Just as former BC finance minister Gary Collins was due to take the stand in BC's biggest and longest running political corruption case, it's all over.
Defendants Dave Basi and Bob Virk, ministerial aides to Collins and former BC transport minister Judith Reid respectively, have agreed to stay home for two years and perform 150 hours of community service so that no one higher up the political ladder will be inconvenienced by charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of public trust in the $1-billion 2003 sell-off of BC Rail.
Charges of money laundering against the third defendant Aneal Basi, also with the transport ministry, appear to have disappeared completely.
After millions of dollars spent, six years of endless delays, and a change of judge this spring, the Basi Virk BC Rail trial has been legally shunted off onto a dead-end track where no one will ever find it.
CBC Radio acted real surprised just now - Gosh, what happened there!? - and quickly moved on.
BC Mary, Ross at the Gazetteer, and Laila Yuile have followed this trial much more closely than I have since its murky under-reported beginnings in 2004. They should be along with much more cogent analysis shortly. First out of the gate on this travesty : House of Infamy
7pm Update : A clearly disgusted Bruce Hutchinson from NaPo was in the gallery for what he calls the "face-saving deal" that ended the trial none of the parties involved wanted to continue.
"... at what we simpletons in the gallery thought was the resumption of the B.C. Rail trial. Rather than testimony we heard muffled guilty pleas, to mutually accepted statements of fact based on suddenly sanitized criminal counts."Mr. Basi's $75,625 "fine" consists of paying back the money he illegally got from :
"B.C. lobbyists, in exchange for confidential bid and financial information surrounding the $1-billion sale of provincial Crown asset B.C. Rail; and from a group of Victoria developers asking the B.C. government to remove certain land from an agricultural reserve, so that they could build on it."In addition to getting Gary Collins off the hook from testifying, the fast-tracked end to the trial also spared :
As to the entirely unspoken "remorse" Madame Justice Anne MacKenzie said she accepted from Basi and Virk, Hutchinson reports :
Erik Bornmann, the lobbyist with B.C.-based Pilothouse Public Affairs, who, it is now agreed, paid Mr. Basi $25,625 in exchange for B.C. Rail secrets. Court heard yesterday that Mr. Bornmann passed the illicit information along to his client, U.S.-based railway operator OmniTrax.
An aspiring lawyer, Mr. Bornmann already had his own deal worked out with the Crown, immunity from prosecution relating to his role in the Basi and Virk crimes.
Two of Mr. Bornmann’s colleagues at Pilothouse, Brian Kieran and Jamie Elmhirst, were also expected to appear for the Crown. Another potential witness was Bruce Clark, a lobbyist and once a key campaign fundraiser in B.C. for former prime minister Paul Martin.
It was agreed in court yesterday that Mr. Clark also received confidential B.C. Rail information from Basi and Virk. Mr. Clark is the brother of former provincial Liberal cabinet minister Christy Clark."
"when all was said and done and the courtroom had almost emptied, they laughed."And really, why not? After years of legal bullshit, they simply pay back the bribes and go home.
A public inquiry? You're kidding, right?
Tuesday Update : Robin Mathews at BC Mary's
BC Rail Poll - currently running 96% in favour of a public inquiry
Wednesday Update : $6-million buys a whole lot of silence
Laila : Corruption is complete authority plus total monopoly, minus transparency
Paul Willcocks : Things get worse and Trial ends, scandal smell lingers on
Ian Reid : Why the BC Rail deal sucks
Robin Mathews : Outside Courtroom 54, the trial goes on
Peter Ewart : BC Rail : To all those who stood up
Norm at Northern Insights : The outrageous special deal and Friends take care of friends
RossK : Railgate's Repo Men
and of course Mary at her ongoing BC Rail digest, on whom we all depend to weave these threads together.
I hope all you intrepid citizen reporters and your anonymice can come together one fine day to write the book.