July 11, 2005: Holt writes to Milewski about cheques
July 11, 2005 To: Terry Milewski, CBC Vancouver From: Jim Holt, President Newton North Delta EDA, Conservative Party of Canada.
Verification Information re Six Cheques that Mr. Milewski is investigating.
Reference our discussions of the past three business days, our EDA has been tracking down information on a total of six cheques that have come to your attention as a reporter with CBC.
Given the time lines associated with these items, it hasn't been as difficult as we had first anticipated regarding re-constructing information on these items. One just had to make contact with the appropriate persons, and the task became quite easy actually. In examining this matter, we have found that rather than focus on each cheque, we should perhaps focus on the donor.
This way we feel a picture of just what we feel is going on starts to become a whole lot clearer.
Firstly, we have a Mr. Kandola, who for some reason contacted you (or was referred to you by others) to indicate that he hadn't seemed to have received a receipt for a $200. political donation. To your credit Terry, and we thank you for saving us some time, you yourself were able to determine by examining public Elections Canada records that his cheque was indeed properly receipted. But I guess a question we have back to Mr. Kandola, via you, is just why did he make such a claim in the first place, and why was he in apparent error re the veracity of his claim?
Next we have a Mr. Dhahan. Here we have a person who in addition to attending a political dinner for Gurmant Grewal back in December of 2003 (two thousand three) happens also to be a good friend of Ujjal Dosanjh. And Mr. Dhahan, nearly one and half years after a cheque was written and cleared, is now asking for a receipt for his "donation". In checking this one out, we have determined that the item was countersigned over to The Grand Taj Hall in Surrey to help pay for the dinner, it cleared through their bank, and then presumably went back to Mr. Dhahan's.
We trust that someone is asking (or perhaps maybe someone will be asking) Mr. Dhahan to explain why an event that occurred some time in the distant past didn't seem to need a receipt then, but does now. It would also be interesting to determine if this item was an "outstanding item" in accounting terms, and we guess that only a formal examination of Mr. Dhahan's Income Tax records would determine if this item had been in fact processed as a normal business expense for either 2003 (when the cheque was written), or in 2004 (when the item cleared the bank), or can it indeed be demonstrated by Mr. Dhahan or his auditors that this payment has been kept on his books as an unresolved item all these many months (and through at least one Income tax cycle). For if this item had indeed already been processed in accounting terms, then the accuracy and substance of Mr. Dhahan's claims to you will represent an entirely different legal matter altogether.
Next we have a Mr. Mann. As backgrounder on this complainant, it is a well-known fact that he is a very good friend of Ujjal Dosanjh. So good a friend is he of Mr. Dosanjh that just after the Taping Incident became public, and Mr., Dosanjh's central and principle role in that event became known to the public, Mr. Mann telephoned Mr. Grewal and voiced extreme displeasure with Mr. Grewal's actions. And then just a few short weeks later, up pops a complaint relayed to you regarding two cheques. Mann has provided you with two items, one for $1800. and another for $600. In the matter of the item for $600., our research shows that this item followed the same pattern as Mr. Dhahan's above. Namely, it was used to help pay for the December 2003 dinner, this cheque cleared in nearly identical fashion to that of Mr. Dhahan's, and all of the above questions must be asked of Mr. Mann.
Regarding the cheque in the amount of $1800. our research shows that this cheque was made payable to the Nina Grewal Campaign. This item represents the approximate cash value of the telephone call centre system Mr. Mann supplied to be used by both the Gurmant and Nina Grewal campaigns in June 2004. The reverse of that cheque clearly shows it was properly endorsed by the Registered Agent for Nina Grewal, and deposited to the EDA account. The lack of receipt on this account appears to be a simple clerical error related to the change in volunteer Registered Agents for the Fleetwood-Port Kells campaign. The new Registered Agent assumed his predecessor had issued all official receipts up to the time of the changeover. Our investigation indicates that all of the paperwork and reports are correct, and an official receipt will be issued to Mr. Mann forthwith. (On a perhaps embarrassing note, this sort of thing does happen from time to time, given the large number of items processed by volunteers during a campaign, but we do try to do our best)
This brings us to the Imperial Plumbing cheque in the amount of $1000. Here we must admit we are a bit stumped, not the least due to the fact that the copy of the cheque you forwarded to us doesn't appear to have been endorsed by anyone on the reverse, and the cheque seems to have been cleared at the Khalsa Credit Union the same day it was drawn. Equally baffling is the fact the item was processed at a branch of that credit union about 20 miles from where the cheque was prepared. We are even more baffled by this one, when we examine the date the transaction(s) occurred. Our research indicates that on that date, Mr. Grewal was in Ottawa, and either in his office, or in the House of Commons ("Hansard" can actually verify this).
