Pubdate: Sun, 11 Jan 2004
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Province
Author: Adrienne Tanner, Ian Bailey and Steve Berry


David Basi's Shawnigan Lake Home Was Busted For A Marijuana Grow-Op At The 
Same Time His Office Was Being Raided

SHAWNIGAN LAKE -- Police dismantled a marijuana grow operation about two 
weeks ago in a Shawnigan Lake home owned by David Basi, the former 
assistant to Finance Minister Gary Collins and the man at the centre of 
B.C.'s latest political scandal.

The drug raid, at 3260 Shawnigan Lake Rd., happened during the Christmas 
holidays. It was around the same time police raided Basi's office in the 
legislature as part of a 20-month investigation into organized crime, 
commercial crime and drugs.

Basi, who was fired after the raid on his office, purchased the rural 
Shawnigan Lake property for $180,000 in March, but lives at another address.

Bob Brown, who lives across the street from the grow-op, said he was 
advised by police from Victoria to keep quiet about the raid on the grow-op.

"They got a bunch of plants in there. I'm not allowed to talk about it . . 
. because the investigation is not over."

There was no evidence of forced entry at the abandoned yellow house on 
Friday. However, a number of wilted but still green marijuana leaves were 
lying on a porch.

On Dec. 28, police seized 32 boxes of documents from the offices of Basi 
and Robert Virk, who worked as an aide to Transportation Minister Judith Reid.

Virk has been suspended with pay.

Shawnigan Lake RCMP said they were aware the Victoria police had conducted 
a raid in their area but were not given specifics.

Victoria police refused to comment.

Chris Considine, Basi's lawyer, confirmed the property was raided by 
police, but said his client knew nothing about the drug raid.

"The normal practice is for the police to contact the landlord if there's 
been a raid," he said.

"It's a rental property but he has not been contacted by the police 
whatsoever with respect to a raid on the rental property.

"He's instructed me to co-operate fully with police in this matter," 
Considine said.

Basi was the victim of unscrupulous tenants who have vacated the property, 
he said.

"This is a common problem for many owners of rental properties in B.C.," 
said the lawyer.

Indeed, in May 1996, police raided a grow-operation at a Surrey home 
belonging to then attorney-general Ujjal Dosanjh.

Dosanjh's tenant pleaded guilty and paid a $1,200 fine.

Neighbours living near Basi's Shawnigan Lake property said the house had 
been vacant for some time.

"At one time it was rented out, but we hadn't seen anyone there for a long 
time," Brown said.

Vera Ferguson, another neighbour, agreed.

"It's been vacant a couple of years."

Through the windows, the only furniture to be seen in the house was a black 
reclining chair.

There were also a few piles of two-by-fours and a saw in the kitchen area.

On Friday, Considine issued a statement from Basi in response to a media 
report that police are investigating whether Basi was involved in a 
drug-trafficking ring and a potential breach of trust regarding the sale of 
B.C. Rail.

"David Basi is unable to comment on any specifics of the police 
investigation, as the matter is before the courts and is the subject of a 
sealing order by the Associate Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of 
British Columbia [Patrick Dohm]."

"However, Mr. Basi states that he has not done anything wrong and has 
co-operated fully with the police investigation.

"He expects to be completely exonerated at the conclusion of the process."

Considine also noted that it would be "inappropriate and unfair to 
speculate on what the police may or may not be investigating" and 
emphasized the importance of letting the process unfold in a proper manner.
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