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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia MP urges end to ‘illegal roadblocks’ in solidarity with pipeline dispute

Rob Morrison says protestors across Canada need to remove roadblocks on roads, rail lines

Regional District of East Kootenay draft 5-year financial plan open for review

The public comment period is open until noon on March 2

Eagles Boxers at BC Championships

Pictured above: Eagles Boxers are back from the BC Provincial Championships in… Continue reading

It happened this week in 1913

February 16 - 22: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

Key City Theatre establishes new endowment fund

The Key City Theatre Legacy Fund was made possible thanks to an anonymous donation

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Most Read