One year after police raided offices in the British Columbia Legislature, two former ministerial aides and a third person connected to the government have been charged with multiple counts in a breach-of-trust investigation.
Former aides David Basi and Robert Virk are charged with three counts of fraud on the government, two counts of fraud and one count of breach of trust by a public officer, the B.C. criminal justice branch announced yesterday.
Aneal Basi, a public affairs officer in the B.C. Ministry of Transportation for the past three years, has been charged with one count of fraud on the government and one count of breach of trust by a public officer.
At the time of the raids, last Dec. 28, Mr. Basi was an aide to Gary Collins, who was minister of finance until just last week when he resigned to take a private-sector job. He said his departure had nothing to do with the ongoing case.
Mr. Virk was an assistant to then transportation minister Judith Reid. He went on a leave after the raids, and Ms. Reid was soon shunted to the back benches.
Aneal Basi, David Basi's cousin, had not been named in the case until yesterday. He is perhaps best known as a field hockey star in Victoria. He recently went on leave from his public-affairs job.
David Basi and Mr. Virk were organizers in British Columbia's Indo-Canadian community for Prime Minister Paul Martin's leadership campaign and operated as a group called Basi's Boys.
Known for their ability to sign up new members and for their control of several Vancouver Island ridings, they trace their roots to an association formed while they were Young Liberals at the University of Victoria.
Police have said the legislature offices were searched after a drug investigation triggered a second investigation that led to suspicions of money-laundering and breach of trust.
Earlier this year, David Basi, who was fired shortly after the legislature raids, was charged with marijuana production and trafficking. He is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 26.
The case has long been cloaked in judicial secrecy, with many documents sealed or, when released, heavily censored.
But in the past few months, various pieces in the joint investigation by the RCMP and Victoria Police Department, code-named Operation Everywhichway, have been revealed.
Drug charges have been laid against several individuals, and an obstruction-of-justice charge was laid recently against a suspended Victoria police officer.
How all the parts of Operation Everywhichway are allegedly linked has not been made clear by the police or the two teams of Crown prosecutors who are separately handling the drug and breach-of-trust aspects of the case.
A summary of the case against David Basi and Mr. Virk that was released in September alleged the two men had been trading in stolen government documents related to B.C. government plans to sell BC. Rail and Roberts Bank, a bulk coal-loading facility connected to the railway.
The case summary alleged that David Basi and Mr. Virk delivered confidential documents to a third party, apparently in the hopes of furthering their aspirations to win chief-of-staff positions with the Liberal government in Ottawa.
Police executed nine search warrants at the time they raided the legislature, including offices of public-relations experts and key Liberal officials in British Columbia. But in court documents subsequently released, police stated that only David Basi and Mr. Virk were the subjects of the breach-of-trust investigation.
The drug investigation proceeded separately, leading to charges against several other individuals.