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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
Benefit of website linkage to Bermuda Online while traveling
See at end of this file all our many History files
Bermuda's Royal Gazette newspaper is not published on Sundays or Public Holidays.
January 31. The Budget will focus on sparking economic growth in Bermuda, the Premier said last night. David Burt, also Minister of Finance, told an audience at St Paul Centennial Hall that any tax increases in the looming Budget would be “small and targeted”. He said: “If you’re trying to grow the economy, then of course increasing the taxes is not the best way. When we look at the revenue things that are there, they are small, they are targeted. They are not wide-scale like an entire raise of payroll tax across the board, which would affect everyone and arguably depress employment further. As far as building growth, there are a number of things you will hear from the Budget statement itself, but that is where the entirety of the Budget will be focused.” The comments came during a public meeting on the Pre-Budget Report, with about 100 people attending, despite the wet weather. Mr Burt said the Bermuda economy was stable. He added: “It’s not a good thing. It is not growing as fast as it needs to grow, it’s not doing as well as it needs to. That is our challenge.” The Premier said he had received criticism that the Progressive Labour Party would follow the path set by the One Bermuda Alliance. But he added that they were not elected to follow the same policies. Mr Burt said: “I cannot have a Budget that just does the same thing. We have to have investments, which are required for growth, which is why we have to invest in education, in training, in making sure we market Bermuda overseas and making sure we put more resources into the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.” He defended the decision to relax the 60:40 rule, which limits foreign ownership of most Bermudian businesses, arguing that it would help increase competition. The Premier said: “People say we can’t allow foreigners into Bermuda to start competing against local entities, and that is a fair and valid point. But by and large, the 60:40 rule was not put in place to protect small business. It was put in place to protect the oligarchy. It was put in place so capital would not come in to make the industries more competitive. When you have a space where there is a high cost of living, when you have a space when there is not a lot of competition, you need to make changes possible and provide additional competition into your economy, additional capital into your economy that may be able to increase competition.” Mr Burt said the Government wanted to put its money where it would have the greatest impact. He added: “We believe that the greatest impact is in investments, we believe it is in education, in retraining and making sure we are taking care of the most vulnerable.”
January 31. Transport Minister Walter Roban has reiterated that roadside breath tests are a priority for the Government. “The idea of deploying roadside sobriety testing has been something discussed for many years,” he added. “It has taken much too long to put in place and the Government has made it an objective as one of the tools that we are going to use to influence the behavior of persons on the roads. We know from the data that the majority of deaths are attributable to some involvement of substances that have influenced the behavior of a person on the roads so we have got to go directly at that. Observing what is happening in other jurisdictions can make some difference. There are other things that have to happen but this is one of the key initiatives that we are going to make sure we get in place as soon as possible. We want to make sure it is in place this legislative year.” Australia has one of the best road safety records in the world. Random breath testing started in 1982 in New South Wales and fatal crashes involving alcohol dropped from about 40 per cent of all fatalities to 15 per cent in 2012. The police in NSW can test drivers for impairment without cause. But Bermuda police officers still need a reason to pull over a driver — so a road user has to exhibit potentially dangerous behavior such as swerving across the centre line or ignoring traffic signs. Mr Roban has not said whether Bermuda’s road testing system will include non-selective testing, which would reduce the risk of profiling. It is also unknown whether sobriety checkpoint locations would be announced in advance. Mr Roban said: “It’s important to make sure that it’s done correctly due to the sensitivities around it. Those details are being discussed and worked on. Right now the police can stop anyone at any time for any issue that they feel raises suspicion. They can stop you to check your licence or if there is some safety issue with your car. They already have general power to stop persons. Whatever is done, we want the people to understand that this is to stop people from dying. It’s not to interfere or make it inconvenient for people to move around and enjoy themselves. It is only being done to stop the high level of deaths and collisions that we are experiencing.” Only two police doctors are authorized to take blood samples from suspected impaired drivers, although 15 doctors are trained to do it. And there are legal problems around taking blood from an unconscious hospital patient without their consent. Mr Roban said: “We will advance that as we advance the roadside sobriety testing regime. That piece about having more people available to take blood samples will be advanced. I’m not sure whether that is just an issue for my ministry. It may be under national security and it may come under health. But I agree that needs to be advanced.”
January 31. The island’s bus cancellations are the result of an ageing fleet rather than a standoff over schedules, Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert said yesterday. Mr Furbert was speaking after Michael Fahy, a former One Bermuda Alliance transport minister, said that unionized staff had turned down new schedules because a more efficient roster entailed “a massive reduction in driver overtime”. Bus cancellations have been a near-daily occurrence in recent months. Mr Furbert said that “90 per cent of the problem” was the bus fleet. He added: “I’m not saying that Mr Fahy is not partially right but his suggestions about creating new rosters eliminating all the problems are incorrect — it might eliminate 10 per cent.” Mr Furbert said that he was “not bashing the OBA” and that the Progressive Labour Party also had to bear responsibility. He added: “Here’s the real reason why we have so many cancelled buses. When you look at the 17-year period of 2001 to 2017, you see that from 2001 to 2009 the country purchased 91 buses. However, in the last eight years from 2010 through 2017, we purchased 14.” Figures provided by the union showed 14 vehicles bought in 2014 under the OBA government, with none bought in the other years between 2010 to 2017. New buses had been bought every year under the PLP during the nine previous years. The first of four new buses on order arrived last month. Mr Fahy wrote in The Royal Gazette yesterday that as of April last year the OBA government had reached an “impasse” on an agreement for a new schedule, with arbitration the only route left. With bus cancellations affecting school routes, a government spokeswoman last March highlighted the work roster of drivers as “a contributor to the disruption”. She added that 12 years of discussions had failed to produce an agreement with unionized workers. Mr Fahy said BIU leaders had shown “willingness to enter arbitration”, but the government at the time had feared “yet another island-wide bus shutdown if the result did not go a certain way”. He added: “With the America’s Cup looming and a bus service shutting down repeatedly on a whim, a decision was made to leave arbitration until after the America’s Cup. Eight months have since passed and buses continue to be cancelled at an alarming rate and the Government has been suspiciously quiet.” Mr Furbert said: “That’s not accurate. For him to imply the only reason was because the workers were going to down tools is nonsense.” He said the BIU was on the record saying that it backed seven-hour shifts that would keep bus operators on 35 hours a week. Mr Furbert did not rule out arbitration as a means to reach a solution. He added that there was no requirement to draw up a new proposed schedule. Mr Furbert said: “They don’t need to. They can take the one that was rejected and let the minister refer it to arbitration.”
January 31. A Welsh accountant has pleaded guilty to laundering almost $1.8 million stolen from the Bermuda Government. Jeffrey Bevan, 50, from Cwmbran, admitted transferring the money into his own bank account, using it to buy homes, a Mercedes car and fund his gambling habit. Bevan pleaded guilty to three counts of transferring criminal property and ten charges of converting criminal property during an appearance in Cardiff Crown Court. Two men from Leicester — Joel Ishmael, 42, and Paul Charity, 52 — remain on trial, accused of working with Bevan to launder the money. Mr Charity has also denied a charge of perverting the course of justice. Their trial is expected to last another week, a report on Wales Online said yesterday. Bevan worked in the Bermuda Accountant-General’s office for nearly three years before leaving the island to return to Wales. Prosecutors alleged that he made 52 payments totaling nearly $2.5 million into his own personal account over that time. He later transferred about $1.8 million — which Bevan accepted was criminal property — to his account in the UK. An investigation launched after Bevan left Bermuda revealed the series of bogus payments. These included a $71,000 transfer that appeared to have gone to a care home and another of $89,000 in the name of management services consulting firm Chevron International. But prosecutor Timothy Evans told the court the investigation revealed that the payments had gone into Mr Bevan’s HSBC account in Bermuda. Bevan at first claimed he had earned the money through overtime and that he had worked up to 50 hours extra a week. Mr Evans said Bevan “gambled away” some of the cash and used £140,000 to pay off the mortgage on his family home. The court also heard Bevan spent about £700,000 on cars, houses and flats, including properties in Newport, Glasgow and Nottingham.
January 31. More than 100 actors took part in an emergency exercise simulation at L.F. Wade International Airport last night. The two-hour exercise involved the simulation of an oil spill when an airline diverted to the island with a medical emergency. Actors played the role of passengers on board a JetBlue aircraft, to test the response of the Emergency Communication Centre consisting of Skyport, Bermuda Fire and Rescue, police and airline representatives. Today, Skyport reported that all passengers disembarked the aircraft with a few minor simulated injuries. It said all airport agencies and emergency services responded promptly, and BFRS simulated preventing the oil spill from turning into a fire. Aaron Adderley, president of Skyport, said: “It’s important for us to conduct these exercises not only as part of our international regulatory requirements, but also to ensure our emergency response capabilities are up to par. We must be able to respond effectively in the event of an emergency. We would like to thank everyone who participated and the public for their co-operation.”
January 31. Patients concerned about the closure of a high-tech computerized X-ray service at the Brown-Darrell Clinic have been invited to a meeting tomorrow. Dr. Ewart Brown, the former premier and owner of the Bermuda Healthcare Services in Smith’s, will answer questions at St Paul Centennial Hall from 5.30pm. Dr Brown said this month that fee cuts imposed by the Ministry of Health had forced him to close the CT scanner service at the clinic. He claimed the Bermuda Health Council, which had recommended that fees be cut, had a vendetta against him. News of the meeting came as Dr Brown waits to find out if the US-based Lahey Clinic will be successful in its bid to have a lawsuit connected to his private ventures thrown out of a Boston court today. The action against Lahey, launched by the One Bermuda Alliance government last February, named Dr Brown as a co-conspirator and said he conducted “excessive, medically unnecessary and frankly dangerous scans” at his two clinics for his own enrichment, while giving Lahey a cut of the fees from insurers. Dr Brown and Lahey deny the allegations. David Burt, the Premier, was among a string of Progressive Labour Party MPs to sign a legal brief last May drawn up by Dr Brown in support of Lahey’s motion to have the case dismissed. However, the PLP government, which was elected last summer, has chosen to pursue the lawsuit.
