Thursday, July 05, 2007
Getting to know you ...
Today: THE WITNESSES
Some people have been named as witnesses for the prosecution in the Basi Virk Basi trial. And one has actually been sworn in and has testified. They are:
* Gary Collins, B.C. Liberal Minister of Finance, whose friendship with Dave Basi dates from before the 2001 election. Once elected and named to a cabinet position, he personally and immediately appointed Basi as his top-rank aide and was the only Cabinet Minister to do so, before the premier's Chief of Staff, Martyn Brown, issued a directive saying that all other staff would be chosen by the premier's office.
* Judith Reid, B.C. Liberal Minister of Transportation during the sale of B.C. Rail, whose top ministerial aide was Bobby Virk. See photo: http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/photo_gallery/pages/2003/2003_02_13-b.htm
Aneal Basi also worked in the Transport Ministry.
* Pilothouse Public Affairs Group partners were lobbying the BC government on matters concerning B.C. Rail:
Erik Bornmann, Director of operations in B.C. for the Paul Martin leadership campaign; a partner in Pilothouse Public Affairs Group. Alleged to have paid $30,000. to Dave Basi for information on B.C.Rail "auction" which could allegedly help his client, OmniTRAX, also bidding on BC Rail.
Brian Kieran, a former political columnist with The Province newspaper, and his partner Erik Bornman, were allegedly making routine payments to Udhe (Dave) Singh Basi, who was an assistant to then finance minister Gary Collins, and to Bobby Singh Virk, who was an assistant to then transportation minister Judith Reid and Basi's brother-in-law, "in connection with a matter of business relating to the government."
Basi's cousin, Aneal Basi, a communications officer in the transportation ministry, was also charged for allegedly accepting payments from Pilothouse and transferring the money to Dave Basi.
One of Pilothouse's clients at the time was OmniTRAX, which was competing with CN Rail to buy BC Rail owned by the province. In 2004, BC Rail went to CN for $1 billion.
But neither Kieran nor Bornman has been charged.
[From: Voice Online]
When Brian Kieran resigned as senior partner, he handed Pilothouse (renamed K & E Public Affairs) over to: Jamie Elmhirst. Then the K&E Public Affairs Inc. company closed its doors.
Jamie Elmhirst, Liberal Party President for B.C. and provincial lobbyist , active also in the Campbell Liberal Party. Recently resigned, before his July 2007 wedding. Elmhirst and partner Brian Kieran had a police search warrant served at their Victoria offices in the Basi/Virk case, likely because of Erik Bornman's role in their firm until the raid.
John Preissell. Kevin McCullough, defence lawyer for Dave Basi, made sustained arguments that the RCMP has "tailored" its investigation in order to steer it away from elected politicians and towards Basi and Virk. Because this may be pivotal in the Basi Virk Basi case, let's turn to Bill Tieleman's account of the surprise witness, John Preissell, who made an unexpected telephone call to McCullough on Sunday 29 April. Bill writes in The Tyee: Preissell, it turns out, had contacted RCMP in January 2005 to offer information he had about the role of provincial lobbyist Brian Kieran in the case. And after speaking to McCullough, Preissell made a surprise appearance in the courtroom Monday to give evidence.
Preissell told the court in sworn testimony as the case's unscheduled and first witness that the RCMP "didn't seem too interested" when he contacted them about Kieran, who is one of the Crown's key witnesses against the defendants.
McCullough found that amazing because first of all, special prosecutor Bill Berardino had never disclosed the Preissell tip to the defence.
And second, because Preissell testified under oath that Kieran had threatened him over a planned public campaign against Gary Collins about Insurance Corporation of B.C. issues. Collins was minister responsible then and Preissell at that time was owner of an auto body and glass repair shop having "red tape" trouble with ICBC.
"The bottom line was he [Kieran] threatened me repeatedly and said if we didn't back off of Mr. Collins we wouldn't get what we wanted," Preissell alleged. "I was actually afraid, I was very afraid."
Preissell said that at the time of the threat in the spring of 2003 he was a member of a group of the Auto Glass Survival Coalition and that another industry group he had been involved with had hired Kieran as a lobbyist.
"Kieran offered to work for the Coalition for free to embarrass ICBC but not to embarrass the minister of finance," Preissell testified.
When I contacted Kieran and read him Preissell's statement he declined comment. "As per the past three years, I've been advised by my attorney that I should wait until I'm in court to say my piece," said Kieran, a longtime Victoria political columnist for The Province newspaper before becoming a lobbyist.