The agreement to pay the $6 million cost of the defence’s legal fees in the BC Rail trial was one part of a two part deal stitched together after the government realized the defence was about to drop a bomb on the trial, according to sources.
Two days ago former Attorney General Geoff Plant claimed that the deal to pay Basi and Virk’s legal fees in the BC Rail case was separate from the sentencing deal. “What is clear is that there was no legally binding [indemnification] deal,” wrote Plant. “There couldn’t be. The waiver of recovery of fees was not and could not be an inducement to plead guilty.”
But then, as RossK over at the Gazetteer perceptively noted, Plant went on to say “…it was understood that with guilty pleas, the claim to fee recovery would be waived.”
In other words the two parts of the deal – no matter what former and present BC Liberal politicians claim – had to be completely stitched together to make it work. That “understanding” wasn’t created through telepathy.
The October 2010 deal wasn’t the first plea bargain attempt. Special Prosecutor Berardino made several attempts before then. All were rejected.
What happened to change that in the Fall of 2010? What was it that Plant left out of his version of the story?
Two things: What triggered the deal; and the means by which it was put together.
For years the Special Prosecutor offered nothing less than federal prison time in exchange for guilty pleas in the case. That all changed in October 2010. In two weeks prison turned into house arrest and no indemnification turned into a $6 million government bill.
One thing explains the motivation to back away from old positions and get the deal done: the prosecution’s announcement prior to the October 2010 break that former Finance minister Gary Collins would be the prosecution’s next witness.
That announcement gave the defence team an opportunity to play their trump card, kick starting a frenzied process to bring the trial to an end.
And the trump card was an RCMP recording of a conversation between BC Liberal Party Executive Director Kelly Reichart and David Basi – a recording that has been revealed by Alex Tsakumis who published the RCMP continuation report of the recording on his website.
According to the RCMP report Tsakumis published, the executive director of the BC Liberal Party is caught offering David Basi a “tip” to set up a meeting with his boss Gary Collins on behalf of a donor. I’ve been told that that recording was critical to the defence strategy.
An alleged bribe for a government favour. If proven, that’s nasty. Just dropping that bomb would have been very big.
By calling Collins, the prosecution created the opportunity to do exactly that – drop the bomb. And I’ve been told that trump card was conveyed to the government.
Now the second part: once it became known that the defence had that in hand how did the deal get done?
Plant’s kind of contradictory argument is kind of correct. The two parts of the deal – the reduced sentences and the indemnification – came together without the direct knowledge of the Prosecutor or the government.
There was, as Plant put it, an “understanding” that the fees would be waived that together with reduced sentences would be enough for a guilty plea. But – and this is the part Plant was silent on – to move from “an understanding to a plea bargain” someone had to do some sewing and put the two pieces together in real time.
I’ve been told a third party did the stitching, going between the three parties critical to the deal to ensure that necessary pieces were not just agreed to but in place – reduced sentences, indemnification and guilty pleas.
If you follow Plant’s logic, how could it be otherwise? The understanding he speaks of had to be communicated and acted upon to come true. And it couldn’t be done with all the parties in one room.
If I was van Dongen, these are the issues I would spend my time and money investigating and here some of the questions I’d ask:
- Have the RCMP destroyed the Reichart tapes?
- Will they release them?
- How did the “understanding” turn into a plea bargaining?
- Was there a third party, as I’m told there was?
- Who was the third party who put the parts of the plea bargain deal together?
- Was a third party paid? Were favours involved?
- Was the Premier’s office involved? The Deputy AG? The AG?
- Was the “understanding” at sufficient remove that it was legal? Or did it still constitute an inducement?
This happened a year and a half ago. Why is it still important?
Because British Columbians deserve to know if the indemnification deal was in their interests – as Plant very weakly claims – or part of a continuing cover-up of shady and even illegal activities stemming from the RCMP investigation into the BC Rail deal.