Two former B.C. government aides received thousands of dollars in cash and meals, tickets to an NFL game in Colorado and offers for a federal political job in exchange for leaking confidential documents, a Crown lawyer said on the opening day of a corruption trial.
Bill Berardino said yesterday that Dave Basi and Bobby Virk passed on the government information they swore to keep secret to a Victoria-based lobbyist working for one of three bidders vying for B.C. Rail.
He said a third former government employee, Aneal Basi, allegedly moved “regular payments” from the lobbyist through his bank account to that of his cousin, Dave Basi.
Virk and Dave Basi are facing charges of fraud and breach of trust, while Aneal Basi is charged with money laundering.
The lobbyist, Erik Bornmann, is a key witness who is expected to testify under an immunity agreement, Berardino said in laying out the Crown’s case.
Bornmann worked for Pilothouse, the firm that represented Denver-based OmniTrax as it tried to buy B.C. Rail.
All charges stem from the men’s activities between April 2002 and December 2003 in connection with the $1-billion sale of the Crown-owned corporation.
The criminal investigation culminated in a sensational raid of the ornate B.C. legislature building on Dec. 28, 2003, when Mounties armed with search warrants carted away dozens of boxes of evidence.
At the time, Dave Basi worked for then-finance minister Gary Collins and Virk was employed in the office of then-transportation minister Judith Reid.
Virk’s defence lawyer, Kevin McCullough, interrupted usual decorum by objecting twice to the Crown’s opening statement.
Judge Anne MacKenzie responded by telling McCullough the opening statement was proper and threatened to have him removed by the sheriff.