Tuesday, May 18, 2010

 

BC Rail corruption trial goes world-wide

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Canada Rail-Sale Corruption Trial Opens in Vancouver (Update2)

By Joe Schneider
Bloomberg - May 18, 2010
Story is HERE.

[BC Mary comment: Bloomberg L.P. is a closely-held financial software, news and data company. It has a one-third share of the market, similar to Thomson Reuters.  The tone (for us) is new. Note the special contact available in Vancouver. My thanks to the anonymous commenter who provided this link.]

May 18 (Bloomberg) -- Former British Columbia Finance Minister Gary Collins’s assistant David Basi received C$25,000 ($24,113) from a public relations company representing a bidder for a government-owned railway six years ago, a prosecutor said.

Basi and Bobbi Virk, who was an assistant to former transportation minister Judith Reid, are charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in connection with the C$1 billion sale of BC Rail Ltd. to Canadian National Railway Co. Basi’s cousin Aneal Basi, a former government communications officer, is also on trial, charged with money laundering.

Erik Bornman, a partner in Pilothouse Public Affairs Group which represented Denver-based OmniTrax Inc., an unsuccessful bidder for the railway, will testify “he made regular payments to Mr. Basi,” William Berardino said today at the start of the corruption trial in Vancouver.

“He will say that Mr. Basi instructed him to make checks payable to Aneal Basi,” Berardino told the jury of six men and six women.

Aneal Basi collected C$27,000 worth of checks and deposited C$25,000 into his cousin’s bank accounts, Berardino said the evidence will show.

David Basi is accused of demanding and accepting money, travel and employment opportunities from Bornman in exchange for information about the pending sale of BC Rail.

Travel, Meals

Virk is accused in the 12-count indictment issued in January 2005 of demanding and accepting travel, meals and employment opportunities. Aneal Basi is accused of laundering the money for his cousin.

All three pleaded innocent.

The trial will take six to eight weeks, lawyers have estimated.

CNR, North America’s largest hauler of forest products, won the exclusive use of BC Rail’s 2,315 kilometers (1,450 miles) of track in November 2003. The losing bidders for the 60-year contract were Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. and a venture of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. and closely held OmniTrax.   

David Basi and Virk are also accused of defrauding CNR, Canadian Pacific and the British Columbia government by disclosing the information.

Virk, who sat on a government committee evaluating bids for the railway, provided Bornman with the bids that were submitted, at least three days before they were presented to the committee, Berardino said.

Denver Football

Virk and David Basi also received at least C$20,000 worth of meals from Omnitrax and were flown with their wives to Denver for a football game in November 2002, Berardino said.

Former Liberal Party Cabinet ministers Reid and Collins are among more than 40 people, including executives at CNR, BC Rail and OmniTrax, subpoenaed to testify at the trial.

The charges followed a raid and seizure of documents at the British Columbia legislature in 2004 by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Lawyers involved in the case said they have amassed more than 1 million pages of documents in preparation for the trial.

Judge Anne MacKenzie has imposed a publication ban on all evidence, motions and submissions offered when the jury isn’t present in court.

She twice threatened to throw Virk’s lawyer, Kevin McCullough, out of the courtroom for interrupting Berardino’s opening statement. McCullough objected saying Berardino was attempting to argue the case.

“You will remain seated or you will be removed by the sheriff,” MacKenzie told McCullough.

The case is Regina v. Virk, VA23299, British Columbia Supreme Court (Vancouver).

To contact the reporter on this story:
Joe Schneider in Vancouver at jschneider5@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: May 18, 2010



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Comments:
Yippee! The story broke through the border fog.

Thanks for this Mary (and anonymous contributor).

This is how we can work together collaboratively to cut out the rot that has permeated our province's "elite" and turned our lives and our future into dross.

I'd suggest we not inundate the contact noted in the story with anything but crisp, concise, solid points. If we keep the rhetoric dry and powerful, we'll have more credibility.

Robin, is this maybe your way in, as a source of info at very least (to an outside media agency with a long reach)? Just putting it out there...

CC
 
Mary, I can't resist this:

Where it began, I can't begin to know when
But then I know it's growing strong
Oh, wasn't the spring, whooo
And spring became the summer
Who'd believe you'd come along

Hands, touching hands, reaching out
Touching me, touching you
Oh, sweet Caroline
Good times never seem so good
I've been inclined to believe it never would
 
David Basi and Virk are also accused of defrauding CNR, Canadian Pacific and the British Columbia government by disclosing the information.

So, at what point and from whose testimony does it come out that CN got access to privy information about CP's and BNSF's bids? Obviously not part of the Crown's case, but surely the defence's....if B&V "defrauded" CN by helping out 4th-place OmniTRAX with a bit of information, how is it not "defrauding" CP and BNSF for CN to have had access to their bid information, as well as other supposed-to-be-confidential information.

And yeah, a very different tone from the laundered stuff that's appeared in print in BC and occasionally elsewhere in Canada, and some facts we haven't seen before (though perhaps Robin and others here already knew).

