WEDNESDAY, NOV. 14: PLP Deputy Leader Derrick Burgess recently issued a statement in response to the two reports on alleged misuse of public funds at the BLDC.

Mr Burgess ends his statement with: “On closing, it is my contention that the writing of the report is nothing more than a political ploy to score points and to denigrate me and the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party.” 

In the very opening paragraph of the document, Mr Burgess makes reference to a statement in the PAC Report which reads: “In testimony before the Committee, both the Chairman and Deputy repeatedly claimed that they have been given a directive (or directives) to carry out this consultancy arrangement by the Minister of Public Works (the Minister).” 

And at the end of the same paragraph, Mr  Burgess writes: “I assert that I asked the Chairman and Deputy Chairman to investigate and to carry out a review of the finances and overall management of the BLDC. However, at no time did I suggest that these two members of the Board should act as consultants.”

What seems incredibly bizarre is that at no point does Mr Burgess seek to explain why such a contradictory statement exists in the PAC report in the first place.

If Mr Burgess is right, then doesn’t the report have to be incorrect? And if so, why is it incorrect?

Is it because the Chairman and Deputy misled the Committee?

Is the Committee misleading the public about what the Chairman and Deputy Chairman actually said? Mr Burgess makes no attempt to provide answers, and to me this speaks volumes.

Even more mind-boggling is that while Mr Burgess presents a defence of sorts for the consultancy arrangement, next to nothing is offered to defend or clarify the other major issues in the PAC report, such as:

The Painting Contract

“During the conduct of our deliberations, it was also revealed that the Company had engaged and signed a painting contract (valued at $24,897.50) with an assigned contractor.  The Deputy Chairman instructed the CEO to terminate that contract, and give the contract to a company operated by the son of the Chairman. The CEO refused, on principle, but he was overruled and the switch was consummated.”

The Code of Conduct

(C) 1. The Company set out a Code of Conduct in 2002 which clearly stated: “Directors and Employees must avoid conflicts of interest between their private financial activities and the conduct of BLDC business”.  However this code was amended in January 2008 and instead of referring to Directors and Employees the term “members” was used.

(C) 2. The Code was subsequently updated again in 2010/11 to once more specify ‘Directors’, after the matter was reported by the external accounting firm.

The CFO Position

(D) 2 “The CFO position had been vacant for three years and testimony was given to the Committee that the Minister had refused on more than one occasion to allow the Company to retain a full time CFO even though that position had long been provided for in the Company budget.”

(D) 3. “The CEO testified that he requested that the Company fill the vacant CFO position multiple times but was refused by the Minister, although he claimed such a move had the support of the other shareholder, the Minister of Finance”

Consulting Qualifications

(D) 5. “Having determined the backgrounds of both the Chairman and the Deputy, via their own testimony, it does not appear that either separately or together would have qualified as management consultants for an undertaking of this nature.  While both had considerable real world experience in their respective fields, neither had any experience in analysis or reporting on management structures and solutions.  Moreover, the rates they charged the Company were comparable to consulting management professionals, which they were not.”

 

Not only does Mr Burgess ignore these other issues, he also doesn’t speak to the fact that the PAC report is signed by PLP MP Terry Lister!

If it’s all a ploy, then was Terry Lister somehow duped into signing the report or is he part of the conspiracy to denigrate the PLP?

And what about the action taken by the Premier as stated in the Auditor’s Report? Was the Premier duped by the Auditor, or was she also in on the plan to denigrate Burgess and the PLP? :

“On April 1, 2011, the Premier changed the delegated responsibility for the Bermuda Land Development Company Limited from the Minister of Public Works to the Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy. On May 12, 2011, at a Special Meeting of the Company, the Board was disbanded and a new Board established.

“The Premier/Minister of Finance is to be commended for taking prompt action in these matters once brought to her attention by the Auditor General. However, despite the current Board’s reported action to recover the consultancy fees, at the date of this report the amount remains unpaid. Equally disturbing is the fact that no one has been held accountable for these breaches.”

If you are looking to make sense of all of this, my recommendation to you is to just give up trying, because in spite of all of the above, the Premier continues to fully support Mr Burgess and has fully endorsed the BLDC’s ex Deputy for the next election. Ploy? What ploy?

Based on the Premier’s actions above, taxpayers are still short $160,000. It seems to me that we are the ones being duped.

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