Vancouver real estate developer’s multi-million-dollar fraud case appears finally to be coming to trial

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FILE: Real estate developer Tarsem Gill arrives at the courthouse to attend court to face charges of defrauding investors of about $10 million in 2009. Ward Perrin/PNG

KEITH FRASER
VANCOUVER DESI

The case of accused real estate fraudster Tarsem Singh Gill has dragged on so long that the lead Crown counsel is retiring and will not be prosecuting him when he goes to trial in January, his sixth trial date.

The former Vancouver real estate developer, who has gone through five lawyers since the charges were laid against him in 2008 in connection with a multi-million-dollar fraud, was being prosecuted by Kevin Gillett, but Gillett is retiring in June.

Jim Bird, an experienced prosecutor who was assisting Gillett, will continue on the file along with another veteran Crown, Shelley Hulko.

Gill, who applied for and was granted permission to withdraw his guilty plea in February, had earlier re-elected to be tried by judge alone.

But he now is expected to apply to re-elect to be tried by jury when the 12-week trial commences in early 2015.

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Gill, who is on bail, made a short appearance in court Tuesday as the lawyers discussed pre-trial applications expected to get under way in September.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Terence Schultes, the trial judge, said that a lawyer previously appointed to assist the court will continue in that capacity because he didn’t want the case to “drag on” and find that no one was available to represent Gill.

He said he was “very optimistic” that Victoria lawyer Kevin McCullough, Gill’s latest counsel, will be representing the accused at trial.

“But if the nightmare scenario occurred, I do want Mr. Gill to have some assistance and the court to have some assistance.”

The charges were laid against Gill following a six-year police investigation into a fraudulent scheme involving dozens of home purchases.

Gill’s co-accused, former lawyer Martin Wirick, pleaded guilty in June 2009 and received a seven-year jail term. He was also disbarred.

The scam involved the biggest legal fraud in Canadian history. During Wirick’s sentencing, court heard that Wirick acted as Gill’s solicitor and that from 1999 to 2002 misdirected money from Gill-related real estate transactions.

Instead of paying off mortgages and liens on properties that unsuspecting people thought they were buying, Wirick funnelled the money to Gill or his numbered companies. The mortgages on the homes remained. The owners of 77 properties were affected.

kfraser@theprovince.com

twitter.com/keithrfraser

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