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

Vernon housing builds hope for 52 homeless individuals

The 52 unit supported housing apartment officially opens

Gardens plant hope for Vernon residents who were once homeless

Turning Points, in collaberation with Briteland, bring square foot gardening to Blair Apartments

Tolko Armstrong taking two weeks downtime

Vernon-based company tells employees mill will take downtime May 27 and June 3

More campsites coming to Vernon and beyond

Province announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

North Okangan MP welcomes plan to fight human trafficking

Mel Arnold applauds Conservative plan for A Safer Canada

Federal tourism minister announces new national strategy in Armstrong

Mélanie Joly announced funding available for rural communities and other parts of the new strategy

Bear spray culprit released from Penticton RCMP custody

The individual who sprayed the bear spray at Compass House on May 22 has been released

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana growing ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

Popular Peachland park reopens

Hardy Falls Regional Park has been closed from flood damage since 2017

Summerland students to raise voices in public speech competition

Public speaking component is included in high school English program

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

B.C. woman left ‘black and blue’ after being pushed off 40-foot cliff at lake

West Shore RCMP looking for witnesses as investigation continues

Children learn for free at Vernon library

Reading, puppet shows, prizes and more

UPDATE: Residents asked to manage attractants after bear sighting at Salmon Arm school

Conservation Officer says people need to change behaviours to avoid destruction of bears

Most Read