BC Rail trial cost $18 million, attorney general says
B.C. Attorney General Mike de Jong says the cost of the B.C. legislature raid case is $18 million.
"Here's the best estimate and there are still some invoices coming in, but it's a hefty price tag, probably in the range of $18 million," he said Friday.
De Jong said the $18 million includes the $6 million in defence costs for former government aides Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, who both pleaded guilty to corruption charges.
The $18 million does not include RCMP investigation costs, which have not been made public, he said.
De Jong says the $18 million covers the costs of Crown counsel, defence, the court and document handling.
"That's our best estimate and it is a heckuva lot of money," he said.
Basi and Virk, former Liberal operatives, pleaded guilty this week to charges of breach of trust and accepting a benefit in connection with the 2003 deal to privatize the former Crown-owned BC Rail.
The two men were sentenced to two years less a day of house arrest.
The Basi and Virk guilty pleas were one more momentous moment in a captivating and slow-moving case that started in December 2003 with a shocking raid on the B.C. legislature by RCMP officers investigating the $1-billion sale of BC Rail.
The men admitted to breaking their oath of office by revealing secrets, disclosing confidential cabinet documents and leaking information that was supposed to be solicitor-client privileged to OmniTrax, one of the bidders for the railway.
In exchange for the information, Basi admitted he took $25,695 in cash and both men admitted to receiving a trip to Colorado, where they went with their wives to a National Football League game.
Aneal Basi, Dave Basi's cousin, was accused of money laundering but charges against him were dropped when Crown and defence lawyers agreed he had "no knowledge" of the offences Dave Basi was committing.
Basi also pleaded guilty to a charge of offering a benefit, by telling officials at a development company he would help them have property removed from the agricultural land reserve.
Basi admitted to accepting $50,000 from the development company. But prosecutor Bill Berardino told the judge Basi's actions on the land reserve didn't influence the decisions of government.
In addition to the house arrest, Basi agreed to pay a fine of $75,000.
Basi and Virk signed non-disclosure agreements as part of their plea bargain that prevents them from speaking about their time in government.
Opposition New Democrat Leader Carole James said the province must reveal all details of the arrangement, alleging taxpayer money was used to keep the pair quiet.
Premier Gordon Campbell rejected calls for a public inquiry into the matter, saying the case has already cost too much money and has proven that two corrupt political appointees who acted alone were at fault.
On Friday, a Vancouver Island development company was fined $200,000 for bribing a government official linked to a corruption case involving the sale of BC Rail.
Shambrook Hills Development Corp., also known as Sunriver Estates, pled guilty to one count of paying $50,000 to Dave Basi for his attempts to remove farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The court heard the land was in the process of being removed from the reserve when the bribe occurred.