Monday, May 07, 2007

 

Press clippings following another day in Supreme Court on Mon. 7 May 2007

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HEATED INVESTIGATION REQUIRED MEDIATOR
Competing RCMP teams had to be talked through dispute over diverging theories on suspects


MARK HUME
The Globe and Mail - May 8, 2007

VANCOUVER -- Separate RCMP teams pursuing parallel drug and breach-of-trust investigations became so intensely competitive that a mediator had to be called in to keep them both on track, a Crown attorney in a political-corruption case told the Supreme Court of British Columbia yesterday.

Janet Winteringham, a member of the special prosecution team, talked about the internal police conflict as she opened the Crown's response to defence submissions made during the past two weeks.

Ms. Winteringham told Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett that the arguments the defence had put before the court were based on "a multiplicity of disputed facts ... [and] a number of inaccurate statements."

She said lawyers representing three government employees charged with breach of trust, fraud and money laundering related to the privatization of BC Rail presented a misleading picture based on an incomplete record of events.

"The entire submission ... is inaccurate," she said of a defence argument that the police tailored and targeted their investigation to focus on two ministerial aides - Dave Basi and Bobby Virk - while ignoring the activities of their political masters.

Ms. Winteringham said the defence was simply wrong when it stated that the investigation, code named Project Everywhichway, suddenly veered off course to target Mr. Basi, who was an aide to then-finance-minister Gary Collins, and Mr. Virk, who was an aide to Judith Reid, the transport minister.

In fact, she said, Mr. Basi emerged as an early person of interest in a drug investigation that was triggered when informants told the RCMP that the arrest, in May, 2002, of U.S. drug dealer Cirilo Lopez had created an opening for a new drug boss on Vancouver Island.

"The word on the street was that Jas Bains was going to be the person taking over," Ms. Winteringham said.

Mr. Bains is Mr. Basi's cousin.

That drug investigation identified Ravinder Singh Dosanjh, who was then a Victoria police constable, and Mandeep Singh Sandhu as other persons of interest. Both are related to Mr. Basi.

While tapping the phones of Mr. Dosanjh and Mr. Bains, the police intercepted calls to Mr. Basi, and soon formed a suspicion that he was being used to launder money, Ms. Winteringham said.

The police drug operation later spun off several investigations, and soon, the RCMP's Vancouver Island drug team and commercial crime units were developing different theories about what was happening.

Some investigators, she said, thought that Mr. Basi's boss, Mr. Collins, was a suspect in a scenario related to the alleged leaking of confidential government information about the pending sale of BC Rail.

But other investigators argued Mr. Collins wasn't a suspect, she said, and the defence contention that he was dropped because police didn't want to implicate any politicians was incorrect.

"Different investigators had different views as to whether Mr. Collins was under investigation," she said.

RCMP Inspector Kevin DeBruyckere, a lead investigator, "held the view that Mr. Collins was under investigation and he wanted to interview him immediately," she said.

But others argued Mr. Basi was the real target and Mr. Collins was an innocent bystander, unaware of the outside activities of his trusted aide.

"There wasn't a consensus between the investigators. There wasn't a tailoring and targeting away from the Liberal Party," she said.

Tensions built between the police teams, she said, because anti-corruption investigators "like to shake the tree," while drug investigators "want everything secret and covert."

Those tensions grew to a point that a mediator had to be called in to make sure the teams worked together.

With the focus on Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk, police in December, 2003, executed search warrants on their legislature offices.

Ms. Winteringham dismissed defence complaints that Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm, who issued search warrants and wiretap authorizations, wasn't told the offices were in the legislature.

She said the judge was advised that the men were ministerial aides, and that their offices were in the legislature.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070508.BCBASI08/TPStory/?query=mark+hume

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CORRUPTION TRIAL TOLD JUDGE WAS NOT MISLED
Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The judge who approved the wiretaps and search warrant used to raid the legislature in 2003 was not misled by police, a special prosecutor argued today during a proceedings involving allegations of political corruption. {Snip} ...

