Thursday, February 17, 2011

BC Legislature Raid wiretaps suggest Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini paid $75,000 to fly Young Liberals to Paul Martin leadership convention

Bill Tieleman outside BC Supreme Court - Lyle Stafford photo
EXCLUSIVE: BC Legislature Raid case wiretaps suggest Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini paid $75,000 for Harmony Airways flight taking BC Young Liberals to convention that picked Prime Minister Paul Martin

BC Legislature Raid case police documents released Thursday suggest that the owner of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team paid $75,000 for a Harmony Airways flight taking federal Young Liberal Party members to the party leadership convention in 2003 that made Paul Martin prime minister.

In a wiretapped cell phone conversation November 7, 2003, fraud-convicted ex-BC government aides David Basi and Bob Virk excitedly and obscenely discuss how Francesco Aquilini had come up with the money to pay for the flight to the November 12-15, 2003.

The wiretaps are part of thousands of pages of police evidence against Basi and Virk but have never been made public before, nor has the information they contain been entered into court and subject to examination by Crown and defence.

At the time Vancouver real estate developer Aquilini, head of the Aquilini Investment Group, was negotiating to buy the Canucks from Seattle billionaire John McCaw with the assistance of senior lawyer Lyall Knott.

Police wiretap transcripts also indicate that someone named “Lyle” worked with Basi on the Aquilini flight funding.

Harmony Airways was closed in March 2007 and owner David Ho was charged in September 2009 with unlawful confinement, possession of illegal drugs and a loaded 9mm Glock pistol. Ho owns luxury car dealership MCL Motor Cars and the University Golf Club.

Basi’s former boss, ex-BC Liberal Finance Minister Gary Collins, left government in 2004 to become Harmony’s CEO but quit in December 2006 before the firm crashed.

I first broke the story of the chartered flight to Toronto in my then-Georgia Straight newspaper column published January 8, 2004 – but there was no indication then that Aquilini or Knott were in any way involved at that time.

At that time I interviewed then-federal Liberal Party BC President Bill Cunningham about the flight. Here’s an excerpt from my column then:

“In another development, Bill Cunningham, president of the Liberal party of Canada in B.C., confirmed reports to the Straight that an HMY Airways jet was chartered at a cost of about $90,000 to fly predominantly Young Liberal delegates to the November 12-15, 2003, leadership convention in Toronto.”

“Cunningham said in a telephone interview that the Young Liberals did their own fundraising for the flight, with between 200 and 215 people on board the aircraft. He said the effective price for the flight was $419. That would put the cost at between $83,800 and $90,085. In addition, delegates had to pay for hotel accommodations, food, and convention fees that ranged from $785 to $1,100 each.”

“Cunningham said that despite rumours he has heard connected to the police investigation, he has no concerns about fundraising by the Young Liberals and said the Liberal party would disclose all details as required by law.”

"I don't want to say there's no way we could be used for wrongdoing, but I can't see it," Cunningham said.”

The intercepted telephone conversation between Basi and Virk is part of a set of documents ordered released only to media accredited to the BC Supreme Court by Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie in response to an application filed by the Globe and Mail newspaper  and CTV BC News. I was able to access the documents today at the offices of Special Prosecutor team lawyers Janet Winteringham and Andi MacKay.

Basi and Virk entered surprise guilty pleas and received a sentence of two years house arrest – and sparked an ongoing controversy when it was revealed that the BC Liberal government paid their $6 million legal defence fees despite their acknowledgement of serious wrongdoing.

I continue to believe that only an independent public inquiry can get to the bottom of the many, many questions left unanswered by this case.

The full wiretapped transcript is as follows. Note that police wiretaps often use phonetic spelling, which is uncorrected here.


BOB VIRK: Hey, it’s Bob.

BASI: Hey.

VIRK: What’s up?

BASI: Fuck, Franchesco FRANCOLINI (sic) came through for the flight for the young Liberals for seventy-five thousand bucks.

VIRK: All covered?

BASI: Yeah.

VIRK: Holy.

BASI: I, I worked with Lyle (sic) on that. That’s why I was, I gotta confirm now, right? That’s why I was, that’s one of the reasons I was really pissed. There’s no credit given to us. Do you know how much we’ve nurtured that relationship with Lyle and Francesco?

VIRK: Um-hmm.

BASI: That fucking guy calls this office and I fucking jump twenty stories.

VIRK: Um-hmm.

BASI: He’s also negotiating today to buy the Canucks.

VIRK: He’s what?

BASI: Negotiating to buy the Canucks.

VIRK: Yeah, I know. He told me.

BASI: Today they’re, they’re, they’re actually in a meeting right now.

VIRK: Buddy, I, I, dont’ have to tell you that’d be the dream job, okay?

BASI: Vice President, Government Relations.

VIRK: I’ll be, I’ll be your bitch, whatever I have to do, man.

