Monday, December 03, 2012

BASI-VIRK: Shocking omissions admitted in BC Supreme Court in Auditor General application, John van Dongen intervention

How did a senior government lawyer make serious errors in sworn evidence aoubt detalis of BC's most scandalous case - the Basi-Virk/BC Rail/BC Legislature Raid - that were only uncovered months later, and just days before final arguments in BC Supreme Court? 

Richard Butler: "I have no explanation for how or why..... other than failure of memory and failure to go back and review the files at the times I made those misstatements."

Independent MLA John van Dongen interviewed by Bill Tieleman outside BC Supreme Court
The Basi-Virk Case has been described in this blog before as an opportunity to enter the Twilight Zone existing between BC politics and the law.

Submitted for your consideration: a senior government lawyer dealing with the most sensitive, explosive and biggest scandal in decades admits he made shockingly inaccurate statements under oath and is forced to cough up a lengthy mea culpa just days before a BC Supreme Court hearing connected to how the BC Liberal government paid the $6 million legal fees of two ministerial assistants who made guilty pleas to corruption charges.

The indemnification of legal fees for David Basi and Bob Virk - the two ex-aides who made a surprise guilty plea after years of professing their innocence - is being investigated by BC's independent Auditor General John Doyle.  

The issue: why did Basi and Virk get their lawyers' bills paid off by the government when they admitted to breach of trust and fraud over leaking confidential documents to lobbyists for one of the bidders in the $1 billion BC Rail privatization in 2003 by ex-Premier Gordon Campbell?  

The guilty, so the rules allegedly go, have to pay their own legal costs.  But then again, we are back in the Twilight Zone, where nothing is as it first appears.

And when it comes to explaining such mysteries, the government has not been cooperating, hence the legal battle where Doyle is asking BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman to grant his office access to billing documents the government wants kept private.

Enter one John van Dongen, a former BC Liberal cabinet minister and Solicitor General no less, who became disillusioned with how the Basi-Virk case was handled by his own government and in March 2012 quit the party in part because of it.

The independent MLA, like the Auditor General, wasn't buying the smoke and mirrors game and paid for his own lawyer to seek intervenor status in Doyle's court application to force disclosure of details of the legal bills of not only Basi and Virk but other government employees who also faced charges and had their costs covered.

In fact, van Dongen previously claimed the government was "stonewalling" the Auditor General by fighting disclosure all the way.

And in BC Supreme Court Monday, van Dongen had his suspicions confirmed once again in spades that the Basi-Virk case still has lots of skeletons in its closet.

An affidavit filed by Richard Butler on November 16 was discussed in court because the veteran government lawyer working in the Ministry of Justice was forced to admit a series of substantial errors in his own previous affidavit regarding how Basi and Virk's legal bills were handled.

The embarrassing admission vindicated van Dongen's belief that the Auditor General should be granted full access to all files - something the government is fighting in court.

"It's a very significant development at this stage of the hearing - it confirms why we need an audit," van Dongen told me in an interview at the conclusion of the hearing Monday afternoon.

"The government could have spared themselves a lot of trouble by sharing these documents with the Auditor General in the first place," he said.  "The taxpayers have spent a lot of money here."

Indeed they have.  While van Dongen personally paid for his veteran lawyer Roger McConchie to intervene on his behalf, at least five other lawyers were all attending at taxpayer expense - on both sides of the court case.

But the showstopper wasn't the argument made by Doyle's lawyer Louis Zivot  that alternatives to the full disclosure remedy sought were "unpalatable to the Auditor General" or other dry legal arguments made on either side.

No, it was the affidavit filed by Butler.

"What's significant is that Butler admits misstatement in a very important document at the heart of the case," says van Dongen.  

Indeed.  Butler's 19-page document is filled with legal niceties and the most neutral language possible but ultimately confesses to a major screw up.

"I am surprised by these errors for a number of reasons," Butler's affidavit states, regarding his previous evidence regarding how Basi and Virk's legal bills were reviewed for payment.  

"I have no explanation for how or why, in making the statements referred to in paragraph 15, above, I said the certificates did not have statements of account attached when in fact, they were required to, and did, attach statements of account and other documentation - other than failure of memory and failure to go back and review the files a the times I made those misstatements," Butler writes.
None of which is to say Butler has done anything except correct the record on his own admitted mistakes, and rightly so.

But the appearance of such an admission in a case full of unanswered questions can only fuel further the commitment of NDP leader Adrian Dix to launch an inquiry into the entire episode, should he become premier next May.

