|Bill Tieleman meets David Basi for the first time in April 2010 outside BC Supreme Court|
- Gordon Campbell, 1998
Perhaps the biggest anti-climax we've seen in any BC political scandal came Wednesday when BC Auditor General Russ Jones arrived at the same conclusion I did years ago - no political interference in allowing two ministerial aides who pleaded guilty to breach of trust and fraud charges to collect $6.4 million in legal fees nonetheless.
David Basi and Bob Virk had little choice in pleading guilty after five years before the courts and facing massive legal bills for their excellent defence team led by Michael Bolton and Kevin McCullough - as I have documented extensively on this blog, in 24 Hours Vancouver and The Tyee after the surprise ending to their trial after just two witnesses testified of an expected 40 or more.
You can read my view of the stunning end of this political scandal when Basi and Virk were hung out to dry and the background to my six years of coverage that earned me a serious break in and trashing of my office back in December 2007 for writing on things that others wanted left unsaid - and many fans and praise too, I must add.
|Bill Tieleman sorts through the wreakage of his office after December 7, 2007|
break-in by persons unknown to this date
Why? What did you expect?
With high profile witnesses about to testify, possibly from former BC Liberal Finance Minister Gary Collins - who Basi worked for - to ex-BC Liberal Transportation Minister Judith Reid - to BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark's brother Bruce Clark, to Campbell and Christy Clark themselves, it would have been a political three-ring circus for months.
Basi and Virk's veteran criminal law team were set to lay out their defence - that Basi and Virk were pawns in an alleged massive conspiracy they had already outlined in BC Supreme Court: to sell BC Rail for $1 billion to CN Rail and to compensate the only remaining and losing bidder OmniTRAX for staying in a contest that CP Rail and others called "tainted" with other valuable contracts.
Police raids on the homes of Bruce Clark and Pilothouse lobbyist Erik Bornmann - who admitted to police to bribing Basi and Virk for confidential BC Rail information when he turned Crown witness - found plenty of evidence, but only Basi and Virk were ever charged.
That despite key documents being found by police at Bruce Clark's home - information outlined in the jointly agreed Crown prosecution and defence lawyers mutually agreed "Statement of Facts" entered in the court when the case ended.
A "statement of facts" agreed to by both Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino and defence lawyers says police found confidential government information on a second BC Rail privatization of its Roberts Bank spur line in Clark's home and that it came from Basi and Virk.
The line was estimated to be worth about $70 million.
Clark was a lobbyist for the Washington Marine Group at the time and the Roberts Bank bidding was cancelled after police informed then-transportation minister Kevin Falcon that the process was tainted.
Move along, move along - nothing to see here.
But on the $6.4 million legal fees being paid, Auditor General Jones argues:
“The decision to amend Mr. Basi’s and Mr. Virk’s indemnities was made by public servants, separate from the trial. It was made to avoid the future cost of a lengthy trial.”