Friday, July 08, 2011

 

The “near-points” of the BC Rail case need to be looked at – and then how all has been shaped towards what looks like, to many, an outright manipulation to end trial and to guarantee silence from the accused and convicted pair, Dave Basi and Bob Virk.

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By Robin Mathews
July 8, 2011.

The B.C. Auditor General wants all information on the $6 million paid by the Gordon Campbell cabinet to Defence lawyers in the BC Rail Scandal Basi, Virk, and Basi case.

The trial of Basi, Virk, and Basi ended on October 18, 2010 (with the B.C. government  absorbing all of the $6 million of Defence costs – even though two of the accused men were convicted.)  In a case of conviction, government does NOT normally pay Defence costs of employees.  What went on? B.C.’s Auditor General wants to know.

In November, 2010, the B.C. Auditor General requested information and documents from the Attorney General’s ministry.  They were  (alarmingly, but effectively) denied.

Going to court, it took Auditor General John Doyle (overall) nearly eight months to get what he wants. (In the meantime, Stephen Harper, HST buddy of Gordon Campbell, could begin lifting Campbell right out of B.C. and dropping him into London, England, as Canada’s High Commissioner there.)

The “near-points” of the case need to be looked at – and then how all has been shaped towards what looks like, to many, an outright manipulation to end trial and to guarantee silence from the accused and convicted pair, Dave Basi and Bob Virk.

The near-points.  What – for instance – Vaughn Palmer doesn’t tell his readers is that part of the deal made by October 18, 2010, was that the two main men accused – Dave Basi and Bob Virk – had charges against them significantly reduced.  They were found guilty … but not of what they were originally charged with in December 2004, and remained charged with until October 2010.

Suddenly, charges were reduced, jail time was out, fraud was removed … and the deal was made.

Near point #2.  From December 2004 until October 18, 2010, Aneal Basi was accused of receiving moneys from Erik Bornmann, and of depositing them in tranches in a Dave Basi account.  Aneal Basi was accused of money laundering – for six years.  If he is innocent (all charges erased against him on October 18, 2010), then the Crown (through the wrongfully appointed Special Prosecutor William Berardino) slandered and libelled Aneal Basi for six, highly publicized years.  What is to be done? What does the Crown owe him as remedy for a six year, highly public slander?

If Aneal Basi is not innocent, why were charges against him erased on October 18, 2010?  (No one mentions Aneal Basi anymore in Mainstream Press and Media reports.  Why not?)

Near-point #3.  As the trial closed, standing near William Berardino (wrongfully appointed Special Prosecutor in December 2003), I heard him reply to a question to the effect that he was responsible for all the terms of the deal that had been made.  Within hours that statement had holes shot through it – as responsibility for paying Defence the $6 million climbed further and further through the Gordon Campbell government.  Finally, it was pretty clearly revealed the payment had to be approved at the highest levels.

But the auditor general is alleging that it was not approved – as it had to be – by cabinet (in any recorded way).

A few key moments were played out before the final few weeks. Those moments point to the sudden, intense, back-room dealing that resulted in the final “deal”: Aneal Basi was wiped of all accusations; Dave Basi and Bob Virk received significantly reduced charges; B.C. taxpayers paid the $6 million Defence legal costs.

No one mentions that the Special Prosecutor – appointed in violation of the legislation governing such appointments – was paid, with his “team”, something like $12 million.

The appointment of William Berardino by a ministry whose Attorney General had been Berardino’s partner and colleague for seven years and whose Deputy Attorney General had been his partner and colleague for eleven years was plainly, outrageously wrongful. It was so wrongful that any British Columbian may believe Mr. Berardino was appointed for baldly political reasons – and that he did what he was appointed to do….

Any British Columbian may believe his payment was no more legitimate than the payment, by government, of Basi’s and Virk’s costs. The mainstream press and media do not mention Aneal Basi’s strange situation; the reduced charges against Basi and Virk; the wrongful appointment of the Special Prosecutor. The mainstream press and media don’t report facts British Columbians have a right to know.

It all began a long time ago, before Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett was made judge on the Basi, Virk, and Basi case.  But we’ll begin there.

