How did the offer of a deal to David Basi and Bob Virk come about? That’s the question nobody’s asked.
On the day the deal became public, Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino said he never saw the final offer until 9:40 AM the morning the deal was announced. Attorney General Mike de Jong says he wasn’t part of it. The defence didn’t approach the government or the Special Prosecutor.
No one has admitted to initiating the deal.
What is on the record is that there were two parts to the deal worked out by two different parties.
The first and most straightforward part was the plea deal and sentencing deal – especially the sentencing. That was fully in the hands of Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino.
The Special Prosecutor had previously proposed a variety of deals involving federal prison time. Those had been rejected out of hand. This time he came back to the table offering two years of house arrest for David Basi and Bob Virk. Charges against Aneal Basi were to be dropped.
A pretty limp conclusion to a trial with big allegations.
But the Special Prosecutor knew all along that no offer on the pleas or the sentence would be enough to get a deal. There was the outstanding issue of costs. And that’s the second part that had to be put together.
Under provincial policy a conviction waives the indemnity all high level employees receive. With the guilty plea – even to reduced charges – David Basi and Bob Virk would be liable for $3 million each in legal costs. That was the deal breaker. It meant bankruptcy and the loss of their family homes.
It wasn’t in Berardino’s power to do anything about it. Yet he says he didn’t work with the government to achieve it. And only the government could fix that part and complete the deal.
According to Attorney General Mike de Jong he was not involved in the decision to reach a deal with Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk. Issues relating to defence costs were decided by the deputy ministers of the Attorney-General and of Finance. But de Jong’s comments make it clear that he didn’t send that part of the deal to those two officials to resolve.
So here’s the question that never got asked: Who asked the ministry officials to resolve the money issue? And who communicated that to Berardino and the defence?
In other words, who was the glue between the two pieces?
First of all, it couldn’t have been a run of the mill deputy. Line deputies take orders before they overturn public policy, especially when it’s on a career limiting deal like this one.
No, we have to look elsewhere for the glue that put the deal together.
Think about it. It had to be someone who can give a line deputy their marching orders. It had to be someone who knew exactly what was at stake for the government, someone who knew the political risks involved in the trial. It had to be someone who knew everything about the case. It had to be someone with hiring and firing power, someone you don’t want to cross.
All roads lead to one place. It had to be at least one of three people in the Premier’s office who ordered up the deal.