Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Railgate's Last Gasp...So If We'd Finished The Trial Would We Have Saved Money?


The latest, from Charlie Smith, in the GStraight:

B.C. AUDITOR GENERAL Russ Jones has proposed that the provincial government require people to waive solicitor-client privilege "for audit purposes" if taxpayers are going to foot their legal bills.

It's one of 10 recommendations arising out of Jones's just-released review of special indemnities covering private legal costs.

He also noted that the $6.4-million defence of Dave Basi and Bob Virk could have cost an additional $2 million.

That money was saved when the two B.C. Liberal ministerial aides pleaded guilty to lesser charges in 2010 in their corruption trial.

Halting the trial meant that 40 witnesses did not have to appear in court...


But if we had finished the trial and Mess'rs Virk and Basi had been found guilty wouldn't the province  have been under no obligation to pay court costs to the accused (i.e. the $6 million)?


Apparently, the government of British Columbia saw it that way at the time.

Specifically, the following is a passage of a letter from the Ministry of the Attorney General of British Columbia, dated April 19th, 2011 that was sent to a reader of ours (who then passed it along to us):

"...Indemnity coverage of Dave Basi and Bobby Virk's legal expenses was granted under and in accordance with the requirements of the Financial Administration Act and Guarantees and Indemnities Regulation. Under that authority, the then-Deputy Minister of Finance, Tamara Vrooman, set terms and conditions for coverage, which Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk each agreed to.

Among the conditions was that if an indemnified person were convicted, he would become liable to repay the amounts paid on his behalf under the indemnity. His predecessor having imposed that condition, Deputy Minister of Finance Graham Whitmarsh had the authority to amend the indemnities by removing it..."


Now, please go back and read the second paragraph, in red above, one more time.

Especially this part....

"...if an indemnified person were convicted, he would become liable to repay the amounts paid on his behalf under the indemnity..."



Based on the above, I can only surmise that, had we had gone ahead with the trial it would have cost us another $ 2 million.


Presuming that Messr's Basi and Virk had been found guilty at the trial's conclusion we would not have been forced to pay them $6 million.

Which means that the potential 'cost' of completing the trial and getting to the bottom of things would have been....

An actual savings to us of, again potentially, $4 million.


Funny that this is not the way this has been played by the media types on the Twittmachine so far.

Then again, what do I know given that I am, apparently, one of those cultish 'conspiracy theorists'.

Regardless.....Even if it had been $6 million + $2 million + another million or two in exchange for putting those 40 or more finest of the fine folks on the witness stand, under oath, to find out what really went down....Well....What did that Bogus Bollywood thing cost us again....And what did we get for that, exactly?



Anonymous said...

It's the end of a long story that still makes me feel ill Ross.

And the MSM types crowing about it all being above board is revolting.

But there are other stories coming down the pipe. - Merv

Anonymous said...

A term of the indemnity agreements, as originally granted, was that Mr. Basi and Mr.
Virk would be required to repay their defence costs if they were convicted and when
the period for appeal had expired. However, two days after they entered guilty pleas and
were convicted, the Deputy Attorney General issued a public statement saying that he
and the Deputy Minister of Finance had decided, prior to the conviction, to release Mr.
Basi and Mr. Virk from any obligation to repay over $6 million in legal defence costs.

RossK said...

Merv --

Agreed - very much so.



"...the Deputy Attorney General issued a public statement saying that he
and the Deputy Minister of Finance had decided, prior to the conviction, to release Mr.
Basi and Mr. Virk from any obligation to repay over $6 million in legal defence costs..."

And therein lies the rub.

Because no matter whether the protocol was, as the good Mr. Baldrey is now describing it, 'above board', the way it actually went down, as described by the good Mr. Loukidelis at the time and the good Mr. Plant soon thereafter, led me to conclude that there was, indeed, a prior inducement.