January 31. A 55-year-old woman who killed a young man after she crashed into the back of his motorbike was jailed yesterday for three months. Margaret DeSilva accidentally pushed down on the accelerator at the same time as the brake pedal after hitting Jokeem Richardson from behind and crushed him against the back of a truck. DeSilva apologized to Mr Richardson’s family seated in the public gallery of the Supreme Court before she was sentenced and banned from driving for five years by Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe. Mr Justice Wolffe said the standard of driving on the island’s roads was “horrendous” but that DeSilva’s driving was at the lower end of the culpability range. But he added that despite her guilty plea, remorse and lack of previous convictions he found no reason to suspend the prison sentence. Mr Justice Wolffe said: “A message must be sent to all road users that there are consequences for their bad driving.” The court heard that Mr Richardson had been driving behind a flatbed truck on Blue Hole Hill in Hamilton Parish on the afternoon of May 10 last year, with DeSilva behind him in her car. Prosecutor Nicole Smith explained that the truck stopped close to the entrance to Grotto Bay. She said: “The defendant collided with the rear of the bike and pushed it into the rear of the flatbed truck. The driver of the truck and his passenger heard and felt the sudden jolt causing them to be pushed forward. The defendant’s car continued rolling forward slowly compressing the bike into the rear of the truck.” Ms Smith described how DeSilva became hysterical after the collision and had to be removed from the driver’s seat so her car could be driven backwards to release Mr Richardson. The 23-year-old was rushed to hospital where he died from his injuries. DeSilva was arrested and when interviewed immediately admitted: “It was my fault, I did not mean it.” Victim impact statements from Mr Richardson’s family were read to the court which said he was a “a real character with a feisty spirit” as well as a “joker”. His mother, Kareen Richardson, said her son’s death was avoidable. She added: “We are struggling to come to terms with his death. We are just taking one day at a time. It’s a very painful process. There is not a day goes by when I don’t think about Jokeem. There is a void in our family. This is pure hell for a mother and absolutely nothing can bring him back.” Yesterday at court, DeSilva, who had pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at an earlier hearing, apologized for her actions. She told Mr Richardson’s family: “I want to send my condolences to the family. I am really, really sorry for what has happened. I cannot bring him back but I wish I could do something for them. It was an accident.” DeSilva’s lawyer, Richard Horseman, acknowledged that Mr Richardson bore no responsibility for the accident, but he pointed out that his client had been driving very slowly just prior to the accident and maintained: “It was a mistake.” He added: “She has pressed the accelerator at the same time as the brake. Had she just hit the brake Mr Richardson would still be here. It was a tragic accident.” Ms Smith said that yesterday’s sentencing came just a day after The Royal Gazette launched its Drive for Change campaign to try and get motorists to change their bad habits in Bermuda. “This campaign is The Royal Gazette speaking to every member of society to have regard for our community and other road users because death is too frequently the result of not considering your neighbour. In ten years there have been 118 road deaths. It indicates the prevalence of this kind of offence in Bermuda.”
January 31. The Bermuda Police Service issued 18 tickets and chased down a motorbike rider with a child pillion passenger in the wake of the launch of The Royal Gazette’s Drive for Change campaign. Inspector Robert Cardwell said officers from the Roads Policing Unit were out in force on Monday morning to support the campaign. Drive for Change has joined forces with road safety group A Piece of the Rock to promote road safety and cut the horrific toll of death and injury on the roads. Mr Cardwell said officers issued eight tickets for driving without due care and attention and four for failure to obey a stop sign at the junction of Stowe Hill and Harbour Road in Paget. They also booked a motorist for driving an unlicensed and uninsured vehicle and issued several parking tickets around Hamilton. Mr Cardwell said: “One guy took us on a chase from Pomander Road, through Berry Hill up Tee Street, along Middle Road and he was caused to stop near Vesey Street. He had a schoolgirl on the back of the bike and his claim to us for not stopping was that he did not feel like it because she was late for school. He got a bunch of tickets and we seized his bike for an engine inspection.”
January 31. People are being warned about fraudsters posing as Bermuda Government officials attempting to get sensitive information through phone calls and e-mails. The Organized and Economic Crime Department has received reports from residents of telephone calls from people claiming to represent Microsoft Windows. According to the Bermuda Police Service, the unknown callers are from overseas but say they represent the Bermuda Government. Police said in a statement: “The intent of the unknown callers is to convince contacted persons to provide remote access to their computer, using the excuse that the computer has some type of problem, which the caller states they will fix. Once remote access is granted, the unknown caller asks the resident to logon to their electronic banking, where funds are eventually stolen. In the event the unknown caller’s computer access request is challenged or refused, the fraudster is known to make threats — including suggesting that the contacted person could be sent to jail for not co-operating. It is strongly recommended that such unsolicited phone calls and e-mails be ignored.” Residents are further reminded that personal information, including access details of their home computer, should never be relayed over the internet or phone to unknown people. Any incidents of suspected internet fraud should be reported to the Financial Crime Unit on 247-1757 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 30. A decision by Britain to overrule Bermuda’s attempt to ditch same-sex marriage would be “an exceptional step”, the House of Commons in London heard last night. Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, said the UK was “disappointed” by the island Parliament’s decision to backtrack on marriage equality. He added that a number of UK Overseas Territories had moved to introduce same-sex marriage, but that Britain had no plans to impose it on its overseas territories. Sir Alan was speaking during a House of Commons adjournment debate on Bermuda’s 2017 Domestic Partnership Act, which was passed last month. The legislation is designed to replace same-sex marriage with watered-down civil partnerships. But Sir Alan, the first openly gay Conservative MP in the House of Commons, said the UK would consider the implications of the proposed Bermuda law “very carefully”. The debate was scheduled after opposition Labour MP Chris Bryant called on Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, to weigh in on the issue. Mr Bryant said Bermuda’s legislature had been in effect “begging the Foreign Secretary to allow it to cancel same-sex marriage”. Last night, Mr Bryant appealed to David Burt, the Premier, and Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, to withdraw the legislation. The former Overseas Territories Minister, who entered into a civil partnership in 2010, said: “Bermuda and the Premier of Bermuda — I hope you change your mind. I hope Bermuda changes its mind, and I hope the Government does not sign this Bill into law.” Mr Bryant branded the Domestic Partnerships Act “a deeply unpleasant and cynical piece of legislation” that might appear “the same as civil partnerships in this country — but it is not”. He added: “I have never seen a piece of legislation that so clearly declares, from the outset, that it is inconsistent with all the other laws in the land, including the Human Rights Act and the Constitution.” He compared discrimination against gay people to the view “over two centuries or more” that slavery was part of the natural order. Mr Bryant said that John Rankin, the Governor, was “entirely within his rights” to delay signing the Bill into law or to refuse Royal Assent. He admitted that he had been told to “butt out” in some of the messages he had received, But Mr Bryant said he disagreed because the legislation “impinges on how Britain is viewed around the world”. He told the House of Commons that the Bill would also affect cruise ships registered on the island. Mr Bryant said that cruise line Cunard, which had advertised gay weddings after a Bermuda Supreme Court decision last year paved the way for gay marriage, now feared it would lose the ability to perform the ceremonies. Same-sex marriage is legal in England, Wales and Scotland but not in Northern Ireland, where the hardline Democratic Unionist Party blocked it, despite a majority in favour in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Mr Bryant said that “this Government, here in Westminster, needs to look hard at Northern Ireland, and implement equality”. Sir Alan did not give any indication on what Mr Rankin would do about the Bill. If Mr Rankin approves the domestic partnership law same-sex marriages will be outlawed, although those that have taken place so far would remain valid. Mr Rankin has taken legal advice on the legislation and its constitutional implications and is still considering his decision. Mr Bryant told UK MPs there had been eight same-sex marriages since the Supreme Court ruling and another four banns published. Sir Alan did not signal UK support for the Domestic Partnership Act, but said it represented “progress in comparison to the situation just a year ago”.
January 30. Bermuda’s population dropped by 458 over four years to 63,779, the 2016 Census figures reveal. The statistics in the preliminary report released yesterday also recorded a surge in the number of homeless people — up from 82 in 2010 to 138, a 68 per cent rise. The report also showed a significant drop in residents in both Hamilton and St George’s. The population of St George’s fell over the four-year period from 1,801 in 2010 to 1,298 in 2016, a 28 per cent drop. Hamilton recorded a decline of 17 per cent, from 1,032 people in 2010 to 854 people in 2016. The number of non-Bermudian residents went up by just 62 over the four years to 2016, from 13,516 to 13,578. The number of permanent resident’s certificate holders fell by only two, down from 1,881 to 1,879. There was a slight increase in the number of non-Bermudian spouses of Bermudians, up from 2,112 to 2,186. The number of emigrants counted increased, while immigration declined, but data was incomplete for both the 2010 and 2016 Census. The report explained both counts had been “unable to capture situations where entire households left the island, as there was no one to provide this information”. Other notable figures included an increase in the ratio of men to women from 92 to 93 males per 100 females. The median age climbed from 41 in 2010 to 44 in 2016. Academic qualifications went up by several percentage points for high school certificates, vocational certifications and associate’s degrees and degrees. At the same time, the figures for residents with no formal educational certificates fell from 11,815 in 2010 to 7,296 in 2016. Unemployment remained steady at 7 per cent. The number of dwelling units increased to 28,192, up from 26,923 in 2010, and the average household size declined, from 2.39 to 2.26 people per household. The report, compiled by the Department of Statistics, is available at gov.bm/bermuda-census.
January 30. A Canadian airline passenger was fined $1,000 yesterday after he admitted drunken and disruptive behavior that forced his flight to divert to Bermuda. Magistrates’ Court heard Joseph Matrundola, 60, demanded alcohol, shouted and swore and had to be restrained on the floor by other passengers on the flight last Friday night. The pilot of the Air Transat flight, en route from Montreal to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, diverted to Bermuda where Matrundola was arrested. The court heard that Matrundola’s wife told cabin crew that he had taken prescription pills before the flight. Matrundola later admitted he had also had seven double-strength drinks before boarding. He told magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo: “I beg the court’s forgiveness.” He added: “I’m so sorry for what happened.” Matrundola said that he was taking pills for depression caused by the loss of his job. He added: “I didn’t mean to do this. It was a big mistake.” A total of 164 passengers and crew were on board the flight. Mr Tokunbo fined Matrundola $500 for acting in a disruptive behavior aboard an aircraft and $500 for being drunk aboard the plane. He was ordered to pay both fines before he left the island.
