Auditor clears politicians on Basi-Virk bills

B.C.'s Auditor General found no political interference in the decision to pay legal costs for political aides found guilty

Attorney General Suzanne Anton

VICTORIA – B.C.’s Auditor General has found no political interference in the government’s  2010 decision to forgive $6 million in legal defence costs for former ministerial aides Dave Basi and Bobby Virk.

The legal costs decision was announced two days after Basi and Virk pleaded guilty to one count each of breach of trust and accepting benefits, after seven years of investigation into their role in leaking confidential information on bids for the sale of BC Rail assets.

The guilty pleas, on the eve of testimony by former cabinet ministers, prompted the audit to examine the decision to waive collection of the legal fees. That was contrary to the existing policy that while the government would cover legal defence costs for its employees, that money would be recovered if employees were found guilty.

In a report released Wednesday, acting Auditor General Russ Jones concluded that the plea bargain and fee relief were proposed to the Legal Services Branch of the Attorney General’s ministry by Basi and Virk’s defence lawyers. The final decision was made by the former deputy attorney general and deputy minister of finance, with politicians purposely excluded.

“The decision was an economic decision,” Jones said. “It was to save money.”

The government had spent $6 million to date and would be putting up another $2 million for defence bills if the trial had continued. Combined prosecution and defence costs were costing taxpayers $15,000 for each day of a trial expected to take six months.

The audit noted that Basi and Virk’s combined assets were valued at $400,000.

The B.C. government not only covers legal costs for its employees, but for defendants in large criminal trials who can’t afford their own defence. Fees were paid for convicted serial killer Robert William Pickton and for Jamie Bacon, one of the accused in the current Surrey Six murder case.

Attorney General Suzanne Anton said the government is acting on the auditor’s recommendations to make the process of covering employee legal fees more transparent.

 

Just Posted

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Are there windier days ahead?

Tales from the Bear

Man caught in fatal avalanche ID’ed as Alberta man in his 20s

Outdoor guides warn against high winds in the mountains Family Day weekend

Road conditions for Feb. 14

More compact snow and slippery sections

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

B.C. man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Most Read