[Cheque shown at top of page]
This would place Mr. Grewal at a considerable, and verifiable distance from where this cheque was issued, which would have made it remarkably difficult for him to have cashed this cheque made payable to him personally.
This leaves us with the Jas Atwal cheque in the amount of $500. made out to Gurmant Grewal and dated January 14, 2003, which was subsequently deposited into Mr. Grewal's personal account in February of 2003. This cheque is perhaps the most vexing, and infuriating one from our perspective. In investigating this one, we have determined that this cheque had nothing whatsoever to do with politics, or with so-called political donations. Nothing whatsoever! This cheque was countersigned over to Mr. Grewal for a portion of a small private business debt owed to him by a Mr. Gill, who among other things is a respected individual in the Indo Canadian Community. He is also a journalist, and owner of Surrey media outlet "Radio India".
Mr. Gill is prepared to provide a record of the Atwal debt owed to him, and also a sworn statement attesting to the fact that the Atwal cheque was in fact countersigned over to Mr. Grewal for a small and entirely unrelated (to Mr. Atwal) private debt. Further, Mr. Grewal is adamant that the words "For Fund Raiser" which appear on the memo line of this cheque must have been added at a later date (which would be ever so easy to do, and with the actual cheque in the right formal investigative hands, would also be ever so easy to verify). Notwithstanding the fact this item is over two years old, to make a claim that it was a political donation takes us right back up to the hard questions that should be asked of Mr. Mann and Mr. Dhahan.
To conclude, we very much have appreciated the time you have given us in which we could examine the above items, and we trust in turn that you will reciprocally appreciate the time and effort (most of it from committed volunteers) that we have put into providing the answers you have been seeking. We trust that our answers have given you much in the way of additional information, and as is often the case, additional questions to ponder.
We would like to conclude with two important thoughts though. The first is that the common denominator in all of the above is not so much the matter of missing receipts, but rather the fact that loyalty to Ujjal Dosanjh figured large, and often, in our inquiries. This is perhaps not surprising at all, given it is the Liberal Party's sworn intention to do everything it can to deflect attention away from Mr. Ujjal Dosanjh by attempting to shoot the messenger (that would be our Member of parliament) at every opportunity. Even the most flimsy of claims against Mr. Grewal are trotted out in the achievement of the goal of shielding Mr. Dosanjh from additional, or centre-stage scrutiny. We have heard for some time now that there would be a challenge to Mr. Grewal in the form of cheques. Given what we have seen with the above six items, we feel that the strategy of the Liberals will continue, as will our ability to defend our MP.
In addition, our experience during the examination of these items also leaves us with the knowledge of the profound vulnerability of ANY public official who at some later date might have completely logical personal financial transactions dragged out into the public arena. Events turn, opinions change, or agendas are unleashed, and all of a sudden seemingly mundane financial transactions become potential problems (the Atwal item above is the best/worst of the preceding six in this regard). Given this vulnerability, it is incumbent that those investigating such claims must ask all of the pertinent questions of those doing the complaining. It is likely that in a formal legal forum, each of the above claims would have received short shrift (at best) from those doing the examining and in a worst case, were there Audited and/or Income Tax records indicating facts to the contrary, then those doing the complaining would find themselves in quite a bit more trouble than just having to say "Oops, I'm so sorry. I guess that wasn't a political donation after all".