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/story.html?id=4d914284-9266-4665-ba03-8e310705e93a&k=68054

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ALLEGED DRUG LINK LED TO RAID, PROSECUTOR SAYS

Trial of former legislature aides
Camille Bains
The Canadian Press - Monday, May 07, 2007

VANCOUVER - A former government aide facing fraud and breach of trust charges was allegedly involved in laundering drug money before police began investigating him in connection with the sale of B.C. Rail, a Crown lawyer said Monday.

Janet Winteringham said that starting in August 2002, police were investigating Dave Basi's alleged drug connection with his cousin, for whom the Crown alleges he was buying property to launder the drug cash.

She said word on the street was that Jas Bains, Basi's cousin, had taken over the drug trade on Vancouver Island after another man, Cirilo Lopez, was arrested in the United States for importing drugs. {Snip}

In April 2003, police connected four calls from Bains to Dave Basi's cell phone from the B.C. Finance Ministry, Winteringham said.

In November 2003, police learned that Basi was involved in alleged criminal matters related to the sale of Crown-owned B.C. Rail, Winteringham said. {Snip}

The second probe spun out of the drug investigation and led to a raid on the provincial legislature in December 2003. {Snip}

Bobby Virk, Basi's brother-in-law, who was an aide to then- transportation minister Judith Reid, is also facing fraud and breach of trust charges while Aneal Basi, another cousin, is charged with money laundering in the B.C. Rail case.

The Crown said it has not decided whether it will approve any of the alleged drug charges against Dave Basi. {Snip}

"The case, in the Crown's submission, is also about receiving benefits in exchange for the production and delivery of confidential information." {Snip}

She said that as government officials Basi and Virk had sworn various oaths to not disclose any confidential government information or take a fee, gratuity or reward for performing their jobs.

In April 2003, Virk signed another confidentiality agreement as a member of an evaluation committee that dealt with the B.C. Rail deal, Winteringham said. It said irreparable harm and substantial economic loss would result if any information were disclosed.

Police found several confidential documents pertaining to the deal at the homes and offices of Virk and Basi and the Pilothouse office in Victoria, Winteringham said.

"Their release would have materially affected the sale process," she said of the critical documents, which in June 2003, involved five bidders. {Snip}

Winteringham also challenged the defence team's claims that the RCMP were tailoring and targeting their investigation toward Basi and Virk and away from then-finance minister Gary Collins and the Liberal party. {Snip}

Winteringham said there was no consensus among police officers as to Collins's role and that various investigators had different views about whether he was even under investigation.

As for defence lawyers' claims that the Crown has failed to disclose material relevant to the fair trial rights of Basi and Virk, Winteringham said the Crown has tried to provide all the relevant material in the massive files involving thousands pages of documents.

"The Crown can't disclose documents that do not exist to prove the theory of the case that the Crown says is not accurate."

Read Camille Bain' full report at:
http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=d718e2e2-177d-44ce-ac25-3ae11ac94701&k=64079

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DRUG LINK ALLEGED IN BASI CASE
Phone calls from suspected dealer led to raid, prosecutor says
CanWest News Service
Published: Tuesday, May 08, 2007

VANCOUVER -- A former B.C. government aide from Victoria, probed by police for his involvement in the B.C. Rail sale, appeared to have links to the illicit drug trade, a prosecutor said yesterday.

Police became aware of Dave Basi when calls were made to his cellphone from his cousin, Jasmohan Singh Bains of Victoria, prosecutor Janet Winteringham said in B.C. Supreme Court. {Snip}

Tips from an informant suggested Basi was laundering money for Bains by purchasing real estate, Winteringham said.

After a wiretap operation was in place for the drug case, police overheard Basi discussing B.C. Rail matters.{Snip}

It was the first time the special prosecutor has been able to respond to allegations made by defence lawyers during 11 previous days of legal arguments for more Crown disclosure during a pre-trial application.

