Van Dongen’s BC Rail questions part 3 – the plea bargain

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.

This entry was posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, BC Rail, Christy Clark and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Van Dongen’s BC Rail questions part 3 – the plea bargain

  1. John's Aghast says:

    After re-reading Tsakumis’s blog of 2011/11/16 courtesy of tf (above) I can’t understand why these vermin aren’t in lockup.

    And this was 4 1/2 months ago! Talk about the wheels of justice moving slowly. I’ve known of glaciers that were faster than this!

    I commend you all for the job you are doing, at great personal expense and with the only reward (assuming justice WILL eventually prevail) knowing that you were instrumental in cleaning up one the most egregious scams perpetrated on the people of BC in history!

    Thank you!

  2. Norm Farrell says:

    “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?

    I suggest the third party is being paid by government, but for an entirely different file. There is a trail, it just doesn’t connect to the Basi/Virk negotiations.

    Lesson for the young: If you’re going to be a crook, be a white collar criminal and be well educated and well connected. Those elements will give you the tools to gain great rewards with very little risk.

    For people who care, here are the house arrest terms meted out by Justice Anne MacKenzie. Mind you, with a few months still left in their sentence, Basi and Virk are now allowed complete freedom of movement for all but 11pm to 6am. About the only thing the “punishment” encourages is that they get a good night’s sleep

  3. PG says:

    If I was advising Van Dongen and his lawyer, I would request to view the actual deal that released the two defendents from repaying the legal fees.

    Why not write directly to the 3 parties (BC Gov, Basi and Virk) and get the dirty deal? Is there an obligation on Basi and Virk not to release the deal? If they are a party to it, can’t they release their deal?

    What if the language in the deal contained the word “IF”, the defendents plead guilty then the fees will be waived….

    Afterall, the guilty pleas were not “secured” until the 18th of October and the deal was signed on October 14th. Something stinks with this deal and I can only hope that John Van Dongen will get to the truth.

  4. paisley says:

    Let me see. Is this how the time line goes. The original charges were laid in December 2004. The trial finally started (six years later) on May 17, 2010 and was anticipated to last 6 weeks but as it turns out the trial was adjourned for the summer on July 6, 2010.
    Without any resumption of the trial, on October 5, 2010 Basi and Virk communicated that they would plead guilty if the taxpayers covered their legal expenses. On October 20, 2010 that deal was agreed to because the defendants would not be able to pay their costs if found guilty.
    I think that is possibly the lamest excuse to discontinue the trial I have seen to date.
    First, the greatest bulk of cost to the taxpayers had already been spent. Secondly, I don’t think anybody could give a rats ass if these criminals had to make payments for the rest of their lives and never cover the costs (dead beat dads can’t claim bankruptcy to avoid paying what they owe, why shouldn’t real crooks get the same treatment). If the trial had proceeded and they were found not guilty, the taxpayers were footing the bill anyway. I don’t think the public were that concerned about saving a couple of nickels after the boatloads of money had already been spent.
    Good try, Mr. Plant but your explanation due to cost is a fail.
    The public trust can be restored and we smell blood.

  5. Take away Basi & Virk’s homes and bankrupt them and put them on the street! Don’t slam me for putting their families on the street, they can crawl to Social Services like others who have lost everything, sometimes not their fault, but B&V it was their fault, and they got away with it, and got 6 million in legal fees paid by us. Now Revenue Canada needs to tax them on the gift we gave them. It was a gift, and if CRA doesn’t collect, then they may be Acting in Bad Faith as well! Another crime has been committed by allowing these criminals to keep their homes and assetts! We the people need to watch those in power!

  6. Ian says:

    As far as I can tell Basi and Virk were thrown to the hounds to distract from far more serious – government wide – “indiscretions”. They always said the “investigation” was targetted at them and away from the big fish. If you look at who chose not to run again – Collins, Reid and Clark – and the activities that were screened out – Kinsella’s dual role, Reichart’s “fundraising” – then it looks to me like it was tailored.

    This last decade reminds me of a modern day update of Pillars of Profit, Martin Robin’s political economic history of post war BC.

  7. John's Aghast says:

    Norm; I’ve been following this fiasco for what seems to be forever but am still in the dark. It would seem from Alex’s blog referenced above that the third man was Wally Oppal; and David Loakidelis’ “…efforts which began the discussion of the removal of security on the properties of Messers Basi & Virk.” I gather Graham Whitmarsh was involved too. (BTW, where ARE these two?)

    And, Gordon Stewart, I don’t wish to further ruin your day but: “….and they got away with it, and got 6 million in legal fees paid by us”. Not only that, but according Tsukamis (above) “…and a bonus… a rather large ONE, each.” He enlarges on that statement in the ‘Comments’.
    He also assurred me (I can’t locate the blog, sorry) that it was taxfree. No-one yet has told me if they’re collecting their pensions yet.

  8. Lew says:

    Mr. Plant says “it was understood that with guilty pleas, the claim to fee recovery would be waived.” In other words the fee recovery waiver was conditional on the guilty pleas. I have a letter from the Legal Services Branch that says the opposite. The Deputy Minister of Finance in fact amended the indemnity agreements prior to the guilty pleas. No inducement?

    Mr. Plant says, “What was offered were guilty pleas on behalf of the two key defendants.” And, “No release, and the trial continues.” So we have an offer, an acceptance, capable parties, and a consideration. No legally binding deal?

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