Saturday, December 29, 2018

Railgate Revisited v2 - The Charges.


As we noted yesterday, the Railgate saga 'officially' began on December 28, 2003, the day the British Columbia legislature was raided by the RCMP.

The charges, such as they were, did not come out until a full year later in December of 2004, which some cynics said conveniently ensured no trial before the following spring's provincial election.

Mark Hume had the story of the charges in the Globe and (nolongerEmpire) Mail:

One year after police raided offices in the British Columbia Legislature, two former ministerial aides and a third person connected to the government have been charged with multiple counts in a breach-of-trust investigation.

Former aides David Basi and Robert Virk are charged with three counts of fraud on the government, two counts of fraud and one count of breach of trust by a public officer, the B.C. criminal justice branch announced yesterday.

Aneal Basi, a public affairs officer in the B.C. Ministry of Transportation for the past three years, has been charged with one count of fraud on the government and one count of breach of trust by a public officer...


...A summary of the case against David Basi and Mr. Virk that was released in September alleged the two men had been trading in stolen government documents related to B.C. government plans to sell BC. Rail and Roberts Bank, a bulk coal-loading facility connected to the railway.

The case summary alleged that David Basi and Mr. Virk delivered confidential documents to a third party, apparently in the hopes of furthering their aspirations to win chief-of-staff positions with the Liberal government in Ottawa.

Police executed nine search warrants at the time they raided the legislature, including offices of public-relations experts and key Liberal officials in British Columbia. But in court documents subsequently released, police stated that only David Basi and Mr. Virk were the subjects of the breach-of-trust investigation...

Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk were the only subjects of the breech-of-trust investigation?

Sure thing.


At the time the charges came down in late 2004 the story was being covered pretty much exclusively*, by the proMedia and, as Barbara McLintock noted in the Tyee, their coverage, and the response it engendered in the general public was underwhelming to say the least:

...(W)hen three political appointees are faced with criminal charges pretty well unheard of in the province, the reaction should still perhaps be more than a polite yawn. The lack of outrage, both in the media and, it would seem in the B.C. public, over the accusations against Dave Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi is somewhat remarkable.

One can only hope that the disinterested shrugs from the citizenry do not mean that a significant number of British Columbians have come to accept that bribery, corruption and money-laundering are just part of the way business is too-often carried out in British Columbia – as if we were some third-rate banana republic somewhere...


What were the few outraged Lotuslandians to do when nothing happened for years and proMedia outlet editors sent them letters like the following one that BC Mary received when she had the temerity to raise the lack of coverage with an esteemed editor:

Dear Ms. Mary:

There was indeed a pretrial appearance by Basi, Virk et al yesterday. Our reporter staffed the appearance, and nothing of note happened. As is the case in such instances, the reporter consulted with his editor and did not write a story. When there is news, we plan to report it.

Lucinda Chodan
Victoria Times Colonist
2621 Douglas St.
Victoria, B.C. V8T 4M2

Why, according to the Glimmer Twins, Messers Baldrey and Palmer...

Form a cult!

*Except of course for Bill Tieleman, the left-sided prop man who pretty much played this one straight-up, initially in the GStraight  before he set up his own shop/blog...And then there was Sean Holman, whose PublicEye Online was just starting to build when the charges arrived (and were noted by him for posterity). 
We were extremely saddened to hear that Ms. McLintock passed away this week after 14 years with the provincial coroners' office.



Lew said...

Recent high-profile cases involving drug and money laundering have demonstrated that prosecutors will not charge or proceed with cases for which they do not anticipate a high likelihood of conviction.

The indictment against Basi and Virk, sworn on January 28, 2005, came after more than a year of investigation by a special prosecutor and his team that included execution of multiple search warrants after the one on the Legislature. Given the extremely high stakes and profile of the case it is certain that the prosecutorial team here was confident of the facts contained in the indictment. This could only be because they had evidence to support it.

Counts 3 and 4 of the indictment contained the term “and employment opportunities” as part of the alleged benefits received. Counts 7 and 8 of the indictment contained the term “including Cabinet confidences” as part of the information alleged to have been disclosed. These benefits and disclosures could obviously only happen with the involvement of very senior officials. The reaction of Gary Collins when read the consultant’s briefing notes by the RCMP regarding Cabinet discussions was telling. He didn’t see how the information could come from anyone who hadn’t been in the room.

But on October 18th, 2010 the references to “employment opportunities”, and “Cabinet confidences” were hand-deleted from the indictment as part of the plea deal accepted by Justice MacKenzie. Any ties to individuals higher up the chain than Basi and Virk had been removed. As no evidence had been presented, and no testimony offered regarding those elements, those individuals were safe.

There were two sets of plea negotiations. One involved the special prosecutors team and defence counsel, and one involved the government and defence counsel. The latter was secret and resulted in a legal agreement that said the pleas had to be made in accordance with the requirements of the special prosecutor in exchange for release from liability for over $6.4 million in accumulated legal fees. It was illegal, but that is another matter.

