The NPA council candidate who failed to file his financial statements from the 2011 civic election campaign plans to turn over his documents at city hall this week.
Francis Wong said Monday he will deliver a package to city hall by Wednesday showing he raised and spent close to $24,000 on his unsuccessful run for a council seat.
Wong’s reasons for not filing his statements included going through a divorce after the November election, sorting through bank records and being out of the country on the March 19 disclosure deadline.
“Right after the election, I was going through quite a bit of personal stuff so I just didn’t have the time to do it,” said Wong in an interview from his family’s jewelry store at the Tinseltown mall on West Pender Street.
Wong, a former banker, also missed a subsequent deadline to file statements April 18. The consequence is a $500 penalty and being barred from running in the 2014 election.
“I knew I had to submit it, I knew I was late but after being late I thought I could hand it in anytime,” he said. “I plan to do it this week because I have an obligation to the people who supported me and an obligation to the [NPA] party, as well.”
The 38-year-old former vice-president of the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association Society said the majority of money he raised came from individuals who attended a fundraiser at the Fraser Court restaurant.
Concord Pacific gave the largest sum from a company but Wong declined to reveal specific dollar figures until he finalizes his statements and files them at city hall.
He said about $11,000 went to the NPA’s central campaign and another $8,000 to host the fundraiser at the restaurant, which he said attracted 300 people. He said he also spent several thousand dollars on advertising in newspapers, radio and on ads at SkyTrain platforms.
At city council’s April 24 meeting, several Vision Vancouver councillors focused on Wong’s failure to file his financial statements by the deadlines. Vision Vancouver all but wiped out the NPA in the 2011 election.
“This is really a serious matter,” said Vision Coun. Tim Stevenson. “This really does undercut the whole democratic process in as much as all of a sudden we have no idea how much money this person collected and funneled into the NPA.”
Vision Coun. Kerry Jang suggested the NPA could be hiding money it raised through Wong and keeping that money a mystery to the public.
Wong said he has apologized to some members of the NPA party for any “havoc” he caused by failing to file his statements. He refuted suggestions that his failure to disclose was somehow linked to hiding money.
“It’s personal,” he said.
NPA president John Moonen echoed Wong’s position.
“It has nothing to do with the NPA and we’re certainly not hiding anything in one former candidate’s filing,” Moonen said. “I mean it’s not a conspiracy.”
Wong was one of eight candidates identified in a city staff report who failed to file their financial statements from the 2011 civic election campaign. COPE school trustee candidate Jane Bouey was the only other person listed from a mainstream political party. Bouey has since paid the $500 fine and filed her statements.