Hosts: then-Premier Craig Cannonier and US businessman Nathan Landow. *Photo montage by Gary Foster Skelton
Hosts: then-Premier Craig Cannonier and US businessman Nathan Landow. *Photo montage by Gary Foster Skelton

I regret boarding that private jet because of the perception it created.”

This from Steven DeCosta on his decision to join former Premier Craig Cannonier, Mark Pettingill and Shawn Crockwell on board a private plane to visit US businessman Nathan Landow and his associates.

Speaking publicly for the first time about what has become known as ‘JetGate’, Mr DeCosta maintained neither he nor other parties on the plane had done anything wrong by meeting with Mr Landow.

And he stressed there had never been any ‘quid pro quo’ arrangement.

Asked if he regretted taking the trip, Mr DeCosta said: “Absolutely, I would not do it again — because of the perception, not because we did anything wrong.

“The intent of everyone involved was in the best interests of Bermuda and trying to bring an investor into Bermuda — there was no quid pro quo.

“Crockwell was 100 per cent professional. The AG was 100 per cent professional.

“It was very formal and it was about them asking questions about Bermuda.

“These guys were trying to bring jobs to the table.

“If we had all gone on a commercial airliner he [Craig Cannonier] would probably still be the Premier. That’s the reality of it.”

Mr DeCosta said that at the time — the trip was made on March 20, 2013 — he did not see anything wrong with him going on the plane as he was also working for Mr Landow in a private capacity as a Bermuda golf consultant. 

And he told the Sun that Mr Landow had himself urged him to take the empty seat that was available on the jet.

Mr DeCosta added “At that time I’m working for Nate Landow — he owned the plane. I’m not breaking any ministerial codes of conduct or not doing anything shady, so for me I did not see a problem.

“I still don’t think there is anything controversial about this trip.

“Craig did not do anything wrong.”

Mr DeCosta confirmed that he and Mr Cannonier had previously met Mr Landow and his associates in September 2012 — a few months before the election — while in the US on business related to the gas stations they run.

He said that initial meeting went extremely well and “they loved Craig”.

Mr DeCosta said they hoped the group would make a donation to fund the grassroots election campaign, although no promises were made.

He said: “We flew out there to Washington — these guys wanted to know about Bermuda and Craig’s ideas and his vision if he won the election.

“I remember in that meeting someone on their side asked if this was a quid pro quo and it was absolutely determined that it was not.

“I did not say a word in that [first] meeting because who was I? I was nobody.”

Asked if the premise of the first meeting was that Mr Landow was interested in casinos in Bermuda, Mr DeCosta replied: “Not at all.

“We did not even know we were going to see Nathan Landow — we just knew we were going to see some guys in Maryland interested in making a campaign contribution who were interested in Bermuda.”

When asked if he got the impression that Mr Landow and his associates were interested in doing business in Bermuda in the future, he said: “I would think so, if you are asking my opinion.

“But I completely could not understand the concept of: we are flying to where? and to who? And they are going to give us what?

“Derrick and I just believed we need substantial funds to run a grassroots campaign.” 

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