BASI: Come here, boy!

VIRK: I’ll be , I’ll be, I’ll be Adam and I’ll bring your danish.

BASI: Danish, fuck (indecipherable). Well, I’ll call you back, okay?

VIRK: Okay.

BASI: Bye.



Skookum1 said...

...ordered released only to media accredited to the BC Supreme Court...

It's good that at least you, Bill, are among the "media accredited to the BC Supreme Court" which is a really curious situation, where the supposedly-independent media have to be approved by a court process; a court process that is controlled by four (and four only) representatives from the media monopolies. In other words, the media monopolies control who is in charge of the "accreditation" by the BCSC.

Who else, other than you, is among those? Ben Meisner? Sean Holman? We know who they won't approve, namely various "citizen journalists" who were often the only attendees in Courtroom 54, when the major media in control of "accreditation" were nowhere to be seen.

You, at least, went looking for something other than the Liberal Party's somewhere-over-the-rainbow-pot-of-gold "Clark and Falcon and Campbell have been exonerated and Basi and Virk are the only crooks" statements which came out within a few minutes of the release of how many pages. We know they're not looking for anything else, nor do they care if anything other than the mainstream media cabal find anything, including this tidbit you've found.....keep digging Bill! - even in this pile of Crown-controlled-information-as-vetted-by-the-Special-Prosecutor hobblegobble that nobody but "accredited" media are permitted to look at.

But it's not like the "accredited media", other than yourself, are going to report on anything that you or any other independent, if "accredited" journalist, are going to find....

We are being buried in lies and officially-contrived deception. All to keep a party in power, most of whom should have been in court, as defendants, long ago, and should have appeared as witnesses and not able to claim, as they often do, that certain Defence allegations "have not been tested or proven in court"....nor approved for the public, to see, hear, feel touch.

To serve whose interests? Surely not the public's; the public are only allowed to know what the court will release, and only through the veil that the media-cabal in charge of "accreditation" permits.

Norm Farrell said...

Damn, was I ever born too soon. When I raised money for UBC Liberals to attend the 1968 Liberal leadership convention in Ottawa, the money was coming in multiples (tiny ones) of ten.

Ron1 said...

Was Sean Holman, of Liberal Eye Online fame, one of the Young Liberals who received this benefit?

Anonymous said...

Wire Taps released -

Mulgrew said Basi was aware of grow opp in his rental home !!!!

From: Steve Dockeray
Sent: Friday, February 18, 2011 10:01 AM
To: b bill ; ; nw ws ; nwnews ; programming com
Subject: So if Basi knew he had a grow opp in his rental home -- then the charges of marijuana cultivation for the purpose of trafficking against basi were correct ie: Why were the charges stayed & who stayed the charges ie: who stepped in to protect basi from the

So if Basi knew he had a grow opp in his rental home -- then the charges of marijuana cultivation for the purpose of trafficking against basi were correct ie: Why were the charges stayed & who stayed the charges ie: who stepped in to protect basi from the Drug charges etc. ?

1)Were Gordon Campbell , Mike Dejong & any other GORDON CAMPBELL Gov. Members aware of the information in wire taps when they decided to pay the 6 million in Legal fees ?

2) Would any of this wire tap info have come out in the court case & could the 6 million buck pay off stopped the drug info from coming out in the trial etc. ?

steve dockeray
milner bc

Eleanor Gregory said...

I agree with you Bill that there should be an independent public inquiry.

Anonymous said...

A bit old.

Martin is long gone and the federal Young Liberals aren't much of what they used to be.

This only states the obvious that Basi was playing Power Boy.

Outsourced said...

The "news" is old. We all knew that the prosecution was trying to show that Basi and Virk were the sole perps. What else could they do but try to marshall all the evidence they could to show that there were only two. If there was any evidence to the contrary, it had to be concealed/downplayed/ignored, otherwise they didn't have a case.

That's the job of the prosecution - to make a case. And the "news team", i.e., readers, could have written what they did months/years ago. Good and Co., ran with the prosecution lie. Anyone who disbelieves is a "conspiracy" buff.

What is really important, is the defense case and what evidence they have. They must have had something to hold out so long. Or maybe not so much. Who knows?

From what I have seen as a causal observer, there seems to be one hell of a lot of unanswered questions that will not be answered without a public inquiry.

If the case was so good against Basi and Virk, why settle - unless there was something to cover up. Why were the people charged who bribed public officials? Etc., etc..

For now, the news readers can gloat about having it right all the time and how the "bloggers" were all wrong.

There are a lot of vested interests in keeping this "story" suppressed.

And what a coincidence that the politicians running for Liberal leadership were all exonerated - well sort off. Christy meow Clark still looks pretty creepy with her brother and ex-husband so involved in the dirt.

What should be focused on is the history of broken promises, the privitization of our future and the growing deficit caused by tax give-a ways and corruption.