January 30. New Zealand have been jettisoned from this year’s 30th anniversary of the World Rugby Classic because of financial constraints. Ireland will instead join defending champions Argentina, Canada, France, Italy, South Africa, the United States, and the Classic Lions, who will now feature players from England, Scotland and Wales. John Kane, the Classic president, revealed that replacing the All Blacks with Ireland will save about $50,000 in airfare and open up new sponsorship and hospitality opportunities. “The Classic has to run a very tight budget in these economic times and, because of the distance, New Zealand is by far the most expensive team to bring to Bermuda,” Kane said. “With the Classic being shown on Sky Sports, primarily in Europe, we have an opportunity to attract financial support from there. We also have a marketing opportunity to attract rugby supporters from the Irish community on the East Coast of the US. The primary reasons are to reduce costs and to attract new supporters.” New Zealand were beaten 15-5 by Argentina in last year’s final at North Field. It will be the first Classic the All Blacks have missed since 2013, when organizers plumped for Australia as they had better sponsorship and the support of the Australian Rugby Union. “New Zealand] are certainly an iconic brand, but this is just a rest,” Irishman Kane said. “Two of the three southern hemisphere teams have sponsorship within their country, or here, which takes part of the airline and hotel costs away from the Classic. A New Zealand team, with airfares and accommodation, costs over $100,000, while Argentina have fares sponsored and South Africa have the hotel sponsored; New Zealand have neither.” Kane added that it was fitting for Ireland to be included in the 30th anniversary of the Classic as they were one of the original five teams at the inaugural event in 1988. Shane Byrne, a familiar face to Bermuda, having played for the Classic Lions at previous competitions, will manage Ireland at the competition, which will run from November 4 to 11. The 46-year-old played 41 times as a hooker for Ireland and made four appearances for the Lions.
January 30. A man is fighting for his life after a fight broke out at the Hamilton bus terminal yesterday. Two men were seen fighting with a rock and a pair of scissors. One man suffered neck and head injuries that police said appeared to be life-threatening. The other is being treated in hospital for head injuries. A terrified eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: “One of the guys’ noses was hanging off. One of the guys’ faces was completely mashed.” The woman said that the fight started near the Church Street end of the terminal at about 11.40am. She was not sure what sparked the confrontation. She said one of the men involved was armed with scissors, but that she did not see a second weapon. The woman added: “One guy was saying ‘you want to mess with me?’” She called police to report the incident. The woman added: “I said ‘please come quick, because there’s a bad, bad fight here’.” She yelled at the men in an attempt to stop the fight as bystanders told her to keep back. Police taped off bays 8 to 11 at the terminal around noon. Spots of blood were visible on the pavement. The woman added: “I feel sick. I’m still shaking. His face is in my mind.” Police have appealed for witnesses to contact CID on 295-0011.
January 30. A generation of “lost boys” need to be saved, senior magistrate Juan Wolffe warned on Friday. Mr Wolffe said abuse of drugs and alcohol by young Bermudians had created a crisis. He added: “The vast majority of male teenagers who find themselves in Magistrates’ Court for committing offences have used or are using alcohol or cannabis, and they have not matriculated past high school. Most disturbingly, there is absolutely no desire in them to cease smoking marijuana and they refuse to see any correlation between their cannabis use and their failure at school or their criminal conduct. What we see is a population of lost boys whose futures look sadly bleak and it will remain that way until they acknowledge that cannabis use has seriously affected them and they must cease and desist the abuse. The stark reality is by the time a young person interacts with the courts, their antisocial behavior has already become deeply ingrained in their lifestyle and their perceptions of the world.” He was speaking as the island’s courts marked the start of the new legal year. Mr Wolffe said a stronger educational campaign and rehabilitative regime needed to be set up to prevent drug and alcohol abuse. He added: “On the surface, Bermuda appears to be a place where visitors and locals alike frolic on pink-colored sand under baby-blue skies. However, the magistrates often see what others deliberately ignore. There also exists a deeply entrenched underbelly, punctuated with violence against our children and elderly, antisocial behavior, rampant dysfunction, alcohol abuse, juvenile delinquency, teen promiscuity and the erosion of our social norms and values. It is not my intention to sound dystopian, but it is crucial that we acknowledge the depth of the problem so that we may implement sustainable solutions.” Mr Wolffe also questioned the effect decriminalization of cannabis would have on the island. But he said: “I have faith that prior to the enactment of this legislation, that there was a comprehensive analysis into whether Bermuda — unique and distinct from other places — should decriminalize cannabis.” Mr Wolffe also said pay and benefits for magistrates and their staff should be brought more in line with other legal professionals. He added: “It’s profoundly concerning that magistrates are still being treated as less than other members of the judiciary and other legal officers in the Civil Service. There is still the need for the Constitution to be amended to bring magistrates fully into the fold, with the same security of tenure that the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court judges enjoy.” He also called for “magistrate” to be replaced with “judge”, as had been done in other jurisdictions. Mr Wolffe said: “Such a change would reflect the nature, quality and volume of work conducted in Magistrates’ Court, give magistrates equal footing with judges and encourage others to consider a career in Magistrates’ Court.”
January 29. The Government will tomorrow host a public meeting to discuss the pre-Budget report. The meeting, to be held at the St Paul Centennial Hall in Hamilton from 6pm, will give the public the chance to quiz David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, and Wayne Furbert, Junior Minister of Finance on the blueprint for the next financial year. A Government spokesman said: “The pre-Budget report provides some insight into Government’s plans for the next fiscal year, which will be expanded in the annual Budget statement which Mr Burt will deliver to the House of Assembly on February 16.” Mr Burt and Mr Furbert held a meeting with officials today to outline the proposed plans and answer questions. The report is available at www.gov.bm. The public can make comments or suggestions by e-mail to email@example.com.
January 29. Government reform minister Lovitta Foggo met union leaders last week to discuss “change management” as part of an attempt to improve public service efficiency. The Government said a strategic plan to provide a “comprehensive road map to achieve more efficient delivery of quality public service” was being prepared. Ms Foggo and the Bermuda Public Services Union discussed the plan at the first of a series of meetings on Thursday. Ms Foggo said on Friday: “As I have stated, our relationship with our union partners will be based on mutual respect, regular communication, proactive policies and teamwork. “Yesterday’s meeting was aimed at discussing change management and agreeing a way forward, as we believe their input and active participation is imperative to the success of innovation in government.” The Government completed negotiations late last year which resulted in collective bargaining agreements with the BPSU and the Fire Services Association. Agreements in principle have been reached with the Bermuda Industrial Union and the Bermuda Union of Teachers.
January 29. Belco has sent a third group of linemen to the British Virgin Islands to help bring power back to the hurricane-battered country. The latest five-man squad from Belco traveled to Tortola in the island group last week after the islands’ power authority asked for more assistance. Craig Brangman, team leader, said: “Our job is to put peoples’ power on and to put smiles on their face when they get their electricity. These people have been without power since September 3. Our job is to make sure we give them back their power.” Mr Brangman said the crew got a warm welcome when they returned to the island. He added: “Everyone that we knew, and the people in the areas where we are working were really happy to see us back and to have us here working. This is what we do and we appreciate giving power back to people who need it. It’s hard work. It’s not easy, but this is what we signed up for. This is what we are blessed to do.” BVI was hammered by Hurricanes Irma and Maria last September. The storms destroyed around 90 per cent of the electricity network. About only 50 per cent of the network was restored by last month and just 45 per cent of customers have power back on. Belco sent crews to help with the restoration effort in the immediate aftermath of the hurricanes and the last returned last month. The latest team left last Monday. The Bermuda crew will work with the BVI Electricity Corporation for six weeks and Belco promised to continue its assistance until electricity is fully restored. Dennis Pimentel, Belco’s vice-president of grid operations, said: “This is critical work for our fellow islanders in BVI, who 3½ months later have yet to return to a sense of normalcy following Hurricane Irma. “It is Belco’s intention to support the restoration of BVI’s electricity infrastructure through to full restoration because it is the right thing to do.”
January 29. Jeff Baron is to speak at an international summit on group violence this week. Mr Baron, the Shadow Minister of National Security, will be taking part in the International Citizen Security Summit in Tijuana, Mexico, on Thursday. He said: “I’m expecting that this will be an incredibly exciting and emotive summit. I’m honored to be invited to speak on a topic that I am very passionate about. Mexico’s group violence — from small criminal networks to highly organized cartels — has been a real challenge for the state and citizen security agencies. I’ve been invited to present on a panel on ‘focused deterrence’, which I believe results in both early wins and long-term violence reduction. I’ve advocated for this throughout my political career and while I was minister this advocacy contributed to officially committing Bermuda to a two-year group violence reduction contract last year.” Mr Baron said he would be involved in a presentation called “focused deterrence and group violence reduction within a political and policymaking context”. The summit was organized by the Mexican Government in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development. Mr Baron added: “In my view, this summit is very timely and topical. My involvement at a community, social, business and risk management level put me in a unique position to share some invaluable insight with the participants of the summit.”
January 29. Opinion. By Nathan Kowalski, Financial Ramblings from the Rock. What follows are my thoughts on the 2018/19 pre-Budget report policy options recently released by the Government, considering a set of first principles. Let’s assume our goals or principles in building a Budget revolve around the following:
Readers, of course, can immediately reject these or have their own opinions on each individually but these are, in my opinion, key principles we, at least, need to consider if we want to be serious about Bermuda’s future success and fulfil the new government’s mandate.
