No Evidence Freedom Convoy Donations Were From Criminal Origins: GoFundMe Exec
An executive from the online crowdfunding platform GoFundMe said in testimony before a parliamentary committee that there is no evidence suggesting that any of the funds raised for the Freedom Convoy protest through the platform were illegal or acquired through criminal means.
A person crosses the street beside a big rig parked on Metcalfe Street in downtown Ottawa during the second week of the Freedom Convoy protest against federal COVID-19 restrictions, on Feb. 7, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)
Conservative MP Larry Brock asked GoFundMe general counsel Kim Wilford if she agreed that there was “no evidence that any of the funds originating to your platform were proceeds of crime.”
“That is correct,” Wilford told the parliamentary joint committee on the declaration of emergency on Nov. 18.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in the House of Commons on Feb. 9 that there was a “flow of funds through criminal activities” being sent to the convoy.
Just over a week later, the prime minister also told the House that the convoy was “being heavily supported by individuals in the United States and from elsewhere around the world.”
“We see that roughly half of the funding that is flowing to the barricaders here is coming from the United States,” he said on Feb. 17.
Wilford said Thursday that 88 percent of the funds donated to the convoy through GoFundMe originated in Canada and 86 of the donors were from Canada. The convoy’s fundraising page raised over $10 million before GoFundMe removed it on Feb. 4 on the grounds that it violated their service terms.
Wilford confirmed that of the total 133,000 donors who gave to the fundraiser, only 18,000 originated from outside of Canada, with 14,000 of that total coming from the United States.
‘Perhaps A Handful’
A CBC broadcasting host said on Jan. 28 that there was “concern that Russian actors could be continuing to fuel things as this protest grows or perhaps even instigating it from the outside.”
The national media outlet’s ombudsman later called the comment “too bold” and said it should’ve been backed by more evidence.
Wilford told the House finance committee on March 17 that the largest single donation made to the convoy through GoFundMe totalled $30,000 and that it was from Canada.
GoFundMe’s president Juan Benitez told the committee on the same day that “there was virtually no, perhaps a handful at most, of donations from Russia.”
“In our opinion, and from the evidence that we see, there was no coordinated effort there to have any kind of contribution or impact,” he said.
On Nov. 18, Liberal MP Rachel Bendayan asked Wilford to provide the joint committee on with GoFundMe’s numbers outlining where convoy donors originated.
“Can you confirm to the committee that no donations were received from China?” Bendayan asked.
“I do not believe that any donations were received from China,” Wilford said, adding that she didn’t have the exact information at hand and couldn’t “confirm with 100 percent certainty.”
“Can you similarly confirm with respect to any donations coming from Russia?” Bendayan asked.
“Correct, yes,” said Wilford.
David Wagner contributed to this report.
Sun, 11/20/2022 – 22:30