Canadian businessman says he burned $1M in cash to avoid paying ex-wife child support

A Canadian businessman and failed mayoral candidate was thrown in jail for 30 days after telling a judge he burned 1 million Canadian dollars in cash -- in two separate bonfires -- to avoid paying his wife spousal and child support as part of their divorce settlement, according to a report published Tuesday.

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In an Ottawa Superior Court hearing last week, Bruce McConville, 55, told a judge he withdrew about 1 million Canadian dollars -- about $750,000 USD -- in 25 separate withdrawals from six separate bank accounts. He claimed he then burned the cash in two bonfires – $743,000 on Sept. 23 and $296,000 on Dec. 15, Ottawa Citizen reported.

McConville, who ran for mayor of Ottawa in 2018, claimed to have receipts to prove he withdrew the money. He said he did not record the bonfires and no one witnessed him set the cash ablaze.

“Can I back you up a bit? When you say you destroyed it, what do you mean?” Superior Court Justice Kevin Phillips asked, to which McConville replied: “I burnt it.”

(Credit: Bruce McConville For Mayor)

(Credit: Bruce McConville For Mayor)

“It’s not something that I would normally do,” McConville said, according to Ottawa Citizen. “I am not a person that is extremely materialistic. A little goes a long way. I have always been frugal. That’s why my business lasted for 31 years.”

“I don’t believe you. I don’t trust you. I don’t think you’re honest,” the judge told him. “I find what you have done to be morally reprehensible because what you claim to have done willfully and directly undermines the interests of your children.”

McConville said he earned the money he later burned by selling some of his properties and businesses to his former accountant – a direct violation of a court order not to sell his assets. He also has failed to file an affidavit disclosing his finances to the court.

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The judge sentenced McConville to 30 days in jail for violating the court orders. He ordered McConville to pay $2,000 a day to his ex-wife for every day he fails to disclose his finances to the court moving forward.

McConville ran for mayor of the Canadian capital city in 2018 on a tough-on-crime platform but failed to oust incumbent Jim Watson, who’s held the office since 2010.