Nathan Kowalski CPA, CA, CFA, CIM is the chief financial officer of Anchor Investment Management Ltd and the views expressed are his own. The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
January 29. A man convicted of a plot to import cannabis to Bermuda using his mother’s name on the package has lost an appeal in the Supreme Court. Tafari Wilson, 36, lodged an appeal against his conviction after trial by magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo in March last year for conspiring to import more than 427 grams of the drug, which was found in a package addressed to his mother. Wilson, of Devonshire, argued on appeal that Mr Tokunbo did not give adequate reasons for his decision and that he failed to direct himself on how to handle circumstantial evidence. Acting Justice Delroy Duncan said in a written judgment last week that magistrates must provide a reasoned decision at the end of a trial. He added he found Mr Tokunbo’s judgment showed he had properly directed himself on the issues of the case. The Acting Justice dismissed the appeal and said: “The evidence demonstrates that the appellant showed a singular and persistent interest to obtain the package with which he now asserts he was evidentially unconnected. “In my view, the evidence adduced at trial does support the rational inference that the appellant knew the imported package contained the controlled drug cannabis.” Mr Justice Duncan ordered Wilson to return to Magistrates’ Court for sentence. Wilson was found guilty in Magistrates’ Court in March last year. He claimed that he had collected the package for his mother and did not know what it contained. Magistrates’ Court heard the package arrived on the island from Canada on November 11, 2015 and contained household items including pillows, which were used to conceal the drugs. The court heard Wilson went to the Air Canada office on November 14 in an attempt to collect the package Wilson paid the fees and gave his own mobile phone number as a contact for the delivery. He collected the package when it was delivered on November 18 and put it in a shed outside his home. Wilson’s mother was off the island when the package was delivered and did not return until December. She told police she knew nothing about the delivery or the shipper. She added that when she placed online orders she had them shipped to a United States address. Shipping documents were found in Wilson’s bedroom in the pocket of a jacket. Mr Tokunbo found Wilson guilty and said he was not a “witness of truth”. He added: “I did not find him to be fully credible about his interest in, and connection with, the package or about why he never told his mother about the arrival of the package for her, in which he had no interest.”
January 29. An emergency exercise simulation will take place at L.F. Wade International Airport tomorrow night. The exercise, at 11pm, is designed to test the airport’s emergency plans, with governmental and non-governmental agencies on hand to participate in the exercise. The aim is to practice and test emergency protocols at the airport in the event of an actual emergency, as well as the readiness of the various agencies involved. Aaron Adderley, president of Skyport, said: “We conduct these exercises every three years as part of our international regulatory requirements and to assess our emergency response capabilities. “It is very important that airport agencies are best prepared in the event of an airport or aircraft emergency. We’re grateful to all those parties participating in the exercise and we thank the public in advance for their co-operation.” The exercise is being held late at night to avoid disrupting airlines and passengers and is not expected to impact the traveling public or the east end community.
January 29. Scores of people today marked the launch of The Royal Gazette’s campaign to tackle Bermuda’s road death epidemic by greeting morning traffic on East Broadway. Students from a host of schools, along with members of the community, stood by the side of the road holding placards, bearing the name of the 118 people killed in road accidents in the past ten years. Bermuda Police Service’s Road Policing Unit and Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service declared their support by taking part in the demonstration. In acknowledgement of Drive for Change, the police team is showing its full presence on the roads this morning. The Royal Gazette has joined forces with A Piece of the Rock to improve road safety in a six-month campaign. We are calling for roadside sobriety testing, speed cameras and a mandatory graduated licensing programme. We are also raising awareness of road safety and encouraging a grass roots, community-wide effort to effect change. For more information, see today’s newspaper and TheRoyalGazette.com.
January 29. Royal Gazette Editorial. "It’s time to slam on the brakes, and take a long, hard look at ourselves. Bermuda’s road safety record is an international embarrassment, with our death and injury rates topping most of the 35 member countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Over the past ten years, we have had 118 road deaths and more than 15,000 injuries on an island of little more than 60,000 — Bermuda truly is another world. The Bermuda Tourism Authority may want to factor this inconvenient truth out of its marketing strategy. It’s not just a flagrant disregard for the rules of the road that is holding us back on this tiny stretch of tarmac; in many cases the rules are either non-existent or easily swerved. People do not drink and drive in most developed countries because the police are out in force with roadside breathalysing; speed junkies are stopped dead in their tracks using run-of-the-mill camera technology and enforcement methods that have been in place for years; and those learning to ride and drive are given the stringent and extensive training intended to give them a proper head start. Why are we lagging so far behind after all these years? For decades, administration after administration has paid lip service to an issue that is killing and crippling our people. It has got to the point where we have a national health crisis on our hands and it must be treated as a matter of urgency. Today The Royal Gazette is launching its six-month Drive for Change campaign to see an end to the carnage that is tearing lives apart. Building on the success of the hard-hitting documentary and road safety campaign A Piece of the Rock, we aim to keep the momentum going and build the pressure on our lawmakers to effect change. We know that the main causes of road-related death and injury are impaired driving, speeding and inadequate driver training. As such, our main objectives are to push for roadside sobriety testing, effective speed-camera technology and a mandatory, graduated licensing programme to properly qualify our riders and drivers for the roads. The new Progressive Labour Party government has a golden opportunity to ride this unprecedented wave of public will and drag us into line with the rest of the OECD. Transport minister Walter Roban has spoken out about his commitment to road safety and has gone as far as to promise implementing roadside sobriety testing by the end of the parliamentary year. Whether that would be non-selective, meaning a police officer can pull over every ten, 15, 20 vehicles — thereby weakening accusations of profiling — remains to be seen. As for the speed cameras, upgrades are said to be in the works to advance the capabilities of the existing CCTV network, but there are significant issues surrounding enforcement, number plate-recognition limitations and speed limits. As for a graduated licensing programme, the Bermuda Road Safety Council presented the last government with a recommendation for a complete graduated programme accompanied by proposed legislation. The on-road training segment is already being taught as a privately funded pilot programme at the Berkeley Institute. It is ready for consideration by Roban, who has the power to have legislation enacted and to have the programme on the books. But there will be little point going through all that effort if the programme is not mandatory. Bermuda is not one to sit quietly when political inaction is left to fester to the detriment of her people. She has a proud history of standing up for what is right. There has been a lot to stand up for in recent years but none for a cause that could prevent large-scale death and crippling injury. A march to eliminate dangerous driving would be a march for life. So we ask you to play your part towards the Drive for Change and instead of cursing at the third-laner who cut you off or the drunk driver who swerved across the centre line, join the movement for roads reform and let your politicians know what you want. Drive for Change is here to equip you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision and to hand you the tools to make it happen. But first of all ask yourself the question: are you doing everything in your immediate power to ensure you are not a hazard to the road users around you?
January 29. The island’s newest soldiers passed out of the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s recruit camp at the weekend. Forty recruits, all volunteers, celebrated on Saturday as they completed a tough two weeks of training. Private Janita Adderley, 30, was named top recruit and Lance Corporal Dijon Arruda was top section commander. Private Adderley, from Sandys, said: “It’s an honour and I was quite surprised when my name was called.” The 30-year-old bartender at the Pickled Onion in Hamilton added that she wanted to join the RBR because she “needed to do something completely different and step out of my comfort zone”. Private Adderley said: “I’ve been surprised with what I’ve been able to do these two weeks.” She added: “It’s not always about coming first. I’m not the greatest runner. I was always the last to come in — but I always came in.” Private Adderley, who wants to join the Regiment’s medics, admitted she was tested to the limit and often felt like she could not go on. But she said: “I helped out other recruits and other team members who felt the same and tried to cheer them along. I hope that’s what the people who gave me the award saw.” Lance Corporal Arruda, 29, a three-year veteran of the RBR, said he was pleased to win after being pipped at the post in last year’s recruit camp. He added: “At the end of the day, it’s not about winning, it’s about producing quality soldiers from scratch.” Lance Corporal Arruda, who works in the purchasing department of the Hamilton Princess in civilian life, said: “It’s in my nature. I care about my country a lot and I want to give Bermudians a better understanding of life. To do that, you need a lot of compassion and to build teamwork. That was my whole point and people would be surprised at how well they gelled.” RBR commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley said the camp included not only Bermudians, but recruits from Britain, Jamaica and Nepal. The youngest recruit was 18, the oldest was 54 and a third were women, while the camp included university graduates and some who had not finished high school. Colonel Curley said the same standards were lived up to by all the new soldiers. He added: “We demand that they uphold our values of selfless commitment, courage, discipline, integrity, loyalty and respect for others. It is these values that unite us when times are hardest, when separated from our families during hurricanes and during deployments and exercises both locally and overseas. But what also unites us is a sense of belonging to an organisation, a family that shares a common purpose, that is open and transparent and that has no place for people who do not share in these values.” Colonel Curley said that retention rates were “at an all time high” as the RBR prepared to enter a period of change. He added that a second Recruit Camp in the summer would be held for the first time and a major strategic review was under way that would change the role of the Regiment from light infantry to a more engineering-based corps. John Rankin, the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the RBR, told the recruits: “As volunteers, you have chosen to serve Bermuda and also to develop your own character and skills that I know will stand you and this country in good stead in the future. You have shown you’ve got what it takes, both individually and as a team.” He added: “You are new members of a vital part of this island’s security. You will play your role in providing support for major events on the island, helping and serving this community.” David Burt, the Premier, on his first visit as the country’s leader to recruit camp, told the recruits that he had read that “the heart of a volunteer is not measured by size, but by the depth of commitment to make a difference to others. You have all done very well and we celebrate you today.” Mr Burt said it was “the efforts of the whole unit that brings success” and that “these traits are essential, not only in the Regiment, but also in life.” Two overseas senior non-commissioned officers, one from Britain and one from Canada, assisted with the training effort during recruit camp. Sergeant Charles King, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, said: “It’s been very good. It doesn’t matter where you come from, there is a basis for being soldiers and they have improved over the two weeks. I’ve enjoyed it very much.” Sergeant Stan Wildney, 1st Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment, known as the Vikings, added: “The recruits coming in are no different from the ones we get. They’ve been good and you can see the change between when they walked in the gate and when they walked out, which is a credit to the staff here.”
January 28. Sunday.