She had (I believe) blown the Glen Clark (NDP premier) case concerning payment for a deck on a modest, East Vancouver home, believing the RCMP presented clean evidence.  I believe the RCMP did not.  She believed the bases of the charges – which had their first suggestion from Gordon Campbell’s constituency office – were real.  She believed the chief RCMP investigator, an officer Gordon Campbell at least twice tried to woo to be a Liberal candidate, was squeaky clean.

In brief, she ran what I believe was a case based on a corrupt construction of evidence as if it were not.  Clark’s lawyer more than once argued that the charges were baseless and should be stayed.  She disagreed … and then came to the judgment that Glen Clark had done nothing that warranted conviction! (After 136 days of highly trumpetted trial.)

Two former premiers joined the call for a Public Inquiry into the case, an Inquiry that never happened.

Justice Bennett was then appointed judge in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case. (Her judgement in the Glen Clark case was made after he had been destroyed politically by what I believe were trumped up and falsely constructed charges. In a way, then, even innocent of all the forces at work, she did what was necessary to destroy Clark’s political career.)

Whether she saw into what I believe was the situation in the Glen Clark case, I cannot say.  Whatever the situation, she conducted the pre-trial matters of the Basi, Virk, and Basi case with great care.  I believe she conducted them too slowly, and with too lax a hand on the RCMP and the Special Prosecutor.  But she saw the Defence argument – that the case against the three men was “tailored and they were targetted” in order to narrow the case and to protect highly placed others.

She permitted evidence to pile up of tailoring and targetting. Because of what the Defence thought was her general fairness, they elected to have trial by judge alone – not judge and jury.

Then she was removed, promoted, appointed to the Appeal Court smack in the flow of the pre-trial process.  Her promotion had to be approved by Stephen Harper (who has just appointed Gordon Campbell as Canadian High Commissioner in London).  Observers may argue forever about whether she was removed to stop her from doing a fair job or for other, legitimate, reasons.

All I can say is that I asked senior Defence lawyer Michael Bolton on two separate occasions who could remove Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett from the case, and Michael Bolton insisted only she had the power to remove herself.  But  - as I witnessed Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm at work in court – I became convinced that he removed her.

At this point the key to the “deal” struck on October 18, 2010, is revealed.

The appointee to replace Elizabeth Bennett was Anne MacKenzie – who very soon after became Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie.  She terminated (quickly) the pre-trial process, and she was to sit as judge on the trial.

The Defence team became alarmed, I believe.  Observing the day-to-day process in the court, it believe I could see the Defence counsel coming to think that Associate Chief Justice MacKenzie would cut off all argument about “tailoring and targetting” of the accused, would confine all attention to the three accused in the small situation of the charges against them, and would prevent the larger picture of an alleged wholesale, corrupt, high-level transfer of BC Rail to the CNR to have any bearing on the case.

She would not let, it seemed to me observing, Defence argue that the accused three men were simply part of a huge, elaborate, corrupt activity in which others, very highly placed, were involved and even directing the three accused.

There was only one way, it seems, to stop Associate Chief Justice MacKenzie from riding rough-shod over the carefully prepared Defence case.  That was to put between her and the lawyers involved a jury of twelve ordinary British Columbians.  To do that, Defence would have to re-elect (not a common thing to do) to have a trial with judge and jury, not merely a judge.

After all, they had not elected to have Anne MacKenzie as sole judge, but Elizabeth Bennett – and she had been whisked away.
But to get the re-election they wanted, they were going to have to negotiate with the Special Prosecutor.  And they did.

One of the results of the negotiation was that the two sides in the case agreed to a statement of “Admission of Facts”.  That isn’t highly unusual.  It permits both sides to begin with a number of matters agreed upon.  The accused did this and this and this – all agree.  That saves time.

But the Special Prosecutor required that the accused refrain (it seems from what went on in court) from suggesting investigation was biased, that there were unseemly connections between people involved, and so on.  I have come to believe the Special Prosecutor required the accused to agree to things that, in fact, prevented reasonable defence – something no court could uphold – something that would prevent the fair administration of justice.

But the paper was signed by all concerned.

Then, as trial began, the accused would not agree that they had signed away some key rights to defence.  They interpreted the statements in the Admission of Facts differently – at first (it seems)  than their lawyers.

