Sunday, July 27, 2008

BC Auction house is for government use only, however.....

In my reading of various columnist writings of the PWC audit that was commissioned by the Board of Directors for ICBC on "repair-a-wreck-and-make-a-fortune", there's one part of the story that seems just beyond the horizon. Iain Black is the Minister responsible for Labour and Citizen Services, which includes BC Auction, who so far has failed to step and into the news media spotlight to explain what role it played out in the ICBC scandal as the designated auctioneer. The story so far, is that an "auction" house accepted $100 top-up bids from third parties that guaranteed that the cars being sold, on behalf of ICBC, would be returned to those that conspired to rip consumers off and ICBC.

As much as the BC Liberals promised to crack down on cybercrime, their gesture has been a feeble attempt at the least.

"Minister Iain Black officially opened the new International Cybercrime Research
Centre
located at Simon Fraser University Surrey Centre campus July 8. The
Province has provided $350,000 in grants to help the centre in investigating
online crime trends and developing tools to counter emerging threats. "

Whether its one columnist using the word "auction" or another using the phrase "wholesale auto auction", one thing is obvious, the steps that the BC Liberals took to ensure that BC Auction wouldn't find itself on the front pages of newspaper has been amply done by PWC by their not having mentioned specifically, that BC Auction, was involved and there's the rub.

Any government asset that needs liquidating, must be done in-house by BC Auction, and if the rebuilt wrecks that managers and staff collaberated on together to fool ICBC Board of Directors, and BC Liberal politicians that is what was truly happening, a revenue generator from wrecked cars, then they must be the ones who still believe in the fairy tale stories that geese can lay golden eggs. If the written off wrecks weren't funneled to the outside world in-house via AIR, then how did they make it outside without using an auction house not related to the Government?

BC Auction has had a well documented history of selling off computer tapes and the equipment to read them, along with government computers with VERY sensitive data on them that included health records, personal information, Care Card numbers, addresses, phone numbers, everything that anyone that was interested in knowing in regards to Identity Theft... the BC Government was front and centre.

The ball is in your Court Mr. Black, what have you got to say?

Oh, and by the way, why is there a preferential treatment towards public service employees when it comes to registering with BC Bid?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What's holding the NDP back from making a formal complaint to the RCMP?

Complaint needed to investigate ICBC scandal, RCMP say
Last Updated: Thursday, April 3, 2008 5:16 PM ET

The Canadian Press

The Insurance Corporation of B.C. has turned over more information to
police about a scandal involving rebuilt cars, but it's still not clear if the Mounties will launch a criminal investigation.

The scheme saw nearly 100 written-off vehicles repaired at ICBC's training facility in Burnaby and then sold without proper documentation of the repairs. Twenty-two of the vehicles were bought by ICBC staff and managers at auctions that may have involved in rigged bidding.

ICBC spokesman Doug Henderson said the company initially provided the RCMP with information from an internal probe, but now it's passed along additional details that will allow the Mounties to assess whether they need to do their own investigation.

But an RCMP spokesman said ICBC would have to make a formal complaint before a criminal investigation could be launched.

The NDP has demanded the ICBC internal probe be made public, but acting Solicitor General John van Dongen has said an independent audit being done by PricewaterhouseCoopers will eventually be made public.


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Now that is a real hoot.... "will eventually be made public".......

What we need is an unadulterated audit without any censorship whiteout having been used.

Head of ICBC quits amid car sale scandal

Hot link = Paul Taylor won't get severance due to voluntary resignation

CBC Friday, April 4, 2008 10:57 PM ET


The CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia has resigned amid a scandal involving close to 100 cars repaired at the Crown corporation's Burnaby facility that were sold without proper disclosure of their accident history.

{SNIP}

Taylor told reporters Friday night that he already has a new job lined up but didn't say where it is, only that it will keep him in B.C. "My decision to take this job is unrelated to anything at ICBC," Taylor said. "It's an opportunity that came to me. In terms of the recent issues [at ICBC], we're working hard to address them."

{SNIP}

B.C. Solicitor General John van Dongen says the government is disappointed with CEO Paul Taylor's decision to leave ICBC in May. "Mr. Taylor's move to the private sector was his decision and the [ICBC] board is deeply disappointed that he is leaving," he said in a written statement. Turner also said the board has full confidence in ICBC's senior management team, which will run the corporation while it searches for a new CEO.

Government disappointed

B.C. Solicitor General John van Dongen said Friday the government is disappointed with Taylor's decision to leave. {SNIP} ICBC closed the Burnaby facility in February, when it learned that 98 repaired cars and trucks were sold without full disclosure of their accident history. At least 22 of the 98 wrecked vehicles repaired at the facility were bought by ICBC managers at rigged auctions, according to an internal investigation released this month.