If so, Dix and the public will owe some gratitude to van Dongen, the Abbotsford-South MLA, who has been a dog with a bone on the Basi-Virk file.



Anonymous said...

This still stinks years later...smells like a cover up.

Anonymous said...

So a top government lawyer SWEARS an affidavit in the political scandal of the decade and the affidavit turns out to be false.

What's even the point of having affidavits then?

Anonymous said...

Nine LONG Years ago when all this officially started who would have thought we would all be still stuck in the mud and no closer today to the truth or even the justice of this private-public criminal enterprise.

The one common denominator in all of this has been the BC Liberal government's never ending legal and public-affairs cover-up of the Keystone Cops investigation and phony trial.

But this cover-up would have crashed and burned long ago without the pivotal help of BC's mainstream media.

Since December 28, 2003, you could not open a website, a newspaper or turn on a radio or TV without observing BC's media fart-catchers running shotgun for Gordon or Christy.

Since the up-lift of "Chesty" Clark to the Premier's office, BC has suffered an invasion of media types ($$$) moving into government in order to protect BC's Imelda Marcos from public and judicial wrath.

And yesterday, true to form we got Ben Chin . . . which likely indicates we will now have politically-correct affirmative-action-groupies spinning and running out the truth for the Empress of BC.

All that's missing is the Klingon Warrior Princess, but wait we still have six months.


Anonymous said...

So, is anyone going to jail yet? What about all the wasted taxpayer dollars? Anyone gonna pay that back?

No? Thought not. Then where is the motivation for truthfulness from any of these bozos?

Anonymous said...

I am sure we can all see? Canada has become a very shameful, disgraceful, corrupt country. In this country, corrupt politicians are rewarded for their dirty work.

Campbell has the most foul and corrupt political record, in the recorded history of this Nation. However, Harper rewarded Campbell for his dirty work. Campbell too, lied and cheated to win his elections.

That's what we are up against. A country and a province, that have no ethics nor morals, what-so-ever. There was nothing beneath Campbell and Harper's dignity, they didn't do. Both of them, would fit right into, the Honduras, China, North Korea and the Congo, with ease.

scotty on Denman said...

BC Rail cries out for public inquiry without which lies, corruption and impunity become inseparably blended ingredients in the only soup evermore on our political menu. Dix correctly realizes the inquiry must encompass all the elements involved and has wisely refrained from political stumping on the issue leading up to next spring's election.

Because the precedences of BC Rail cannot be permitted to stand, the BC Liberal legal rope-a-dope strategy of evading culpability must inevitably fail. Its damning characteristics of "memory loss" and culprit replacement designed to protect government muck-a-mucks shows how much the BC Liberals rely on systemic legal loopholes to drag out proceedings as long as it takes to let people forget. Under the broader spotlight of public inquiry, the hope is as faint as the strategy is lame.

The BC Liberals have already lost the political aspect of BC Rail and we know about crimes as yet untried. The importance of public inquiry is its broad mandate to deal, like a coroner, not with criminal deterrence specific to BC Rail, but with systemic legal deficiencies that create opportunities to evade justice with impunity. The last thing it needs to be is political.

Leah said...

Until there is a politician IN POWER who says there will be a full inquiry "with consequences" for those found guilty - we'll never get to the truth cuz no one has a damn thing to lose. They need to lose it all - everything - if found guilty. We might have a few birdies willing to sing then - including the justice types.

Anonymous said...

Let's bring on the full BC Rail fraud inquiry and uncover the fraudulent details about the Basi -- Virk payoff.Hope to see you charged with fraud after your party loses the next election.
Former MLA Collin Hansen was going to sing like a canary when the libs paid Basi and Virk hush money to have the whole thing put to bed.The liberals hoped the BC taxpayers normally being passive and gullible would forget about the sale fraud scandal that made lawyer and lobbyist very wealthy

Anonymous said...

That would be Gary "the ferret" Collins who was crapping himself at the thought of having to testify just before the dirty deal was made.
If things had not gone according to the plan good old Gary and a bunch of others would probably be in jail playing hide the wiener with some rapist.

Anonymous said...

Bring on a Quebec style Anti- Corruption Commission...this Provincial Government as a whole, needs to appear, by subpeona if necessary.

The coming "judicial inquiry" has tohave the scope and the teeth to go after these clowns, and provide for jail sentences and enactment of the proceeds from crime legislation. Think of the taxpayer resources that have been wasted by this government!