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

Peninsula speed skating duo aiming for the national stage

Pair opted to train in long track skating this season for the first time

Peninsula Panthers knocking on the door of the VIJHL playoffs

NORTH SAANICH — The Peninsula Panthers are getting down to crunch time… Continue reading

Tent city resident just wants a home

Roving tent city has made its way to Central Saanich

Keating Elementary to get seismic upgrades, 4 new classrooms

Construction on $7.92 million project to begin in July

First Nations integral to North Saanich’s new addictions treatment facility

Pauquachin First Nation working with Homewood Health at former Dunsmuir Lodge site

Sidney’s Salish Sea aquarium to close for maintenance

First extended closure for the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea since it opened in 2009

Cash still needed for Stelly’s Cross Path

MLA Olsen wants more specifics first

Butchart Gardens is hiring now and paying more

Wages start at $15, job fair Feb. 20

Injured parachutist wants stolen backpack back

Bag contained important video files of 2017 parachuting incident

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Sentencing hearing begins for ex-BC Liberals employee in ‘quick wins’ scandal

Former communications director Brian Bonney pleaded guilty last October

Boat capsizes in Caddy Bay

Two members of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club Race Team spent part… Continue reading

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag for Canada at 2018 Olympics

The pair earned a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

Witnesses sought to reported sexual assault in downtown Victoria

Early morning incident happened near Quadra and View streets

Most Read