Opposition Leader Carole James said {SNIP} "It just seems like a huge coincidence that Paul Taylor says he has to be leaving on a late Friday afternoon."

SALVAGED-VEHICLE CONTROVERSY

Opposition calls for top-level changes at ICBC

NDP decries reappointment of three insurance board members, but Solicitor-General defends agency's handling of recent scandal

Hot Link = Globe and Mail

ROBERT MATAS

July 19, 2008

VANCOUVER -- Directors of the Insurance Corp. of B.C. should be held accountable for failing to provide adequate oversight while employees participated in a controversial scheme to buy damaged vehicles fixed up at its collision-repair training facility, NDP critic Michael Farnworth says.

"If the government is serious that they are making changes at ICBC, it is not good enough to just say, 'Yeah, some people who did this are not there,' " Mr. Farnworth said yesterday in an interview. "This is a significant blow to the public view of ICBC. The government needs to move and make not only changes in polices and procedures but also changes at the board level."

{SNIP}

Mr. Farnworth said directors on the board's human resources and compensation committee should have been asking questions and ensuring they knew what was taking place. The government should not have re-appointed Ken Martin, chairman of the board's human resources and compensation committee or two other directors, Neil de Gelder and Diane Fulton, who were reappointed at the same time, he said.

"Something is really wrong," he said. "The government knows about this investigation, they know that this report is coming down and they go ahead and reappoint three members of the board that have been there while the whole scandal has taken place."

{SNIP}

Mr. van Dongen also said he took exception to criticism coming from Mr. Farnworth. Some of the systemic problems that the board is dealing with developed over many years starting in 1998, when Mr. Farnworth was the minister responsible for ICBC in the NDP government, Mr. Van Dongen said.

"It appears to me Michael Farnworth is throwing stones at people who acted immediately and competently when they became aware of it. In fact, the problem started under his watch," Mr. van Dongen said.

{SNIP}

ICBC explains how vehicles sold with incorrect repair history

From Bodyshop Magazine

- Daily News Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia has cleaned house and implemented new policies in the wake of investigations into the sale of vehicles repaired at ICBC's Burnaby-based research and training facility.

PricewaterhouseCoopers was retained by ICBC to conduct an independent, external investigation into concerns that some vehicles repaired at the facility were sold with a repair history that was incorrectly documented and not disclosed to buyers.

The PwC report released in July substantiated ICBC's initial findings that there was a general lack of controls and conflicting policies and procedures regarding the appropriate vehicle designation and around employee purchase of vehicles repaired at the facility. In addition, the report found that appropriate actions were not taken by the management responsible when concerns were raised about the facility prior to January, 2008.

What went wrong?

These are excerpts of ICBC's explanation to the media, released in July in conjunction with the PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

"After a vehicle is identified as a total loss, ICBC's Salvage Department gives it one of four designations: Dismantle Purposes Only; Salvage; Total Theft; Vehicle Repaired. These internal designations are used to trigger the appropriate status in the Vehicle Registration System – the information the public sees.

A vehicle designated as salvage can be repaired. It can be licensed and insured after being structurally and mechanically inspected by a Designated Inspection Facility. Once this is complete it is considered a rebuilt vehicle. A vehicle designated as vehicle repaired was originally estimated as repairable and sent to an external collision repair shop. In some circumstances, over the course of the repairs, the costs increased making the vehicle a total loss. While in other circumstances, ICBC decided to buy the vehicle from the customer for customer service reasons.

The damage history of 94 vehicles repaired at the research and training facility was not properly documented and disclosed. This means the true repair state of the vehicle was not reflected in the vehicle registration system – the information the public sees. This was done one of two ways:

ICBC salvage department designation switched from Salvage to Vehicle Repaired. Payment code changed from 'total loss' to 'cash settlement'.

The practice of some employees and managers purchasing vehicles was condoned by a specific line of authority within ICBC. While this practice did not explicitly violate ICBC's policies and procedures, it resulted in inappropriate actions and the appearance of a conflict of interest. This management group also condoned the improper use of the facility.

ICBC has already taken steps to make sure nothing like this happens again, and we are committed to implementing all of the recommendations in the PwC report."

Vaughn Palmer's 5 column expose on the ICBC scandal

FIFTH COLUMN


Hot link to the Vancouver Sun for the full article = ICBC scandal remains concealed by Liberals' all-purpose stonewall

"Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun

Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2008

VICTORIA -

Dropped by the cabinet meeting Tuesday, seeking answers about the Insurance Corp. of B.C. Ran smack dab into a stonewall erected by cabinet-minister-for-ICBC John van Dongen. Was any compensation paid to anyone who left the employ of ICBC as a result of the scandal at the research centre? "I can't comment on personnel matters," replied van Dongen. "There's a body of law around that." Can't comment for legal reasons. That has become the all-purposes refuge for B.C. Liberals in this, their seventh year in office."

