in 2007 but decided a few months later the venture was not viable.

RCI Pacific Gateway Education Inc., of which Ms. Clark was given a directorship, lasted three months at the most, said Mr. Park.

"We have over two dozen companies operating in our group, half of them operating and half are just shell companies we keep on the shelf," he said.

"If the Premier's name was associated with the company any longer than, I want to say half a year maximum, if it went on any longer than that, it would have been a mistake, an administrative mistake."

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