January 27. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley called for action to secure judicial independence as he formally opened the 2018 legal year.
Leading the ceremony for the last time as Chief Justice, Mr Justice Kawaley said: “Judicial independence has been consistently undermined in multiple and often minuscule ways because of an antiquated approach to judicial administration. Between 1968 and 1998, the Cabinet Office was in practice responsible for the judiciary. Between 1998 and 2008, the Attorney-General has been in practice responsible for the judiciary, which is administratively treated as a sub-department of the Ministry of Legal Affairs. “Each position is constitutionally nonsensical. However, the arrangements might have worked in the past, the current position is practically dysfunctional and responsible for an incoherent approach to the needs of the judiciary.” He said the issues might have been masked by Bermuda’s economic prosperity, but said the “gaping sore” was laid bare by the recession. “What seems most unforgivable is that even cost-free law-reform proposals, including some that would save public expense, have been studiously ignored or disgracefully delayed.” One key example was allowing arraignment by video link — something Mr Justice Kawaley said he contacted the Attorney-General about in December of 2012. He said the amendment would involve deleting 11 words of a single piece of legislation, but despite a chain of e-mails no action was taken. Kathy Simmons, the Attorney-General, announced during the ceremony that the legislation would be amended this year. Mr Justice Kawaley continued: “I’m grateful to hear from the Attorney-General today that, in fact, that legislation will be introduced, but I am still bound to remark that I fully understand why my mother when irritated by my tomfoolery sighed: ‘Patience is a virtue’.” He said the situation was understandable given the nature of the attorney-general post, which is both to advise the Government and advance its legislative agenda. “It’s understandable that addressing the needs of the judiciary can be regarded as an irritating distraction from the main task at hand,” Mr Justice Kawaley said. That said, there have recently been encouraging signs of enhanced support on the legislative front. Nevertheless, the judiciary perhaps needs its own minister, charged with upholding the rule of law, judicial independence and responsible for providing administrative support, modeled after the England and Wales model of the Lord Chancellor.” Mr Justice Kawaley also gave an update on changes to the physical courts, praising Registrar Shade Subair Williams’s response to the abrupt relocation of the Supreme Court Registry. “Her elegant initial response to the hasty and undignified retreat from the mould-infested Front Street premises has been consolidated in the past few months,” Mr Justice Kawaley said. "The Front Street premises has been significantly restored and refreshed and now serves as a dedicated Court of Appeal building with an enlarged physical bench and chamber space.” He added that Supreme Court 2, which had been housed in the upper floor of Sessions House, had been handed over for the use of the Senate. Meanwhile, further work in the building had improved facilities for jurors. “The jury room has been relocated and much-enlarged and occupies space previously used for the judge’s chambers,” Mr Justice Kawaley said. “This is a major improvement, both in terms of the integrity and dignity of the jury, and the needs of the present and future have rightly been given precedence over the way things were organized in the past.”
January 27. Social, economic and geographic data from 2014 to 2016 is highlighted in a new publication from the Department of Statistics. The 2017 Bermuda Facts and Figures pamphlet contains data about Bermuda’s economy as well as historical notes on the development of the island since the 16th century. Complimentary copies are available from the Department of Statistics, third floor of CedarPark Centre Building, 48 Cedar Avenue in Hamilton. Copies can also be collected from the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Bermuda National Library or online at www.gov.bm/department/statistics.
January 27. Bermuda Marathon champion Richard Tirop Kessio was brutally killed in his Kenyan homeland. Police in the western city of Eldoret have launched a murder investigation after the “cold-blooded” killing of Mr Kessio, 43, and his friend, Matthew Kimutai Kemboi, according to the Citizen newspaper in Kenya. The bodies of both men were found with deep multiple injuries on the outskirts of the city after the incident in the early hours of Thursday. Mr Kessio and Mr Kemboi had been at a local pub before leaving for home at midnight, the Citizen reported. The athletics community in Bermuda reacted with shock at the death of Mr Kessio, a three-times marathon winner between 2010 and 2014 who was described as a gentle and kind man. Anthony Raynor, the chairman of Bermuda Marathon Weekend, said: “We are really saddened and shocked by the news. Richard was a really nice person and a friend to the event. We kept in touch with each other and spoke as recently as November. He always expressed an interest in visiting Bermuda, even if he may not return as one of the elite runners. He was just gentle and always had kind words. He used to call and say, ‘Hey Anthony, how is the race?’ He had a kind heart and was always smiling.” Mr Raynor said he was stunned at the violent nature of the killing. He said: “I would like to know, but we will have to wait and see. It just doesn’t make sense.” He added that Mr Kessio, who spent much of his time training in Houston, Texas, leaves many friends in many places. Mr Kessio won the Bermuda Marathon Weekend Marathon in 2010, 2013 and 2014, and is one of only three men to have won the event three or more times. His 2010 winning time of 2hr 17min 32sec is one of the fastest in the island marathon’s 43-year history. He also enjoyed a string of victories in the Barbados Marathon, in the United States, and was named one of the 2014 Masters Long Distance Runners by Running Times. Athletics Kenya president Lieutenant-General Jackson Tuwei told the Citizen: “It’s always shocking to learn of the loss of an athlete. For now we wait for the detailed investigation report so we can establish the cause.”
January 27. Laura Herrmann-Couallier, a graphic artist who put together collections of Bermuda photography, has died at the age of 52. Mrs Herrmann-Couallier and her husband, Christophe, were among 12 people killed last month when a tour bus crashed in Mexico. Among her work, Mrs Herrmann-Couallier designed the softcover book Picturesque at a Glance, which highlighted photographs of Bermuda by local photographer Roland Skinner. Mr Skinner said: “I was looking for a book designer and by chance met Tom Cooke, who was an illustrator for Sesame Street. He was a good friend of Laura’s and that is how the connection was made. We formed an instant friendship that lasted almost 20 years. I was so impressed with her work that we went on to produce calendars, novelty items and an additional three books. Her friendship and business acumen will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved her. It’s hard to believe she is gone, and so sad.” Somers Cooper, a local businessman, said he had met Mrs Herrmann-Couallier after A.S. Cooper purchased Picturesque Gallery. “We initially worked together with Laura to develop and design a new softcover book featuring the Picturesque images, called Picturesque at a Glance. Laura was the consummate professional and an incredible graphic artist. Her design approach was fresh and she was able to capture our vision perfectly, managing the project from start to finish. The end result was another best-selling Bermuda book that has been reprinted multiple times. That was the start of many collaborations on more books and also calendars and other items.” Mr Cooper added that Mrs Herrmann-Couallier was a warm, sensitive and resourceful woman who threw herself into whatever task was in front of her. “Laura’s talent and skill helped present Bermuda at its best. Her legacy for Bermuda are the thousands of beautiful books and calendars that are scattered throughout Bermuda and the world. Those of us who were touched by her will miss her dearly.”
January 27. Women are worried about a string of disturbing phone calls from unknown men. Police issued a warning after a Facebook post on the issue attracted 90 replies this week. One of the victims, Natalie Sannemalm, told The Royal Gazette: “It was definitely a little creepy.” Janelle Parson said her call had made her feel “very uncomfortable”. Tali Gabai-Maiato, the author of the Facebook post on Monday, said that a man had called where she worked looking to speak with one of her female co-workers. Ms Gabai-Maiato wrote: “I’m looking for the thread that was posted on here a while back about some creepy dude calling women at work and pretending he has met them and that they have hooked up, etc. I think the same jerk just called our studio.” The post garnered dozens of responses from women reporting similar phone calls — some dating back years. Ms Sannemalm was one of the women who replied. She said she had received two calls on her cellular phone from an unknown man earlier this month. Ms Sannemalm said the caller said the two had recently spent time together and that he was surprised she did not remember him. In the second call, the caller said the two had recently been intimate together. Ms Sannemalm said: “It was definitely a bit creepy, but I thought it was a prank. I mentioned it to a co-worker and she said it happened to her friends a year ago.” Ms Sannemalm did not initially report the incident, but later left a message with police after reading the comments on the Facebook post. Ms Parson said the call she received at work on Monday afternoon had made her feel “very uncomfortable”. She added: “I’m new to this job, so nobody really knows I work here.” Ms Parson said that the caller said the two had met on the street and that she might not remember him. She said he identified himself as Kevin. She said: “I hung up in the middle of it — I didn’t let him continue the conversation.” Ms Parson said she had seen the Facebook post and comments about similar calls only hours earlier. She did not report the incident to police. Ms Parson explained: “It sounded like a scam. It sounded like somebody just trying to get information.” She said she had only received the one call. Several of the comments made on Ms Gabai-Maiato’s post named a man believed to be behind the calls. A photo said to be of the named man was also posted. Commenting on the posts has since been closed by a group administrator. A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said that anyone who received unwanted calls should contact police. He added: “Similar incidents reported to police in the recent past have led to suspects appearing before the courts charged with relevant offences.”
January 27. One of the island’s most notorious accident spots is under review for tougher safety measures, including the possibility of traffic lights. For business owner Cindy Laws, who has witnessed a series of crashes at the junction of Tee Street and Middle Road, the attention could not come soon enough. “So many people have hit the building, it’s tough to remember the sequence,” the owner of Ainslie’s Interior Decor said. According to a spokeswoman, the Ministry of Public Works is “keenly aware” of its reputation as a frequent accident spot, and is considering safety measures, such as lights. Ms Laws, who has seen two crashes at the busy Devonshire intersection in only the past week, said she would gladly provide input. “When I heard there could be stoplights I thought, ‘good’. Nobody has come to talk to me yet, but it would be right on my boundary, so they would have to,” she said. “It’s nerve-racking to hear and see all these accidents.” The building was struck four times in one year, with the railings on its Middle Road steps torn off so often that she has not replaced them. She said that the last car to plough into the her business “sounded like a bomb; the whole building shook”. Over the years, Ms Laws has tended to the injured using fabric from her shop, and has helped direct traffic to keep motorists from driving over debris. She said: “Old people, young people; you name it. I’m a humanitarian. I can’t sit here doing nothing. I’m always out there assisting people.” She recalled seeing a young man on a motorcycle struck by a car and left with his leg torn open by broken bones. Another driver knocked off his bike “never recovered”, she said, and died several months later. The junction was first signposted as a frequent accident spot in 1994, around the same time Ms Laws set up shop, after there were ten accidents in the first few months of the year. “It’s increased in the last ten years, but there have always been accidents here,” she said. "Many follow a predictable pattern. Most happen the same way. A person coming out of Tee Street turns east, and collides with a driver on Middle Road going west. Some people who’ve never had accidents in their life have accidents right here. Recently there was a guy with a newborn baby in his car. I don’t think that’s someone intending to drive recklessly.” Her suggestion was for a blinking sensor light, similar to those used on pedestrian crossings, to warn motorists when vehicles were turning on to Middle Road. Ms Laws said: “When a car pulls up in the right-hand lane on Tee Street to turn east, there could be a flashing light for the traffic on the main road to slow down and allow that car to get out. That way, there would be no interference with traffic when nobody was trying to get out of Tee Street. I think it would make things safer.”