Most specifically, the following statement by former Attorney General Plant, written on his own blog, is the reason that I came to that conclusion:

"...It was done very, very carefully, to make sure the rules were followed. But it was understood that with guilty pleas, the claim to fee recovery would be waived..."


Lew said...

A quick read of the Auditor General’s report reveals several inconsistencies, such as stating on page 44 that Legal Services Branch considered the request from the perspective of how the potential obligation to repay was interfering with the Special Prosecutor’s ability to bring the prosecution to an appropriate conclusion, and then on page 45 that the release agreement was kept distinct and separate from Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk’s negotiations and agreement with the Special Prosecutor because Legal Services Branch was concerned only with the administration of the special indemnities. But if the amendment (and its administration) was constructed only because the original was an impediment to the prosecution, how could it be separate from the negotiations? Especially given the statements on the same page that the Agreement to Release amended the indemnity but was conditional on fulfillment of the agreement with the Special Prosecutor. They are inextricably linked, no matter how they wrote it up.

Note the reference to “an appropriate conclusion”. Isn’t the judge tasked by law with making that determination? According to this report, the judge and the Special Prosecutor were the only parties to the proceeding that didn’t know about the deal and that the defendants would not even think about pleading guilty unless the $6 million liability was waived. In other words, they were deliberately kept in the dark about what can only be described as an inducement; an inducement that would have prevented the judge from legally accepting the pleas. It’s like when you take the training wheels off your kid’s bike, but run along secretly behind with your hand on the seat and she mistakenly thinks she’s doing it all by herself. The Auditor General attempts to excuse the inducement by saying the defense shot first (page 46), but the agreement is clear; plead guilty or no waiver. And according to his deputy, at the time the judge accepted the Statement of Facts (missing some key facts), and the assurances of the defendants that their pleas were voluntary, the Attorney General of this fine province also knew of the deal.

If the deal was completely separate and had nothing to do with the prosecution, then why according to the Auditor General, were “…public servants diligently keeping the decision to amend the indemnities separate and distinct from the plea negotiations with the Special Prosecutor…”? Why not just tell him? Surely they weren’t interfering in the prosecution of a case were a Special Prosecutor had been appointed under the Crown Counsel Act?

Or were they? Remember the words of Mr. Plant, Attorney General at the time the original charges were laid. “Congratulate the government for having had the wisdom and the courage to seize an opportunity to bring the case to an end.”

RossK said...


Thanks very, very much for going through the report and pointing out the inconsistencies as well as providing us with an analysis.

Will have a more detailed look myself and think about working on a new post.


cfvua said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
RossK said...

cfvua said...

Couldn't agree more (Ross). When did the fine folks become so worried about a $million or two here and there? Unbridled careless spending on subsidies, incentives and advertising mean nothing to these folks, but apparently a few million to get at the truth is offside?? What good hands we are in. Right and wrong mean nothing. For Christmas I suggest gifts of whistles for any that might feel the urge to blow. There has to be one that with the right amount of holiday cheer would speak up. I hope.


(edited by me...bit in the bracket above)

e.a.f. said...

the bollywood event got christy clark a lot of photo ops. to her it was worth it. for those of us who pay taxes, not so much.

As to the $6 million paid to Mr. Basi and Mr. Verk. At some level it was worth it. when that little deal was made it was clear to some of us how desperate the lieberals were to end the trial. We had had people on the stand who were suffering from some sort of dementia. if others followed, they might have all been declared ill. In the grand scheme of wasted dollars by the lieberals, $6M. isn't much. Think of the cost over runs on the Convention Centre and the roof on B.C. Place. The $100 million and more we pay for the highway to Whistler. The list goes on. The audit report, in my opinion isn't that great, but it white washes the liberals and that is all that matters.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable white wash by the Auditor-General. And then the echo chamber MSM.

Basi and Virk were settled in for a fight to the end. They would never have pleaded guilty without an inducement. But it was too good a deal to pass up. They would have been crazy not to accept it.

Sad to see that we don't live in a province with rule of law.