Former B.C. MP won't be charged over political donations

Former Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal will not face criminal charges over allegations of misuse of donated money, the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch said Wednesday.
Gurmant Grewal left a news conference in Ottawa in May 2005 after claiming he had been offered a Liberal diplomatic post abroad or a Senate seat for his wife in return for siding with them in a crucial budget vote. The Liberals were cleared of any wrongdoing by the federal ethics commissioner. ((Tom Hanson/Canadian Press))

A former Conservative MP will not face criminal charges over allegations of misuse of donated money, the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch said Wednesday.

Crown counsel made the decision after reviewing results of an RCMP investigation launched in 2005 following complaints that donations given to support Gurmant Grewal's 2004 re-election campaign were deposited into the then Surrey MP's personal bank account.

"The matter was looked at by very senior lawyers in the branch, and all of the particulars were very carefully considered," Crown spokesman Robin Baird told CBC News Wednesday in a telephone interview. "It was determined that there wasn't sufficient evidence to ground any charges under the Criminal Code."

Some of Grewal's supporters at the time told CBC News they wrote cheques to him personally and were never issued tax receipts as required under the Elections Act.

"While some donors may have expected that the donations were to be used as political contributions, the available evidence does not establish that Mr. Grewal was aware of these expectations," says a statement issued Wednesday by the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch.

"The evidence falls short of proving that Mr. Grewal intentionally deceived donors with respect to the purpose of their donations."

Centre of political storms

Grewal, first elected to the House of Commons in 1997, announced in November 2005 he would not seek re-election in the Newton-North Delta riding. His wife, Nina, still represents the neighbouring Surrey riding of Fleetwood-Port Kells.

Grewal said Wednesday he's relieved to be cleared of the accusation that he pocketed donations.

"I'm proud of the fact that the system has recognized that I have not done anything wrong, and I have been cleared from every single investigation that was launched against me," he said.

"It was a political vendetta against me because I blew the whistle [on the Liberals]," he said, referring to secret tape recordings he made of conversations he had with prominent Liberals.

Before the donation scandal surfaced, Grewal was at the centre of another political storm after admitting recording his conversations with Liberals about crossing the floor, in which he said they offered rewards if he and his wife would side with the Liberals on a budget vote.

The Liberals confirmed the meeting but denied offering the couple any inducements, claiming it was Grewal who'd approached them.

An investigation by Bernard Shapiro, the federal ethics commissioner at the time, cleared the Liberals and instead criticized Grewal for "entirely inappropriate" conduct.

The RCMP briefly looked into the affair but did not launch a full investigation.

With files from The Canadian Press