January 27. A drug smuggler caught importing cocaine while on probation for heroin trafficking has been jailed for another 12 years. Rudolph Travers Clarke was jailed for more than seven years in the United States in 2012 for his part in a $3.9 million heroin importation plot to bring drugs into Bermuda. Clarke was brought back to Bermuda to serve the last part of his sentence at Westgate and released on parole in April 2014 after serving just over three years behind bars. But within months of his release, the 47-year-old was detained by police in Hamilton after picking up a parcel from a courier company containing 445 grams of cocaine. Prosecutors told the court that the drugs could fetch as much as $117,000 if sold on the streets of Bermuda. Clarke fled the island, but he was located in the Bahamas and extradited back to Bermuda in June. He was convicted this week by a jury of conspiracy to import a controlled drug and possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply after a Supreme Court.
January 27. The Clocktower Mall at Dockyard was shut today because of a broken water pipe. A spokeswoman for Dockyard said: “Our team is on site and attending to the repairs.” But she added: “Due to the lack of fresh water, we will keep the Clocktower Mall closed today.”
January 26. Premier David Burt and his Cabinet’s decision to continue with a lawsuit launched by the former government against the Lahey Clinic is in Bermuda’s best interests, Shadow Attorney-General Trevor Moniz said yesterday. Mr Moniz said the Premier and his Cabinet colleagues Kim Wilson and Walter Roban clearly knew a lot more now than eight months ago, when they signed a legal brief drawn up by Ewart Brown’s lawyer in support of a motion by the hospital to have the case dismissed. “They have put themselves in a little bit of a difficult position,” said the One Bermuda Alliance MP. “[But] obviously, that was then, this is now. The case should proceed and they need to get on with it. I wouldn’t have done what they did, I don’t think, but that’s neither here nor there. Their explanation would presumably be ‘if we knew then what we know now’. Now they obviously know a lot more. Now they see what really was going on.” Mr Moniz spearheaded the action against Lahey when he was Attorney-General in the OBA government, filing the suit against the Massachusetts-based teaching hospital in a federal court in Boston in February last year. The civil claim named former premier Dr Brown as a “co-conspirator” and claimed he conducted “excessive, medically unnecessary and frankly dangerous scans” at his two private clinics in Bermuda for his own “enrichment” and gave Lahey a cut of the fees he collected from insurers. Dr Brown strenuously denies the allegations, as does Lahey. Lahey responded to the lawsuit with a motion to have the case dismissed and Dr Brown’s lawyers filed a legal brief to support that motion in May last year, signed by 11 past and present Bermuda parliamentarians. A hearing on the motion to dismiss is due to take place on Wednesday. The brief described the lawsuit as “politically motivated” and a “personal vendetta against the PLP and Dr Brown, as one of its former and influential leaders”. As well as Mr Burt, Mr Roban and Ms Wilson, the other signatories were Dr Brown, former PLP premier Alex Scott, PLP MPs Wayne Furbert, Kim Swan, Michael Scott and Zane DeSilva, and Mark Pettingill and Shawn Crockwell, who were then independent MPs. The lawsuit was expected to be dropped after the PLP’s election win last summer, but this week the Government’s lawyers in Boston filed a fresh submission with the court, in which they continued to oppose Lahey’s bid to have the case dismissed. The submission called on the court to deny Lahey’s motion and alleged that “Lahey’s continuous and systematic illegal activities ... caused substantial harm to Bermuda’s business and property interests in the United States over a 20-year period”. On Sunday, Mr DeSilva quit Cabinet, citing the conflict caused by his close relationship with Dr Brown. Mr Burt, who is at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, has yet to respond to questions from The Royal Gazette about why his government is pursuing the legal action when he and two Cabinet ministers personally opposed it last year. Mr Moniz said the Premier’s “personal predicament about why he did that then” when he was Opposition leader should have no bearing on whether the case proceeds. “I’m sure he’ll say ‘that was then, this is now’,” he said. “This is a substantial case involving a lot of money and it should proceed. The best advice the Government has been able to obtain has said it’s a strong case and they should proceed. The Premier is in an interesting position because at one point he was the chairman of the PLP while Dr Brown was premier. At one point, he certainly worked very closely with him. Maybe there’s some personal bond, but this rises above that. We are talking about the interests of Bermuda. You have to put all that aside.” He suggested the three Cabinet members issue a statement to explain they “didn’t know the whole story at the time and we are in a different position now and we recognize that”. Mr Moniz said he was never pursuing a vendetta, as alleged, but was acting on the “best of the best advice I could get”, adding that Mr Burt and his colleagues were presumably now doing the same. A source with knowledge of the investigation into Dr Brown’s relationship with Lahey said Mr Burt would be acutely aware of the need for the island to show a “robust stand against corruption” on the global stage. “If the Government were seen to dismiss these substantial allegations, that would be a huge black eye for our reputation,” added the source, who asked not to be named. Attorney-General Kathy Simmons said: “I am particularly mindful of what is in the best interests of Bermuda. My actions and words are guided by that one singular focus. In accordance with professional protocol, the Attorney-General’s Chambers will not comment on any active matter that is before the courts. However, where it is appropriate and in the public interest, upon conclusion of any matter, including the Port Royal and Lahey cases, details of the actions taken will be provided.”
January 26. Opinion. By Eron Hill, who is studying for an LLB Law Hons degree at the University of Law (Manchester). "The Bermuda Health Council’s severe reduction in fees, in some cases as much as 87 per cent, for MRI and CT scans came into effect on June 1, 2017 and has resulted in Brown-Darrell Clinic’s recent announcement that it will close its CT scan service, effective January 31, 2018. That this was clearly a targeted political attack on the businesses owned by a political adversary of the One Bermuda Alliance administration, along with the reality that the island could be without a back-up to the only CT scan facility at the hospital, has led to impassioned calls for justice and healthcare options. Outside of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, Brown-Darrell Clinic is the only facility that performs CT scans and Bermuda Healthcare Services is the only facility that performs MRIs — both facilities are owned and operated by the former premier, Ewart Brown. On June 1, 2017, when diagnostic imaging fees were cut, the hospital received an increase in its operating room fees. This was a benefit that obviously would not be afforded to Brown’s clinics, meaning that for more than seven months, BHCS and BDC operated at a significant deficit. The health council that decided to cut the fees comprised two OBA candidates, Simone Barton and Andrew Simons. They were joined on the council by Richard Ambrosio, political adviser to the MP Trevor Moniz. The incontrovertible matter of fact is that Brown’s clinics were the only local private practices affected by these severe cuts. You may find that the synchronicity of timing, events and individuals involved was not a matter of happenstance but, instead, evidence of a carefully orchestrated, direct political attack against a political adversary and his businesses. If the health council was serious about cutting healthcare costs, why would it start with diagnostic imaging, which, according to the Bermuda Health Accounts Report 2014, amounts only to approximately 5.5 per cent of total healthcare expenditure? To justify its decision, the health council stated that Bermuda is above the average in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries for CT scanners. We must bear in mind that Bermuda is not an individually listed OECD country; our statistics are perhaps included under the United Kingdom. In Bermuda, we have epidemic levels of diabetes and, as a jurisdiction, we suffer from mortality rates from prostate cancer that are higher than all OECD countries — Bermuda’s prostate cancer rate is 37.1 per 100,000; the OECD countries’ is 22.8 per cent. Further, our demographic is very different from most OECD countries, as we have far more black people and, unfortunately, much more disease. It must also be noted that CTs in private settings such as Brown-Darrell Clinic are not included in OECD statistics. In sum, the health council’s conclusion that the two CT scanners at one KEMH site is sufficient for Bermuda is disingenuous at best and ought to be re-examined. You should also know that for the past ten years, Brown-Darrell has been the only facility on the island that performs complicated cardiac CT imaging, a highly preferred means of detecting heart disease. KEMH did not perform these tests on its CTs, but, unsurprisingly, the day after Brown-Darrell Clinic is scheduled to close, the hospital tentatively has scheduled its very first cardiac CT imaging tests. This ordeal has nothing to do about cutting costs; this is about closing a black-owned business. The questions have been asked: what will we, the Progressive Labour Party, do to address this blatant injustice? Moreover, what will we, the PLP do to ensure that Bermudians have optimal healthcare options on island and that there is an alternative to KEMH’s CT scan facility? The PLP government granted financial supplements to the Brown-Darrell Clinic and Bermuda Healthcare Services to mitigate the significant and crippling loss suffered by a political decision to slash rates by such significant amounts. But, even with the supplements, Brown-Darrell is still experiencing cuts up to 78 per cent. The hospital also received this supplement, but remember that the hospital already received an increase in the operating-room fees at the same time the cuts to MRI and CT scan fees were made — seven months prior, on June 1, 2017. The reality is that the Government will always keep the hospital running, regardless of what its deficit may be. This government contends that to address the OBA’s blatant political targeting of a black-owned business and ensure that the only other on-island CT scan facility can stay open by reverting the diagnostic imagining fees to the pre-June 2017 rates would increase residents’ health insurance premiums by $23.03 a month — and cost the Government an additional $8.6 million. You may find the Government’s reasoning to be an incredibly unpalatable suggestion, having regard to diagnostic imaging rates having remained the same for ten years and there is nothing changing. Or is there? Perhaps we should consider that it is the Bermuda Health Council’s recent decision to include palliative care, oral chemotherapy drugs, and limb and amputation care to the standard health benefits that is the real reason health premiums will rise. The reality is that diagnostic imaging was viewed by the OBA administration and the Bermuda Health Council as “low-hanging fruit” that had to be cut so that Pals, which has long since operated as a volunteer charity providing palliative care, could benefit from receiving funding from the SHB. After all, that is what will happen now. There is no dispute that Pals is well deserving of community support, but you may ask why it would need to receive additional funding for services that were already adequately being provided for through charitable donations. Respectfully, most medical professionals and indeed members of the community would agree that we should not add benefits to the SHB that will not drive down costs or save lives — the resources should be focused on diagnostic imaging, the preventive-care method that can save lives and ultimately long-term healthcare costs. This is especially important in Bermuda, with regard to our high incidence of disease. You may find that the decision to channel the funding to the charity was the brainchild of Ambrosio, the former head of the charities commission, who sat on the health council at the time these changes were made. Remember that Ambrosio was political adviser to Moniz, the former attorney-general, who initiated proceedings on behalf of the OBA government against Lahey clinic, alleging untoward dealings with Brown. While Ambrosio and Moniz were reviewing Brown’s personal documents and bank statements, Ambrosio and his colleagues were cutting Brown’s fees at the health council. I trust that you see that this has less and less to do with healthcare costs and pursuing the ends of true justice and has more to do with a personal issue. The ultimate consideration for the Government of Bermuda must be: what is in the best interest of Bermudians? The Government must identify opportunities to improve access, quality and outcomes of healthcare delivery, but targeting diagnostic imaging and allowing our only other CT scan service provider to close is not the solution. The Government is invited to reconsider the recent inclusions to the SHB. The real cause of that insurance premium will rise and reintroduce the pre-June 2017 rates because Bermudians deserve healthcare options and failing to rectify the consequences of a clear political attack and justifying it under the guise of healthcare costs sends the message that such acts by public representatives will be tolerated. If that is the case, we are setting a dangerous precedent. Today it’s the targeting of Brown and his businesses, tomorrow it could be you and me."