The question that arises here is who in the negotiations pushed for removal of the ties to senior officials? The terms should not have made any difference to the judge in terms of recommended sentence. The special prosecutor must have been certain of the facts or he wouldn’t have included them in the initial indictment. That leaves the defence and the government. The sanctions under the law would have been no more severe for the defendants had the terms remained. But the implications for senior government officials were significant.

So who wanted the terms removed? And adding another “W” to the pile, why?

RossK said...


Excellent questions and a most thorough bit of deduction that is difficult to argue with re: the hand deleter (or deleters).

For those interested in reading the original charges with all of their counts they can be found in Sean Holman's most excellent archives....Here (scroll down).


e.a..f. said...

When I saw the raids, got out of my sick bed and phoned my friends. Never saw that before. Figured el gordo had been up to something. Then word came it was related to a drug case. What always bothered me, is not much came of that but we did get "rail gate" and who were the people "involved", no politicians, just hired guys. But then I remember one of those hired guys in all the pictures with the cabinet minister, whose name escapes me, a female and wondered how did that all happen? Like what did she know? Just 3 guys and no one else. In my opinion, those guys just didn't start this on their own. They worked for cabinet ministers and the cabinet ministers knew nothing? Reminded me of Sargent Schultz, I know nothing, I know nothing. Then the trial started and it was all, I have no recollection, I don't recall. it was as if there was a really bad flu season except it only effected memories. sort of like dementia for awhile.

Never believed any of it. B.C. Rail went to the company which was headed up by el gordo's bag man and the other land was up for grabs. There were so many media players. I still want to know what happened. I still would like my rail way back. Yes, it was mine and yours and every ones. it was a provincial asset. If nothing else accidents went up once it belonged to the other company. It stank then and it stinks now.

My goal in life was to live long enough to see el gordo come back in hand cuffs. Still have a few years in me..........

Lew said...

In addition to Basi and Virk there were six other government officials who received indemnities to cover legal expenses for the BC Rail trial.

It is extremely likely that several, if not all of them were cabinet members; including a Premier.

It would be reasonable to imagine that they and their lawyers just might have noticed possible links to them in the indictments. And just as reasonable to imagine them talking to certain other lawyers about what might be done about that.

The secret plea deal accomplished what I imagine would have been their desired best result given the circumstances.

Imagine that.

e.a.f. said...

wonder if we will ever find out who received these "indemnities". wonder if its written anywhere any member of the public could find it. doubt it or some would have found it and printed it. would be fun to know. Hey I deserve to be entertained. They used my tax dollars for all of it.

I still "wonder" so much about this case, especially when I'm listening to the song, "I Wonder" on Looking for Sugarman.

Lew said...

After the embarrassing questions concerning the Basi/Virk indemnities, the BCLiberals brought in new regulations to prevent that from happening in the future. Loosely translated(see section 29) they read something like this:

“Sit mutely in the corner while the big kids play with your toys.”

And e.a.f. If you do find out, don’t tell anyone. They made it illegal to do so.

e.a.f. said...

If I ever found out, I'd publish. Back in the day, you stood on street corners handing out election and political information. given if its illegal to make such information known, one would be back on the street corner handing it out, or going on facebook and anywhere you could until it was taken down.

At my age, what exactly are they going to do to me, if I find out and "share" the information? Really. Shooting me is against the law and oh so Un Canadian. Putting me in jail? doesn't really look good. Basi and Virk didn't go to jail and neither have a whole lot of "bad" guys in this province, as in real criminals. Fine me, good luck. The fun part of all of this is, if some one did find out and made it public, and there were penalties, they'd have to have a trial. What if the jury refused to find some one guilty?

One of the joys of being old is there isn't much any one can do to you. careers are over, kids have been raised, spousal units divorced, omg, that is funny, the thought of getting my hands on that information............When we have Crown prosecutors not willing to go to trial on all sorts of criminal acts, they'd send some old age pensioner to trial on freedom of speech..........I'm still laughing.

Lew said...

It’s only a laugh until you realize the joke’s on us.

Ken Barry said...

BC's judicial system would put any banana republic to shame. The Basi Verk trial was a template on how a sleazy and corrupt legal system really works.
I know from a business associate, who was involved with a company that Gary (the ferret)Collins worked for, that Gary was scared shitless of having to testify in this trail. He was next up when the trail was put on hold, the judges were changed, and the plea bargain deal was hatched. We all know what happened after this, the so called free press sat on their thumbs and the NDP again managed to go blind.

One thing that has puzzled me is that nobody has come up with was when the billion dollars, or any amount for that matter, was deposited in the BC Government account as payment for this BC Rail sale.

e.a.f. said...

True the joke is on us and that is no laughing matter, but the ability to get one's hands on the information and then publishing it, does make me laugh.

Ken Barry has a good question, when was the money deposited in the B. C. government account. My question is, was any money actually put into the B.C. government account.

The NDP is only being "permitted" to be the government for awhile, so the B.C. Lieberals can restructure their party. As Bob Williams once said back in the early 1990s, the NDP are the bastards of the political system. He went on to advise, when the NDP comes into office they needed to make all the changes they can because we'll be out again. To this day the only NDP government which made lasting changes was Barrett's government, of which Bob Williams was part of. In today's NDP government about the only one who understands that is Judy Darcy.