Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wright, Duffy Accused of Fraud, Bribery. Harper Knew. Perrin Fingered. The Net is Cast, Let's See Who Else Gets Caught In It.

There it is, the cat is now squarely among the pigeons.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, is being investigated for bribery, fraud and breach of trust along with Senator Mike Duffy, in an RCMP probe that has expanded to include the Prime Minister's Office, court documents released today show.

RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton says in the court documents that there is reasonable grounds to believe Wright offered money or favour to Duffy contrary to the Criminal Code. Horton alleges Duffy agreed to accept the offer of money.
Horton also alleges Wright and Duffy "have committed Bribery, Frauds on the Government, and Breach of Trust."
The documents include email excerpts that suggest numerous senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office were involved in the negotiations.
Horton details alleged negotiations between Duffy's then lawyer, Janice Payne, and PMO legal counsel Benjamin Perrin.

Last May, a news report revealed Wright had paid Duffy's expenses for him. Horton alleges in the court documents that the payment was part of an agreement that would have seen the government end a Senate audit into Duffy's spending, and confirm that he was eligible to sit as the senator from P.E.I., despite having lived in Ottawa for decades.


Further info from CBC News.  Wright e-mail says Harper knew.

Emails from the Prime Minister's Office, reviewed by Horton, also suggest Stephen Harper knew more than he has so far allowed.

"The PM knows, in broad terms only, that I personally assisted Duffy when I was getting him to agree to repay the expenses," Wright said in an email May 14, according to the Horton's affidavit.
---- There's an awful lot of stuff there to digest.  Former PMO chief legal counsel and Harper's personal legal advisor, Benjamin Perrin, negotiated the $90K deal with Duffy's solicitor, Janice Payne.  That would suggest that Perrin was a party to the transaction.  He's a law professor, after all, one who is expert in constitutional and criminal law.   Hard to see how he's exempt from liability for facilitating what the cops claim is a serious bribe.  And, with Perrin now neck deep in the fetid cauldron, that brings us ever closer to Stephen Harper.

Perrin was Harper's personal legal advisor.   There's a whole raft of very clear lawyer-client responsibilities that arise out of that relationship.  One of them would be a duty to avoid any conflict of interest.  Another would be a fiduciary duty to Harper that would absolutely require Perrin to ensure Harper knew all about the payment.  You just can't run that behind your client's back.

Then there's the matter of Perrin's abrupt departure from the PMO in April when he suddenly hightailed it back to the west coast and the law faculty of UBC.  The deal is done in March. Perrin splits in April.  The scandal breaks in May.

Horton's affidavit confirms this was always about a lot more than just money.  It was about corruption.   It was about subverting the Senate.  It was about laundering the Senate audit on Duffy and rigging the issue of his residence.   There were top Tories in the Senate who facilitated this, who played a role in subverting the Senate.  They'll be swept up in the net along with the players in the PMO and, quite possibly, Stephen Harper.

Stephen Harper?  With virtually the entire cadre of senior PMO aides and officials caught up in this, including Harper's personal legal advisor, he has to be on the hook.  Can you imagine the entire Wehrmacht general staff claiming they didn't tell Hitler they were going to invade Poland, that he knew nothing about it?  NO, of course you can't imagine such a thing.

And then there's the smoking gun documents Duffy's legal counsel, Don Bayne, referenced. Someone who has read them told me they have "Harper's fingerprints all over them."  We still haven't seen those.

This might be Stephen Harper's "Richard Nixon" moment.    

1 comment:

Dana said...

I wonder how the UBC Law Faculty is taking this.