Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Basi-Virk defence alleges BC Liberals considered putting BC Rail into bankruptcy to facilitate sale; Deputy Minister Chris Trumpy in conflict?


Defence warns Premier Gordon Campbell will face "ample" cross-examination and calls government position to deny documents to accused a "perversity"

Government lawyer "categorically denies defence charges that "province acting "in some political fashion" in dealing with Basi-Virk case

Were BC Rail property management consultants "people close to the Premier or Cabinet who are being given special consideration?" defence lawyer asks

CN Rail described by defence as "bully" that won BC Rail bid despite "bad behaviour"

BC government, RCMP accused of using media "to manipulate things"

Two documents denied because of solicitor-client privilege by government were obtained by defence through Freedom Of Information request

Over 30 witnesses to testify in trial

Defence lawyers in the Basi-Virk case made serious allegations against the provincial government in BC Supreme Court this morning, disclosing that consideration was given to putting BC Rail into bankruptcy and insolvency protection to facilitate its privatization.

The defence also alleged that Chris Trumpy, then Deputy Minister of Revenue to then-Finance Minister Gary Collins, was in a conflict of interest situation because of his multiple roles in both the sale of BC Rail and as Chair of the BC Investment Management Corporation, which held over $360 million in CN Rail shares at the time.

And defence counsel criticized BC government attempts to block disclosure of 17 documents to the accused based on solicitor-client privilege by revealing they had previously received two of the documents through a Freedom Of Information request filed separately two years ago.

Michael Bolton, lawyer for David Basi, told Justice Elizabeth Bennett that document never disclosed previously show the BC Liberals had an option to put BC Rail into bankruptcy and insolvency protection through the federal Creditors Companies Arrangement Act.

"Bankruptcy for BC Rail was one of the things the government was looking at to facilitate the sale of the freight division," Bolton said.

Kevin McCullough, lawyer for Bob Virk, said Trumpy was placed on the BC Rail Evaluation Committee and was appointed a chief negotiator for the government at the same time he chaired the BCIMC, which invests public pension plan funds in a variety of corporations.

"So the question in my mind was - how could the government appoint someone who was the Chair of their investment management corporation that holds massive CN stock and then appoint him to the Evaluation Committee and be their negotiator?" McCullough asked. "And that's something my client was aware of and concerned that the NDP would get a hold of that."

McCullough later quoted from a December 2003 email from Chris Trumpy regarding the BC Rail Roberts Bank Sub Port privatization - a bid that was later cancelled after the RCMP advised the government it had learned the process had been compromised.

"I am stepping out of the evaluation process for the Sub Port until such time as I have received advice on a real or perceived conflict," McCullough said Trumpy wrote.

McCullough then stated: "It is remote that the Premier and Minister Collins aren't aware of these conflicts and the question is - what are they doing about it?"

Watch here in the days ahead for a full report with the details on these and many other allegations made in court today by the defence. Sorry I am unable to produce that information immediately.

The pre-trial hearing continues with a response to defence claims from government lawyer George Copley and BC Rail lawyer Robert Deane on Friday December 14 at 10 a.m. More on that here as well.


Anonymous said...

You have got to be kidding! The government releases information under the FOI Act and then refuses to disclose the information in Supreme court?

What are they trying to hide? Further evidence that the government is playing every advantage that they can to make this case go away.

Anonymous said...

Bill, keep pounding on this issue. I hope it goes to trial, what a travesty if it doesn't.

Marian Wilson

Anonymous said...

Keep it coming Bill. Unlike some on your blog who are sort of smart ass, in discussing your reporting of events, I'm quite ready to hear what you hear and have you tell me what you saw.I cn wait for the judge to decide but like to have aidea of what is happening.

The loudest critic is the one who doesn't show up but in their minds know everything no matter what. What was it Sgt Friday of TV famehad to say" Just the facts mam:

Anonymous said...

Way to go Bill!
The other great travesty is CanWest's part to commit a criminal conspiracy with the other players against the taxpayers and citizens of this great province of British Columbia who are involved in the biggest political scandal in the history of BC maybe in Canada!
This goes all the way up to the Fed Libs.
S Harper selling out Canadians with the help of CanWest's non-reporting or disinformation!

Anonymous said...

My question to you Bill,

This trial must be costing a shitload to defend; any idea on how the BC Libs are bankrolling Basi and Virk to pay for it all ? The money has to come from somewhere and the money trail always leads to……..

Bill Tieleman said...

I cannot tell you at this point how the accused pay for their defence lawyers.

I do know generally that when government employees are charged with crimes connected to their work, the government will pay for their defence so long as they are found not guilty.

In some cases those employees are required to post collateral - such as homes - against potential costs should they be found guilty.

Gary Mason in the Globe and Mail in December 2006 stated this regarding David Basi's legal costs:

"Mr. Basi has spent $100,000 defending himself against the grow-op charges. The lawyer's fees for the breach-of-trust trial could amount to twice that."

Anonymous said...

The involvement of the Federal Government (LIBERAL 1993-up to the Raid)seems to not be getting the spotlight it certainly demands !
Further the federal (Liberal) transport & industry ministers. had their hands in this too.
Almost everyone involved in this "Watergate Scandal" was closely connected to the Paul Martin Team in BC from 1997.
These people now constitute the bulk of Dion's western and national political action team.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but feeling that the two recent articles on Campbell and how 'great' he is, one from the Globe and Mail, the other from Maclean's are somehow damage control over this issue.

Anonymous said...

In my minds eye, I visualize Gordon, sitting off in the corner, strumming his guitar, singing the phrases,--Oh-- I've been working on a Railroad-- all my live long days-- Oh-- I gave away a railroad--- just to pass the time away,--Oh-- can't you hear the whistle blowing---onto the U-S-A-- Yes-- Ive been working on a railroad-- all my live long days.

Budd Campbell said...

"Defence warns Premier Gordon Campbell will face "ample" cross-examination ... "

A pleasant prospect! This would be enjoyable, if nothing else.

However, the issuance of this threat does tend to increase the resolve of the Liberals to see this matter go away, by hook or by crook.

RossK said...

The 'smoking gun' piece by Gerry Bellett in the VSun has now gone NaPo.

Can't help but wonder if the media times, they are a changin'.....


(me, I prefer the term 'real stuff' myself rather than the firearms metaaphor - details over at my place for anybody interested)

Anonymous said...

Well, its almost Christmas and I've seen none of this in the local papers, not a big surprise. We'll have no democracy in this province as long as we have a "free press" whose incompetence borders on conspiracy. BC Rail was mine, I owed it and I counted on it to serve the needs of this province, I never gave anyone permission to sell, lease or give it away to anyone.