Snipped the rest

vpalmer@direct.ca




*******************************************************
Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun

Published: Saturday, July 26, 2008


FOURTH COLUMN

Hot link to the Vancouver Sun for the full article = Lawsuit threatens to shine some light in the shadows of the ICBC scandal


VICTORIA - While the Insurance Corp. of B.C. refuses to say if anyone was fired over the scandal at its research facility, a former vice-president now says he was made a scapegoat in the affair.

Mark Withenshaw has launched a lawsuit, seeking a substantial payout and damages, arising out of his dismissal from ICBC a few weeks after the scandal broke. "The dismissal was in bad faith and was for political reasons, related to an embarrassing scandal that involved employees of the defendant other than the plaintiff," says the writ filed in B.C. Supreme Court this month. The 27-year veteran of the government-owned auto insurance corporation was vice-president of driver services at the time of his ouster.

{Snip}


I'd be surprised if Loukidelis says there's an absolute ban on any statement of accountability -- for instance that X number of unnamed people were let go and the corporation paid X dollars in compensation. But in the event the commissioner does take that position, Farnworth raises a second request: "That you consider making recommendations for changes in the legislation that would promote greater accountability and transparency by public sector employers, particularly in circumstances that give the appearance of organized fraud and deception,and undermine the public trust." Strong language, but warranted in a case where privacy concerns are being raised partly to cover political butts.

The Withenshaw writ can be read online at
www.cbc.ca/bc, the website for CBC British Columbia, which reported the story last week.

vpalmer@direct.ca

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THIRD COLUMN



Hot link to the Vancouver Sun for the full article = Your role in cleaning up the ICBC mess: Picking up the $2.5-million tab

Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun

Published: Friday, July 25, 2008

VICTORIA - The Insurance Corp. of B.C. has paid out $2.5 million to clean up the fallout from the recent scandal involving its research facility. That's how much ICBC spent compensating people who bought vehicles out of the facility without knowing their true condition as damaged goods. ICBC bought back 83 vehicles outright and paid redress to the owners of another 10 in the costly effort to put the scandal behind it. Compensation was warranted, investigators found, because of a substantive failure to disclose the condition of vehicles rebuilt and resold by the material damage, research and training (MDR&T) facility. Almost half the vehicles -- 42 in all -- should have been classed as "irreparable," meaning they were not in any sense roadworthy. Those instances were of "particular concern because they should never have been repaired and put back on the road," said the investigation report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

{SNIP}

Of the 93 tainted vehicles cited above, 33 were purchased by ICBC employees, using their preferred access to the auction process run by the research facility. Given the cosy nature of the arrangements at ICBC, you wonder if any of the insiders, unlike members of the unsuspecting public, knew what they were getting into when buying those vehicles. Nevertheless they were deemed to be entitled to compensation, so some of that $2.5 million went to folks who still work for ICBC.

vpalmer@direct.ca

********************************************************
SECOND COLUMN


Hot link to the Vancouver Sun for the full article = Policy construed to create a culture of entitlement at ICBC


Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun


Published: Thursday, July 24, 2008


VICTORIA - Throughout the period of the recent scandal at the Insurance Corporation of B.C., the code of conduct for employees said about what you would expect it to say as a public corporation. "It is critical that employees maintain the highest standards of honesty, integrity and impartiality in conducting the corporation's business.

"This requires employees to take special pains to avoid situations where their personal interests could conflict with the interest of the corporation. "Corporate property is to be used for conducting the corporation's business and it is not to be used for other purposes without approval."

Not much room for doubt, as I read it. Nevertheless some ICBC managers managed to construe the policy to create what amounted to a culture of entitlement inside the company. For instance, they decided that the Burnaby-based material damage, research and training facility could be used for after hours repairs on vehicles owned by ICBC employees, their family and friends. The PricewaterhouseCoopers investigation turned up two dozen instances of after-hours repair jobs by employees and "connected parties." In no case, did they pay for the use of the facility. Another permitted departure from the spirit of the guidelines involved insider access to the sale of vehicles that were refurbished at the facility. Those vehicles were supposed to be sold to the highest bidder at public auction. But insiders were given preference, providing they were willing to pay $100 above the highest bid from the public.

{SNIP}

I don't dispute that ICBC had to edit the investigation report to remove all names and identifications. But I don't believe the ICBC brass, or minister in charge John van Dongen, are precluded from responding to some basic no-name questions for starters.
Was anyone fired over this scandal? Were they paid compensation? If so, what was the total payout?