January 26. Opinion. By Vic Ball, a One Bermuda Alliance senator from November 2014 to July 2017. "Like many of you, I watched with interest the press conference of January 17, when Ewart Brown, the former premier, outlined his grievances regarding cuts to his CT scanning business at the Brown-Darrell Clinic. He expressed how he thinks the measures will not only result in fewer options for patients and loss of employment, but also the closure of his business. However, the picture of him standing there was worth more than even the thousand words spoken. The optics depicted an orchestrated “show of power” befitting of a head of state. To his immediate right was a sitting Cabinet minister, who resigned a few days later. Also there, a Progressive Labour Party MP, a QC lawyer, the Bermuda Industrial Union president and leadership from the People’s Campaign grassroots protest movement. The clear message was that he had the support of the Government and the people, and that the law was also marshaled to his side. During the press conference, Brown boldly named five individuals. He then asked the audience to “remember those names”, as if marking them for some future event. The permanent secretary was particularly singled out. One member in the crowd is heard saying what sounded like “we’re gonna get her”. What was noteworthy was that Brown did not respond. In a follow-up interview with Bernews, Brown also stated that his company was not consulted before the fee changes were made. However, the question needs to be put forward whether his company was ever asked to provide any information and whether his company was co-operative. The information provided may have permitted a more accurate fee change, thus providing less negative impact to his business. Clearly, there are as many ways to characterize consultation, just as there are many ways to undermine it. So let’s review developments in this matter for a minute. Brown, with what appears to be government backing, takes to the podium and makes slanderous allegations against particular public servants. He accuses them of conspiring with the former government to put him out of business. His rhetoric evoked at least one veiled threat against the permanent secretary with others also marked. He demonstrated no regard for the implications for governance or what this may lead to. He claims to not have been consulted but did not say if his company co-operated in providing requested information leading to the policy decision. Six months later, he stomps in front of the camera in this sensational manner and gives us all cause for concern. For the avoidance of all doubt, allow me to be absolutely clear. If Brown or any member of our society is being unlawfully and unfairly targeted by our government or public servants, all of us — black and white — have a duty to put an immediate end to it. Black people need to put an end to it because we are no strangers to bearing the brunt of systemic persecution. White people need to as well because such conduct threatens the stability and integrity of our nation and the well-being of everyone in it. However, this show of unbridled arrogance does not advance this cause. What makes Brown’s allegations even more outrageous is that he was awarded $778,000 for lost revenue. The present government provided this huge sum to Bermuda Healthcare Services, which is a private business. Has a private company ever been given lost revenue by the Government? Is our government now in the business of bailing out private companies? What happened to the more important issue of escalating healthcare costs already out of reach of many working-class Bermudians? Additionally, Brown said in the same Bernews interview that “I support the party financially” and now his company has received $778,000. This alone should have all Bermudians asking the difficult questions. How much wi-fi could have been installed in our education system with this money? How many seniors and those who are barely making ends meet could this money have helped? How many buses could it have fixed? How many outstanding hospital bills could it have paid? I invite all Bermudians who love this nation to wake up and “read the tea leaves”. We have seen this script before and it looks like it will be played out again. What is happening to this country? Have we had a stealthy coup that ushered in a shadow government with an untouchable demagogue? What are the ramifications now that this precedent has been set? Do any of us dare speak out against Brown or anyone in his camp? Do public servants now have to fear being slandered and intimidated with impunity? Is all of this with the endorsement and even participation of political and Labour “leaders”? Does the Government govern at the behest of unselected elements? Was Marc Bean correct when he told us who was really in full control of the PLP behind the scenes? The absence of warranted outrage and decisive action since this incredible display speaks unacceptable volumes."
January 26. Legal opinion, by attorney Josephine Noddings, an associate and a member of the Corporate Team at Appleby. A copy of this column is available on the firm’s web site at www.applebyglobal.com.. "A company incorporated in Bermuda or to which the Companies Act 1981 otherwise applies, can apply to be registered under the Segregated Accounts Companies Act 2000 (Act). A segregated accounts company (SAC) is able to hold certain assets and liabilities in a separate account fire walled from the assets and liabilities of the SAC itself (the SAC’s own account is usually referred to as the “general account”) and the assets belonging to its other segregated accounts. In order for a company to achieve legal separation of its general account and its segregated account(s) it must be registered as an SAC with the Registrar of Companies (ROC) and comply with all relevant laws and regulations governing the operation of an SAC. SACs are commonly used in the insurance sector, for special purpose vehicles, and in the areas of financial guarantees, and securitisation & derivatives structures. The Act is the principal legislation governing SACs in Bermuda, however, an SAC must also comply with other legislation applicable to its structure, for example the Companies Act 1981 and/or the Insurance Act 1978. Documentation and contracts entered into by an SAC are often governed by the laws of a jurisdiction other than Bermuda. In this situation, a bi-location governing law clause should be added that ensures any aspects of the document dealing with the segregated account nature of the SAC are governed by Bermuda law and the Act. To register as an SAC, a company must apply to the ROC. If the company is engaged in insurance business (as defined in the Insurance Act 1978) then the company may proceed direct to application to the ROC. If it carries on business other than insurance business, it must first obtain approval from the Minister of Finance (Minister). If the company has conducted business prior to its application to become an SAC then, unless the Minister directs otherwise, the application must be accompanied by a statutory declaration of the company directors setting out, among other things, a true and accurate statement or description of the assets and liabilities of the company and any pending material transactions. Unless the Minister directs otherwise, the creditors of the company must be notified of the application and the directors’ statutory declaration must either confirm that no creditor will be prejudiced or confirm that the creditors of the company have consented to or been given adequate notice of the registration of the company as an SAC. The ROC may impose conditions on the registration of the company and can require that the company use the abbreviation (SAC) in its name after registration. In addition to its annual reporting obligations and compliance requirements under the Companies Act 1981 and any other relevant legislation (e.g. Insurance Act 1978, Bribery Act 2016) the Act provides that an SAC must comply with other requirements, including:
The ROC can remove a company from the register of SAC companies thus causing it to cease holding such status. If a company wishes to cease being an SAC it must submit a written request to the ROC. An SAC provides companies with an alternative to the cumbersome group structure that is traditionally used to protect assets from risks associated with other aspects of the business. The SAC structure is more flexible and can be less expensive to set up and maintain. However, there are risks associated with utilizing an SAC. Not all jurisdictions have legislation in force that corresponds to the Act, and so there is a risk that the Act may not be upheld or recognized in jurisdictions other than Bermuda. A slight variant on the SAC, the incorporated segregated accounts company (ISAC) would be an entirely new type of entity adopting aspects of the traditional limited company and SACs. Not in existence in Bermuda, it is envisaged that an ISAC structure would afford each segregated account separate legal personality, a key change from the current model. During his Speech from the Throne on September 8, 2017, Governor John Rankin confirmed that Government will draft, table and pass such ISAC legislation as is required to ensure that Bermuda’s hard-won reputation in markets such as the captive insurance market, is preserved and maintained.
