At the helm: Michael Dunkley was announced as interim Premier, but was heading to Government House to be sworn in formally as Premier as this was being written. Also seen here amid tonight's media scrum are ministers Shawn Crockwell and Mark Pettingill.  *Photo by Glenn Tucker
At the helm: Michael Dunkley was announced as interim Premier, but was heading to Government House to be sworn in formally as Premier as this was being written. Also seen here amid tonight's media scrum are ministers Shawn Crockwell and Mark Pettingill. *Photo by Glenn Tucker

One Bermuda Alliance leader Craig Cannonier dramatically resigned as Premier on Monday night.

Mr Cannonier said in a statement: "Nothing illegal was done, but I accept there was a failure over time to be completely transparent. This is a fundamental component of good governance and a core principle upon which the One Bermuda Alliance was founded."

Governor George Fergusson said: “The Premier, the Hon. L. Craig Cannonier, JP, MP, called on me this evening and tendered his resignation as Premier, which I have accepted. I have asked the Deputy Premier, the Hon. Michael H. Dunkley, JP, MP, to carry out the role of Acting Premier on an interim basis.

Premier Cannonier said: "As a result, and after days of close counsel with my colleagues and family, I have decided to resign my position as Premier of Bermuda, and have advised the Governor of my decision.

"I want you to know that everything I have done in my public life was done solely with the intention of moving Bermuda forward as rapidly as possible. I want success for our country and your Government, and am very disappointed with the ways things have turned out.

"In saying that, I want to make one thing completely clear: No Cabinet colleagues have done anything wrong in this or any other matter.

"As the leader, I accept responsibility."

Mr Cannonier added: "It has been a  privilege to be your Premier."

He also asked the country to rally around Michael Dunkley. 
 
Acting Premier Michael Dunkley this evening confirmed that had taken the reins of Government describing it as a "bitter sweet" moment.

Mr Dunkley confirmed that the Cabinet and the Senate will remain the same.

Mr Cannonier's resignation  comes after two days of OBA meetings at their headquarters and days of intense speculation over his leadership of the country after a string of new revelations surrounding the JetGate saga and his dealings with US businessman Nathan Landow.

The news emerged this evening as the Cabinet building became a hub of activity. Police officers looked on as OBA MPs descended upon the Cabinet office. The doors were locked and only unlocked for officials entering the building.

 The resignation comes after the Bermuda Sun revealed on Friday that American Nathan Landow admitted that he, along with a group of half-a-dozen real estate developers, builders and entrepreneurs from the greater Washington D.C. area, gave about $300,000 in total to help the OBA’s election campaign in the run-up to the 2012 election. Mr Landow told us there were seven political donors who contributed in the range of $40,000 to $50,000 each. He did not identify the other

Mr Landow said the political contributions were made after an OBA political consultant solicited him for the donations through a Maryland-based lobbyist. After that solicitation, Mr Cannonier flew to the US to meet with Mr Landow and made a pro-jobs, pro-investment pitch, Mr Landow told us.

The money was not wired directly to the OBA campaign, he said. It was wired to a group called the Bermuda Political Action Club. It’s unclear who is behind that organization or how the money was spent.

“We were told that it was campaign contributions and it was what you might say an underground campaign for getting out the vote, getting people to the polls,” Mr Landow said. “… We had absolutely no knowledge of anything or where the money was going to go other than it was campaign contributions and this was some sort of underground campaign.”

Last Monday, OBA Chairman Thad Hollis announced his party never received any political contributions from Mr Landow. He said the party would launch an internal investigation into the matter.

Friday night ZBM news reported that the Bermuda Political Action Club had an account at Butterfield Bank and named two signatories —an OBA consultant a business associate of Craig Cannonier’s.

Additional reporting by Danny McDonald, Don Burgess