It'll get interesting when an international reporter interviews Robin, who's been the only civilian in attendance throughout the preliminary hearings....it may also get interesting if Bloomberg starts digging around in the conflict-of-interest material to do with Berardino etc etc etc...and the mystery of ACJ's appointment, and former ACJ Dohm's meddling...and those strange, very strange warrants....
 
David Basi and Virk are also accused of defrauding CNR, Canadian Pacific and the British Columbia government by disclosing the information.

So, at what point and from whose testimony does it come out that CN got access to privy information about CP's and BNSF's bids? Obviously not part of the Crown's case, but surely the defence's....if B&V "defrauded" CN by helping out 4th-place OmniTRAX with a bit of information, how is it not "defrauding" CP and BNSF for CN to have had access to their bid information, as well as other supposed-to-be-confidential information.

And yeah, a very different tone from the laundered stuff that's appeared in print in BC and occasionally elsewhere in Canada, and some facts we haven't seen before (though perhaps Robin and others here already knew).

It'll get interesting when an international reporter interviews Robin, who's been the only civilian in attendance throughout the preliminary hearings....it may also get interesting if Bloomberg starts digging around in the conflict-of-interest material to do with Berardino etc etc etc...and the mystery of ACJ's appointment, and former ACJ Dohm's meddling...and those strange, very strange warrants....
 
Where is Robin sitting in the Courtroom;

With the other journalists;

With the public;

Listening outside


Just curious, because I'm looking forward to his next column here on BC Mary aka M
 
Snarf,

Robin started off yesterday sitting beside Neal Hall which, I assume, is in the Public Gallery.

Then Robin moved to a better seat and he shared a laugh with Neal saying it had nothing to do with Neal rejecting his bid to qualify for recording the proceedings.

Yes, I'm looking forward to his columns, too. He always provides an insight unlike any other reports.
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My only worry about this BC Rail file gaining international infamy is that it will send more carpetbaggers and looters to BC. Nothing attracts criminal activity like criminal activity.

With the BC Liberals in power, the big international players have already been weighing and dividing BC's large assets. Now that the kitty is out of the bag and BC becomes more known as the wide-open Lawless West, the lesser confidence men and women will be more attracted. Haven't the glittery casinos created an environmental and social utopia for Las Vegas? Don't casinos attract the most savery of citizens? Ain't it just the kind of place a guy and a gal want for raisin' a family? Ain't it grand that the BC Liberals' latest plan is bringing a big new hedonistic gambling palace into our world? The BC Libs, what a classy bunch!

This is what we get when citizens put their faith in purveyors of the Ayn Rand, "Greed is Good", school of thought.
 
And, S.i.G.,

this is exactly, precisely why I've spent 4 years shining a light into the dark corners where dirty deals are done.

Hiding the truth obviously doesn't work.

And this is why we made a fuss last week, when it became apparent that there are Canwest Gatekeepers even inside BC Supreme Court deciding who can, and who cannot, have the tools to record court proceedings for accuracy.

Secrecy, shielding, biases, and all that stuff needs to be flushed out into the open too.
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Oh, I'm with you 100%, Mary. I look to places like Chicago and Vegas that have long histories of crime and corruption. I know we have to clean house, but I am afraid we are still dealing with a rising tide of corruption. I fear it will be long before that tide ebbs and then flows back out to expose all that has become rotten and dead beneath the surface. The stench will be great and the slime will be everywhere.

I know, I know, we have to start somewhere. I admire your fortitude in keeping the Legislature Raids afloat in such a foul sea.
 
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From the Hall/Culbert article in the Sun:

The sale of BC Rail is controversial because Premier Gordon Campbell made an election promise not to sell off the publicly owned railway.

But once elected in 2001, the government decided to auction off the freight division of BC Rail. It was announced in November 2003 that CN Rail was the winning bidder.

Don't we know for a fact, from Paul Nettleton's account, that it wasn't after they were elected they decided to sell BC Rail? Or is it only that it was brought up at the very first post-election cabinet meeting, and the lot of them instructed/threatened to not say a word about the government's intention to sell the railway, and that they already had a winner chosen.

So tell me, how was CN harmed by BVB, with Bornmann's encouragement, dancing the tango with OmniTRAX in order to maintain the premise/illusion that the bidding process was fair? How's that again, Mr Special Prosecutor - CN was harmed by this - HOW??

Apparently they teach a different kind of logic in some law schools than in others.
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Skookum1,

I was struggling to understand that very problem myself, this afternoon, and just couldn't get my mind around it.

Except to consider it in terms of some opportunist having taken a segment of the action out for personal grooming, as it were.

Then decided it was because I was so tired, that I couldn't understand it. The afternoon nap helped a bit, but not enough.

We need a pipeline into Madam MacK.'s courtroom so we can send our questions in. There have been some dandy questions today.
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Good idea Mary, and I imagine the answers would be absolutely hair-raising...IF, we were ever allowed to hear them honestly.
 
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