Tuesday, September 14, 2010
BC Rail director roasted by defence over $550,000 fees, corporate donations to BC Liberals in Basi-Virk trial
BC Rail director gets testy in testimony over his $550,000 fees, political donations
By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist
A B.C. Rail director during its $1 billion sale got testy giving testimony about his own $550,000 in fees from two Crown corporations and political donations his companies made to the B.C. Liberal Party, under tough cross-examination in B.C. Supreme Court Tuesday.
Brian Kenning bristled repeatedly under questioning from defence lawyer Kevin McCullough in the Basi-Virk political corruption trial.
McCullough, representing former B.C. government ministerial aide Bob Virk, had Kenning confirm he was paid $550,000 in directors fees on the B.C. Rail and B.C. Ferries boards since the B.C. Liberals were elected in 2001, an average of $62,000 a year.
“I would point out one little thing. I make more sitting on the MacDonald-Dettwiler board alone,” Kenning replied, referring to his role at the giant information company.
Retorted McCullough: “Just a pittance?”
Kenning: “No, it’s not a pittance.”
McCullough: “Do you know the average wage in B.C.?”
In fact, MacDonald-Dettwiler corporate reports show Kenning was paid $98,519 for sitting on its board last year - $68,500 in fees and $30,019 in "share-based awards". He owns $294,536 worth of MacDonald-Dettwiler common shares and deferred share units.
The average annual salary in B.C. last year was $41,600.
McCullough also pointed out that Kenning was involved in firms that gave the B.C. Liberal Party hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“And that is absolutely irrelevant,” Kenning responded.
McCullough questioned Kenning closely on his personal connections to a number of key figures in the political and corporate world, including CN Rail chair David McLean, B.C. Liberal Party insider Patrick Kinsella, former B.C. Liberal Finance Minister Gary Collins, B.C. Rail chair John McLernan, Alan Wallace of CIBC World Markets - which handled the sale of B.C. Rail, and former B.C. Rail CEO Bob Phillips.
Former B.C. Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk are charged with breach of trust and fraud for allegedly providing lobbyists for a bidder with internal government information about B.C. Rail. Former government staffer Aneal Basi faces money laundering charges related to those allegations.
A version of this story will be published in 24 hours newspaper Wednesday September 15