The prosecution will spend most of this week countering allegations made by defence lawyers, who claim they have not received full disclosure in the case.

http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=82eeca7a-4f77-49f4-ad9b-949c6e66795c

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DRUG PROBE LED TO B.C. RAIL CASE
Court told cops made connection
Canadian Press - Tuesday, May 08, 2007

... word on the street was that Jas Bains, Basi's cousin, had taken over the drug trade on Vancouver Island after another man, Cirilo Lopez, was arrested in the U.S. for importing drugs. {Snip}

In April 2003, police connected four calls from Bains to Dave Basi's cellphone at the B.C. Finance Ministry, Winteringham said. In November 2003, police learned that Basi was involved in alleged criminal matters related to the sale of Crown-owned B.C. Rail, Winteringham said ... The second probe spun out of the drug investigation and led to a raid on the provincial legislature in December 2003.

http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=5f2d5899-1e66-4d78-bf73-c88d74db4012&k=78289

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LIBERAL-CONNECTED COP DIDN'T MANIPULATE INVESTIGATION: LAWYER
Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun - 7 May 2007

The defence theory that a senior RCMP officer manipulated the police investigation that led to the raid on the B.C. legislature in 2003 because he was closely tied to an executive member of the BC Liberal party is inaccurate, a member of the special prosecution team said today.

"It's respectfully submitted that that statement is inaccurate," lawyer Janet Winteringham told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett.

The lawyer said Insp. Kevin Debruyckere did not manipulate the direction of the police investigation away from then-finance minister Gary Collins — the defence alleged Debruyckere did so because he is the brother-in-law of Kelly Reichert, the executive director of the BC Liberal Party.

"Different investigators had different views whether Mr. Collins was under investigation," Winteringham explained in court.

"Debruyckere was under the view that Mr. Collins was under investigation," she said, adding that another police officer felt there was no evidence that Collins was aware of the conduct of his ministerial assistant, Dave Basi. {Snip}

It was the first chance for the special prosecutor to respond to allegations made by defence lawyers during the past 11 days of arguments for more Crown disclosure in support of a pre-trial application involving allegations that Basi and virk sold confidential information about the sale of BC Rail.

The prosecution will spend most of this week countering allegations made [by] the defence lawyers, who claim they have not received full disclosure in the case.
The prosecution contends there has been full disclosure in what amounts to a "massive" file involving more than 100,000 documents disclosed to the defence.

Read Neal Hall's complete report at:
http://www.canada.com/globaltv/bc/story.html?id=74c58116-5b8c-45e2-98ec-ae2b850a936e&k=13601

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COLEMAN PICKS UP THE 'STONEWALLY' DEFENCE OVER LEGISLATURE RAID

Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun - May 08, 2007

VICTORIA - The New Democrats tried again Monday to get the B.C. Liberals to say something -- anything -- about concerns arising out of the legislature raid case.

The latest allegation, unproven like the earlier ones, is the most disturbing yet. {Snip}

"You know the last thing a trial judge needs is to have a bunch of uninformed MLAs saying what they think," [Wally Oppal] the Appeal Court judge-turned-attorney-general continued. "When I was on the bench, periodically members of the legislature would involve themselves in this type of debate and we would simply roll our eyes at the uninformed comments." {Snip}

Don't expect to find much more information at:
http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=5a854a58-0f77-48e4-a775-c4c323094d4a

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Comments:
"Debruyckere was under the view that Mr. Collins was under investigation," she said, adding that another police officer felt there was no evidence that Collins was aware of the conduct of his ministerial assistant, Dave Basi" Neal Hall wrote.

. . . so what officer was that: Could it have been his superior who got the phone call from the Solicitor General's staff member, Begg, who called RCMP Assistant Commissioner of Criminal Operations, Gary Bass & suggested that the RCMP cancel their trip to Hawaii to interview Gary Collins . . . after evidence started to surface?
 
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