A long-awaited corruption trial involving three Indo-Canadian government officials got underway in the Canadian province of British Columbia with prosecutors pronouncing the charges of money-laundering, bribery and abuse of public trust.
The case against Dave Basi and Bob Virk -- former ministerial aides in the government of BC Premier Gordon Campbell, and Basi's cousin Aneal, finally started on Tuesday with the crown telling jurors how the 2003 sale of Crown-owned BC Rail was tainted.
They said the sale was tainted after the government began taking offers from companies Canadian National (CN), Canadian Pacific and Omni Tracks, a Colorado based company accused of paying Dave Basi thousands of dollars through lobbyist Eric Bornmann.
The three men were charged on Dec 21, 2004 for their role in the corruption case that cast a shadow over the first administration of Premier Campbell.
The accusations of bribery, money-laundering, and abuse of public trust were made by prosecutors in the trial of the three former British Columbia government workers.
Prosecutor Bill Barardino said Bornmann will testify that his company Pilothouse, also bribed Virk for confidential information and Aneal Basi was used as a decoy to get the dirty money to Dave.
The three men were charged on Dec 21, 2004 – and the matter has slowly wound its way through pre-trial hearings until this week.
The list of witnesses who have been subpoenaed in the dramatic political trial include politicians, highly placed bureaucrats and corporate executives.
On the witness list are Campbell's chief of staff, Martin Brown, two of his former deputy ministers and his former finance minister.
Defendants Basi, Virk who were ministerial aides in the early years of the Campbell government, along with Aneal Basi, have pleaded not guilty.
Defence lawyers have suggested in earlier court procedures that the two former ministerial aides were simply following directives from their political masters.
The BC Rail was sold off to Canadian National after Canadian Pacific pulled out of the bidding over stated concerns that the government had already decided to award the line to the former.