I suspect their reluctance has more to do with shielding ICBC and the government from further embarrassment, than any desire to protect the privacy of individuals.

vpalmer@direct.ca

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FIRST COLUMN



Hot link to the Vancouver Sun for the full article = HOW A PORSCHE BOXSTER BECAME A VITAL LINK IN BARING THE ICBC SCANDAL



Vaughn Palmer Vancouver Sun - Tuesday, July 22, 2008

VICTORIA - The most revealing episode in the scandal at the Insurance Corp. of B.C. is the case of the 1998 Porsche Boxster. The pricey sports car was damaged in an accident and declared a writeoff by ICBC's claims division. But it gained a second lease on life after being turned over to the corporation's material damage, research and training facility.

The now-infamous in-house "chop shop" went to work on restoring the supposed writeoff. For the outlay of almost $9,000 in parts and a considerable amount of free labour, it was returned to full roadworthiness. The refurbished Porsche was then turned over to a dealer and sold via wholesale auction. The vehicle transfer documents neglected to disclose the extent of the work done on the car, consequently the new owner had no way of knowing his Boxster was previously damaged goods.

{SNIP}

Hmmm . . . now what's that all about?

It likely related to a significant change of policy at ICBC not long after the B.C. Liberals came to power. The repair facility has been around for 20 years, and the main purpose was and is, as the full name suggests, research and training. ICBC employees and industry personnel are trained in best practices for repairing vehicles. The facility also conducts research into vehicle safety, more efficient repair techniques and other matters.

But in 2002-2004, ICBC embarked on a led-from-the-top drive to increase revenues and improve the corporate bottom line. In the case of the repair facility, this meant new performance targets specifically aimed at enhancing revenues from recovery and repair of vehicles. Up to that point, these salvage operations were incidental to the main business of the repair centre. Staff would appropriate a vehicle that had been broadsided in an accident to experiment with new ways to straighten the frame. If the technique proved to be successful, the restored vehicle would be put out for auction. The revenue would be dutifully recorded on the books along with the cost of any parts that went into fixing it.

{SNIP}........................................... To recap, the review arising out of the case of the surreptitiously rebuilt Boxster turned up three elements of what proved to be a full-blown racket involving the repair facility -- misleading paperwork, compromised employees and cooked books. This, mind, was January 2007. It would take a full year and another round of whistleblowing before ICBC would finally shut down the racket.

The reasons for that delay constitute one of the most disgraceful aspects of this scandal, as I will explain in a subsequent column.

vpalmer@direct.ca

So you want to work for the BC Liberals, eh!?

Who's to be next when it comes to another scandal story, made available only in BC?


"The highest-paid public servant in British Columbia last year was a man fired by the Campbell government over allegations of lottery retailer fraud.


Vic Poleschuk was terminated June 2007 as president and CEO of the B.C. Lottery Corp., following a report by the province's ombudsman that the lottery system was open to abuse and possible fraud and that lottery officials had failed to protect customers." - CBC Fired B.C. lottery boss wins top pay in public service.

**********************************************

It appears that there is a pattern evolving in the BC Government house of Gordon Campbell BC Liberals, that first came to the public's attention when the RCMP, and the Victoria Police Department, raided the BC Legislature looking for further evidence against government aides David Basi, Bobby Virk, and Aneal Basi.

We were all expecting something to happen, after all it was Christmas again, and special things usually happen at that time of year for those have been good, and nice. Citizen Gordon Campbell on the other hand, was not nice at all, fact is he was downright naughty, for he was charged with DUI while on vacation in Hawaii, not as the Premier of British Columbia mind you, just one dumb motorist who placed his life at risk, and others as well who had the misfortune of travelling on the same highway.

The story pattern is as familiar today as the one we used to play at while in Elementary School.

There's a twist on how the story line is played out today, where the BC Liberals have written a serial plot that begs the question even before the curtain rises on another episode. Who did it, the butler, the baker, or the CEO maker?

Readers need only to fill in the words (supplied), where there is a blank:

The ________(highest)-paid public servant in British Columbia ___(last) ____(year) was a ___ (gender) ____(fired or could it be "quit") by the Campbell government over allegations of _______(BC Rail Consolation prize, lottery, ICBC) fraud.

Now you know how to write your own story, in your own words try filling in the blanks:

".....following a report by the province's _______ that the______ system was open to abuse and possible _____ and that ______ officials had failed to protect customers."


The approach that ICBC has taken on reassuring the public that all is now well, will only happen once a foresnic team of RCMP officers dig into how managers, employees, and the finest of ICBC investigators (in-house police) found the means to create:

How to repair-a-wreck-and-make-a-fortune and not be penalized.