A real and total impasse occurred. The accused were advised to seek legal advice beyond their own counsel.  Time passed. Finally, the accused and their lawyers decided to proceed with the trial.

The cross-examination of the first witness, Martyn Brown, Gordon Campbell’s long-time Chief of Staff, brought everything to a head.
Defence counsel asked Martyn Brown what he knew about the relation between major investigator, RCMP officer Kevin DeBruyckere and his brother-in-law, Kelly Reichert, Executive Director of the B.C. Liberal Party.  (Could they have passed information on to Gordon Campbell? was asked or intimated.)

The Special Prosecutor stopped the action.  Defence counsel couldn’t ask such a question, Berardino alleged – as a result of the agreed Admission of Facts.  The judge had to rule.

She ruled, in short, that the question was valid, and that Defence could ask such questions.

That changed too much in the Prosecution strategy. The trial had to be stopped.  Nearly 30 highly placed politicians and corporate actors were to appear and to be cross-examined. They couldn’t walk through the trial, one after the other, in the state of amnesia that Martyn Brown had shown – to the wonder of even the mainstream press and media journalists who rarely wonder about anything.

The trial would turn into a blood bath.  It had to be stopped.  Either the witnesses would reveal things that would affect the jury (and the case) in highly significant ways – probably turning it away from the accused towards major political and corporate figures.  Or, I believe, all Crown witnesses would have to live in amnesia – which situation would become less and less and less convincing even to the sold-out mainstream journalists. Such repeated amnesia would turn the trial into a raging public farce.

It had to be stopped.  And so dealing went on.  Only one half of one more witness took the stand before all came to an end.  (Martyn Brown was suddenly transferred to a safe position as Deputy Minister of Tourism.) To get an end to the trial, charges against Aneal Basi had to be dropped completely.  Charges against Dave Basi and Bob Virk had to be cut down to anodyne levels. No jail term.  No fraud charges. The Gordon Campbell government agreed to pay all Defence costs – and not try to retrieve any of the money from the convicted men.

And so the trial was killed – with lightning haste.  It was killed –  with such haste and in such an unconventional way that the Auditor General of B.C. wants to know all about it.

Good luck to Auditor General John Doyle.

It seems to me the Gordon Campbell group that oversaw the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR – Christie Clark included – has so far escaped all serious examination.  Let us hope John Doyle can break through their defense and show the BC public why $6 million of its money was misused – as a beginning to showing how billions were misused – and perhaps criminally looted - in the transfer of BC Rail to the CNR.

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Comments:
"The Gordon Campbell Group" should also include David MacLean and the people that recruited him to recruit Campbell.

It was MacLean who zeroed in on Campbell before he 'entered' provincial politics and perhaps even before that, when he was toiling with CPR/Marathon Realty.

It was MacLean who 'befriended' the hapless Campbell and entreated and financed him to enter the provincial political arena.

It was always MacLean who was on a mission to acquire BC Rail.

When the truth finally does find it's way to the light, MacLean will be front and center of the beginning of the end of the innocence of BC politics and the prosperity of the greater populace.

I'll wager my last dollar that the miscreants behind the foreign fish farms, the foreign financed ROR IPP's, the pacific gateway interconnections and other detrimental to BC projects, are all familiar faces at dinners in the homes of MacLeans handlers.
 
Outstanding analysis by Robin Mathews once again.

Robin writes:

"But the auditor general is alleging that it was not approved – as it had to be – by cabinet (in any recorded way)."

This reminds me so much of the time in late 2003 when Joy MacPhail tried to find out from Transport Minister Judith Reid 'when' and 'if' cabinet actually ever approved the sale of BC Rail. Look up hansard, December 2, 2003, morning sitting, as Joy MacPhail valiantly tries to get a straight and accurate answer from Ms. Reid in this regard.

The pathological contempt for democracy and the public's right to know remains in full bloom.
 
Throughout all the secrecy and obviously suppressed facts in this case one thought has nagged at me.
Can a person such as myself file ANY kind of action to seek the information the public obviously wants? Or do we have to wait for a change of government?
 
@Gary E - I still think there may be a way through US courts, because of the role of US investors and companies in the deal.....
 