Anonymous said...

What should be focused on is the history of broken promises, the privitization of our future and the growing deficit caused by tax give-a ways and corruption.

What should be focused on is the nice day we have today and tomorrow, and move on to other things other than than BC Rail.

So how is Aquilini tied to BC Rail sale? Not at all, but the common demoninator is once again Basi, whose power plays were well known to federal Liberals.

So time to move to the NDP Leadership.

What motivated Dix to get into politics in the first place?

jaydee said...

Don't forget there was another 'government accredited' journalist who was banned from the proceedings....Robin Mathews. He is another expert on the BCRail theft and he posts at BC Mary's.

Ron1 said...


Was Aquilini's donation to the BC fiberals reported to Elections BC?

Is there any record before 2005 donations - which are now on the elections Bc web site?

I wonder if the police documents tell us more about the Liberal government's dirty tricks campaigns?

Anonymous said...

After reading, Alex Tsakumis blog. Campbell and the Clark's look worse than ever. They were all smiles and said, they were totally exonerated from any wrong doing, regarding Campbell's corrupt sale of the BCR. Oh no they are not, by what I read on Alex's blog. There will be a lot more information, from Alex next week.

With the House of Infamy's blog site shut down by google. Who knows how many more bloggers will have their sites shut down. There seems to be, too much truth coming out, to suit some people. That we are stuck with the Liberals, until 2013. We will be forced to put up with, a dictator regime. Harper is also, trying to stifle adverse comments. It was also said, he will have his own media propaganda, to toot his horn. Freedom and Democracy?? Where in the hell has that gone??


Anonymous said...

I agree there is a need for a public inquiry on BC Rail,

Not sure what Aquallini has to do with this. If he wants to waste money on stuff like this: "whatever floats his boat".

outsourced said...

Ron1 said..."Was Aquilini's donation to the BC fiberals reported to Elections BC?"

It would have had to be reported at the federal level, no? Was it reported? What are the consequences for failing to report? Does it matter now?

I guess for these guys and Christy, the political party and ideology makes no difference. Its just who they can control to get what they want - which is more money and to hell with anything and everyone else. In bed with the devil...

Anonymous said...

What a couple of potty mouthed boys. No class at all.

What, all you have to do is put on a suit and an acceptable noose, and someone will hire you?

Who hired them anyways? And what did they promise you?

DPL said...

I seem to recall that Collins hired Basi, and speaking of Collins, the Globe has an article today telling us that Collins was looking forward to appearing in court and was surprised when Basi and Verk blamed themselves, got the legal bills paid and lost nothing of value in the deal They even threw in the bit about him being a pilot( yes, a flying instructor as so many of us other mortals were or still are)

Anonymous said...



Bill Tieleman said...

Only a small sample of the nearly 8,000 Basi wiretaps were released.

Several media members have previously stated they expected to be on wiretaps, since Dave Basi was the government's front man on BC Rail politics.

Bill Tieleman said...

To Skookum1 - there is a process of accreditation set up through the BC Supreme Court with the assistance of some senior reporters who cover the courts.

I do not know all the members of the media who are accredited but I received my accreditation last year.

There is a dispute unresolved over Robin Mathews application to be accredited as a "blogger".

Outsourced said...

"It all stinks. And the case for a public inquiry has never been stronger."

Read more:

I thought the whole thing was going to be swept aside for at least 10 years! I guess not. Michael might make other people in the MSM think a little.

But still the obvious point it that none of the principals were "cleared" in any way. The police have gathered and presented some evidence. But none of it has been subjected to any test. The police investigation and Special prosecutor's role are themselves in serious question. To conclude that anyone has been cleared is very curious and maybe very misleading. Police evidence needs to be seriously examined in the light of all the other issues and questions that have been raised.

And, THAT is why there needs to be a public inquiry.

My fear now is that the Lieberals will rush to an "inquiry" headed by Wally Oppal or someone else who is tied to the Lieberals before they loose power.

Wally is a nice enough guy, but we need an "independent" inquiry. Only the NDP can be trusted to strike a truly independent inquiry.

Anonymous said...

"What a couple of potty mouthed boys. No class at all. "

Welcome to the viewing room of Political Hacks.

"What, all you have to do is put on a suit and an acceptable noose, and someone will hire you?"

Pretty much. You have to convince the Minister and MLAs that you're the best thing for BC since White Spot came back. Political experience in campaign offices does not matter, nor does an apperication for the Ministry subject and you're wanting to serve the province.

"Who hired them anyways? And what did they promise you?"

Ministers hire these hacks. Same thing occured during the NDPs time and wil again. Every Minister has Ministerial Assistants, but few of those MAs actually have anything of value. Many come from the political parties.

The worst were regional organizers.

Wait for the NDP to come to power. They will do the same.

But not as bad as these two. Best example of what not to hire anywhere even for stuffing envelopes in a campaign office.