HAMILTON, Bermuda, Wednesday March 15, 2017 – Fresh challenges are looming for former Bermuda Premier Ewart Brown who has been dogged by corruption allegations.
A Commission of Inquiry investigating issues raised in the Auditor-General’s report into fiscal years 2009 to 2012 when Brown’s Progressive Labour Party (PLP) was in power, said it had found “possible criminal activity” in five contracts linked to him.
And in a step further, the commissioners have referred the contracts to police for investigation.
The commissioners expressed concern about Brown’s involvement in the contracts, which they noted often involved friends and relatives.
They also pointed out that some of the agreements should not have been under the former Premier’s portfolio.
According to the Royal Bermuda Gazette, at issue is a $14 million advertising contract, awarded in 2009 to GlobalHue, a company run by Brown’s friend Don Coleman. The Commission said money would have been saved if the contract was tendered.
Ambling Consultancy Firm has also come under the microscope. It was hired for $3.2 million in 2008 and 2010 to provide consultancy services for planning, engineering and hotels. The Commission said there are no coherent records of any services they performed.
The Commission also pointed to the vehicles safety and emissions testing programme, given to Bermuda Emissions Control Ltd (BECL) as Brown’s personal choice between 2005 and 2009. The former premier’s cousin, Donal Smith, was marketing director for BECL. Dennis Correia, a close friend of Brown, was also a director and shareholder in both BECL and Correia Construction.
Other questionable contracts included the Port Royal Golf Course, initially valued at $7.7 million but ended up costing an extra $17.8 million between 2007 and 2009; and the Heritage Wharf cruise ship pier development carried out by Correia Construction, which cost $60 million — $21 million more than the original contract signed in 2007.
Last November, when Brown appeared before the Commission of Inquiry, he declined to give evidence, claiming privilege against self-incrimination as police investigations continue.
Brown has been the subject of police investigations into claims of corruption for nearly six years. A civil lawsuit filed by the Bermuda Government against the Lahey Clinic accuses him of ordering excessive and unnecessary diagnostic tests via his local medical practices.
He has dismissed the allegations as politically and racially motivated.