Great stuff as always Robin. I think a change in government might speed things along Gary E, but it can't just be a change in the name of the governing party. Personnel and ideology have to be changed too. The big money politicians seek all comes from the same few places so we can't look at party names and labels as representing major differences in ideology any more. The same people sign the unseen paychecks for them all. More people have to be found who will choose what is right for everyone over what is profitable for a few.
I'm hoping the actions of the BC Auditor General will produce a rip in this dirty fabric that goes right across Canada. As I keep saying, this is not just a BC thing y'know.
 
Thanks to Watchingfromnextdoor

and, in fact, to all who take time to think the deep thoughts about all these matters and then

to share them with the rest of us.

As you can see, I rely upon you ... and have also said, time after time, that we're all in this mess together and must find our way out of it, together.

And it does go beyond B.C., making it jolting to discover that Gordon Campbell is now sitting pretty on Trafalgar Square in London, England, where he might carry out more of his schemes.

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Thanks BC Mary and Robin M. This is a long and complicated story of insider government corruption and I appreciate your focus on it.

Watchingfromnextdoor - unfortunately, you're right. Even with a change in government, the back room players remain the same. They just change who the cheque is payable to.

The facts are these - our new premier, Christy Clark, worked in Ottawa as an executive assistant to Transport Minister, Doug Young, when CN Rail was privatized!
I propose that Clark was recruited by CN stakeholders to do what she could for them in BC. It's no coincidence that her brother, her ex-husband and herself are imbedded in the centre of the corruption. David McLean, chairman of the CN Rail Board, and Patrick Kinsella, major BC Liberal insider and player in sale of BC Rail, continue to provide backing for CClark's political career. In my opinion, she was bought and sold long ago.

We, the public, need to demand better government or we're never going to get it.
 
Hi Mary. Once again I commend Robin on a superb article. If only we had more "Robins" to get those worms!

Much has been written here and elsewhere about the sorry state of the mainstream media today. I came across a blog that made me want to literally cheer, because it illustrates that there are still people out there in the media who see very clearly what is going on.

Kai Nagata recently quit a very lucrative position as CTV's Bureau Chief in Quebec. He clearly sees fluff being substituted for more meaningful and more important news. Kai is eloquent and insightful. I think this is an article well worth the read:

Why I Quit My Job

You may have to scroll down the page...
 
Hi Mary and everyone. Just taking a moment to ask if this concept has been mentioned:

It seems well proven that BC Rail was in fact profitable, although it was somehow reported in the Legislature to be losing money. This is viewed as a justification for the railway's privatization.

Since we know that in addition to BCR's value as a viable business, the sale gives CN and its friends a monopoly on BC's rail service and control of this important industrial transporter ...

Is it also noted that the manipulation of BC Rail's books to show a loss also dramatically increased CN's bottom line since BCR's losses can be claimed against CN's profits at tax time.

So claiming losses reduces the railway's apparent value and lowers the cost to CN, at the same time as it creates the huge tax break. Nice arithmetic there.
 
As Skookum has often suggested the route to justice might only lie through US courts in the BC Rail matter. It is encouraging that the FBI and US Dept. of Justice are taking an interest in Rupert Murdoch's activities, not just the alleged phone hacking of 9/11 victims but the bribing of public officials (like cops) in the UK. It is against US law for a US corporation to bribe foreign officials or citizens - though much bribery over oil licenses and such seems to be ignored by the authorities.

If Rupert Murdoch's News Corp's bribes of English cops is worthy of investigation and/or charges in the US (News Corp is a US based company and Rupert and his son are US citizens)then perhaps it would be appropriate to investigate bribery and other questionable activities engaged in by two other US based corporations, namely Omnitrax and CN (now based in Dallas if I'm not mistaken).

As flawed as the US justice system may be - the Bu$h/Cheney crew will apparently never be held accountable for war crimes and the wall street bandits get bailed out rather than being held accountable for fraud - there is more chance to get to the bottom of the BC Rail Scam in a US court than a kangaroo court in British Columbia. Conrad Black would never have seen the inside of a jail cell if he had been smart enough to stay in Canada, where criminals rise to the top and garner honours and magnificent rewards.

kootcoot
 
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