January 26. Bermuda’s bid to attract blockchain and cryptocurrency technology companies to the island has been a talking point in Davos, Switzerland this week. The town is hosting the World Economic Forum, which is attended by presidents, prime ministers and many of the world’s most influential business people and innovators. David Burt is leading a team from Bermuda that has taken part in meetings and discussions at associated events surrounding the main forum. Bermuda’s ambitions regarding blockchain and cryptocurrency, and the economic and social opportunities they present for the island, have been highlighted at a number of the events. The Bermuda Government is working to position itself on the front line of the new technologies by creating a workable regulatory environment, and last year it set up a task force aimed at making that happen. Benefits envisaged for the island include educational opportunities for young Bermudians to learn about the technologies and seek careers in the sector. During the past 30 years the island has built an insurance and reinsurance regulatory model that has elevated it to world-leading status in that sector. Doing something similar within the cryptocurrency and blockchain sphere is a goal for the Government, and was among the sentiments expressed by the Premier and Wayne Caines, Minister of National Security, as they spoke yesterday at the Hub Culture pavilion in Davos. They were joined by Sean Moran, of the Bermuda Business Development Agency, who is part of the team visiting Switzerland. During an interview with Edie Lush, executive editor of Bermudian-based Hub Culture, Mr Caines, said: “Being here at Davos, we have been able to meet with innovators in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sphere. We believe this is an emerging area in business, and Bermuda wants to take advantage of and bring those opportunities and companies to set up their companies in Bermuda.” Ms Lush asked what Bermuda was doing to encourage such business opportunities to come to the island. Mr Caines, whose portfolio includes information technology and e-commerce, replied: “Right now we are making sure the legal and regulatory framework are there. We have said to the rest of the world, come and look at Bermuda if you have a crypto or a business in that space.” He is leading a two-team task force, set up in November, to exploring business development opportunities, and deal with associated legal and regulatory matters. Ms Lush said: “When I speak to people in blockchain, they say ‘we do not have the regulations and laws figured out’. How do you encourage people to come, in an industry that is still so nascent?” Mr Caines acknowledged that the blockchain industry is still in an embryonic stage, so the need was to look at the general regulatory environment. He added: “You have to look for key stakeholders that understand the business and allow a key regulatory environment to come together to build what will be the blockchain space. We don’t claim to know it all, but we know key industry stakeholders that are leaders in this space and we will partner with them to make sure that we are the blue-chip jurisdiction for blockchain technologies.” When asked how e-commerce could create jobs in Bermuda, Mr Caines said: “The first part is the education piece. We do not just want to bring companies to Bermuda. We want opportunities for Bermudians to participate in the [jobs] market.” He spoke of businesses partnering with schools to bring the new technologies into classrooms, and drew a parallel to the island’s experience with the insurance industry, where companies had set up offices and brought with them teams and families. “We want to do a similar thing in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, where companies see the benefit of being in Bermuda for the regulatory environment and a country that is open for business — a country that makes our expatriate workers feel welcome and at home, but having a symbiotic relationship where not only do the companies benefit, but the people of Bermuda benefit as well.” Meanwhile, Mr Burt emphasized the importance of the emerging technologies to the Government’s aim for economic growth and jobs. He said: “We have set some very aggressive targets so people know that Bermuda is an option to take advantage of our excellent regulatory reputation, and to transfer those to new industries. And what better place to go to than the World Economic Forum in Davos to raise the visibility of Bermuda, so people can learn more about what we are looking to do, and how we can create additional economic growth to provide more jobs to people at home.” He added that Bermuda is looking to leverage its reputation as a well-regulated, clean and trusted jurisdiction. “We want to leverage that into the future technology, whether that’s insurtech, fintech, regtech, or branching out into other places — setting up a type of sand box where people can feel free to innovate.” The Government is also looking at ways to use the new technologies. On Tuesday, during a discussion panel at the Wipro pavilion in Davos, Mr Burt said Bermuda is to transfer its property deed system to blockchain. The broad collaborative approach that Bermuda takes to develop new opportunities was highlighted by Mr Moran, head of business development at the BDA. He mentioned how the approach has developed over many years and involves the regulator, government, private sector and clients. He said: “What we are doing is pulling all these groups together to create a best of breed solution. We have done this before, particularly in the insurance-linked securities industry and offshoots of our insurance industry, where we were able to innovate and be first to market with some very new products that have been very successful. We think that this should be no different. The model that we want to put in place, as the minister said, can be a product of this sort of collaboration.”
January 26. Stephen Postlewhite, chief executive officer of Aspen Insurance, is leaving with immediate effect after 15 years with the company. The Bermuda-based insurer and reinsurer announced the news a day after it estimated an underwriting loss of $245 million for the fourth quarter of last year, prompting CEO Chris O’Kane to describe Aspen’s 2017 financial performance as “deeply disappointing”. David Cohen, chief underwriting officer of Aspen Insurance, will lead the day-to-day management of the insurance business, reporting to Mr O’Kane. Mr O’Kane said Mr Cohen had made positive changes since joining Aspen in November 2015. “Since his arrival, he has upgraded the underwriting talent in our insurance segment, is refocusing our underwriting book and is positioning Aspen Insurance for success in the next stage of its development,” Mr O’Kane said. “David is a strong and well-respected leader and I am confident that as we move forward, he will drive improvements across our Insurance business.” Mr O’Kane also praised Mr Postlewhite’s “significant contribution” to Aspen.
January 26. Fishing enthusiasts spent roughly $4.6 million last year at the annual Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Kevin Dallas, chief executive of the BTA, said the popular summer fixture delivered a 25 to one return on the authority’s investment, bringing 475 visitors to the island in 2017. The July championship, which launched in 2005, delivers the Bermuda Billfish Blast, Bermuda Big Game Classic and Sea Horse Angler’s Club Billfish Tournament. A total of 38 vessels called on Bermuda for at least one leg of the tournament, and competitors hired ten local charter boats. Anglers paid high season rates for 670 room nights at the event’s host hotel during the tournament itself, with others renting private homes. Visitor spending and room nights were additionally boosted by early arrivals drawn to the 35th America’s Cup. The championship highlights the island’s “sports and adventure side, and resonates with an affluent audience”, Mr Dallas added.
January 26. A drug smuggler was caught red-handed with a large stash of cocaine only months after being released from prison for his involvement in an international heroin trafficking operation. Bermudian Rudolph Travers Clarke was jailed for more than seven years in the United States in 2012 for his part in a $3.9 million heroin importation plot to bring drugs into Bermuda from the Caribbean. Clarke was brought back to Bermuda to serve the last part of his sentence at Westgate and released from prison towards the end of 2015. But within months of his release, the 47-year-old was detained by police in Hamilton after picking up a parcel from a courier company that contained 445 grams of cocaine with a street value of $117,000. Although he then fled the island, Clarke was eventually extradited back to Bermuda and this week he was convicted of conspiracy to import a controlled drug and possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply at Supreme Court by a jury. He was remanded in custody and faces a lengthy prison term when he is sentenced today. In January 2011, Clarke and a second Bermudian, Kyle John of Hamilton Parish, were detained at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. The men were traveling back to Bermuda from St Maarten in the Dutch Antilles, via an American Airways flight. During a layover in New York, customs officers stopped John and searched his bags, and discovered a false bottom in his suitcase. They found the heroin, which weighed 1.2 kilograms; when they opened it up, it was later found to have a street value of approximately $3,952,000 if sold in individual “decks” on the streets of Bermuda. John told a Homeland Security official after his arrest that Clarke gave him the bag of drugs, and he agreed to carry it in return for a payment of $10,000 at the end of the trip. Both Clarke and John later pleaded guilty to being involved in the heroin importation plot and Clarke was sentenced to 87 months in prison.
January 26. Tucker Murphy is set to become a three-times Olympian for Bermuda after qualifying for the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next month. The cross-country skier, who represented Bermuda in Vancouver in 2010 and in Sochi, Russia, four years ago, has reached the B standard in the 15-kilometre freestyle. Murphy, 36, has spent the past few months competing in Kandilli, Turkey, and Seefeld, Austria, in an attempt to reach his third successive Winter Olympics. He will travel to Pyeongchang with his father, Mike Murphy, the president of the Bermuda Winter Ski Association, who will serve as the island’s chef de mission. “Tucker got the lowest number of [qualifying] points he’s ever had since he started,” Murphy Sr said. “The lower the points, the better the result. He’s doing pretty well and he’s getting towards the first cut-off for the top, top groups, so he’s definitely improved.” Tucker, who is based at present in South Tyrol, an autonomous province in northern Italy, will train and compete right up until the week before the Games, which run from February 9 to 25. Such is the gulf in resources between powerhouse winter sport nations, like Norway and Sweden, and the smaller nations, Tucker has joined a small subset of skiers from the likes of Chile, Bolivia and the not-so-snowy European countries such as Portugal and Ireland in a separate competition within international races. “There’s a group of athletes he competes against at this level,” Mike Murphy explained. “They don’t win medals or anything, but they have their own competition going. It’s among the smaller countries and it’s like the big race. Sometimes they let them go first, or sometimes they let them go on the back. It depends on the snow.” A multi-talented sportsman, having competed in triathlon at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, Tucker started cross-country skiing while studying at Dartmouth College, the Ivy League university, in New Hampshire. He is equally decorated as an academic, as the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship for Bermuda in 2005 and has a Blue in triathlon from the University of Oxford. “He likes to compete and likes to train a lot,” his father added. “The island is conducive to doing a lot of sports and he has had good experiences in the triathlon and running races.” Accompanying Tucker and his father to South Korea will be coach Pepa Miloucheva and general secretary Sean Field-Lament. Bulgarian Miloucheva was selected because she is a “multitasker”, according to Murphy Sr, and is particularly gifted for waxing the skis to ensure they are best suited to the conditions in South Korea. “Waxing is probably one of the most important things,” said Murphy Sr, who, along with his son, spearheads the Friends of the Bermuda Railway Trail charity. “The waxer always gets blamed if somebody doesn’t do as well as they should. They dump the blame on the waxer! It’s a real special talent. You can’t imagine how refined the whole thing is. The big countries have a meteorologist come a year in advance to try and predict what the snow conditions will be, so the waxers can get it right. This is what we’re competing against.” Bermuda has been represented at the Winter Olympics since the 1992 Games in Albertville, France, where Simon Payne competed in the luge. “It’s good publicity for the island,” his father said. “We wear our red Bermuda shorts and our blue blazers, and march with the flag. There’s a lot of different good things that come out of it.” Bermuda’s traditional attire at the opening ceremony certainly ensured Murphy stood out at the Sochi Games, with Maria Sharapova, the tennis star, tweeting: “Bermuda wearing shorts . . . love it! 6 degrees in the stadium #Opening Ceremony”. Matt Leseur, a Bermudian freestyle mogul skier, had hoped to join Tucker in Pyeongchang. The 19-year-old earned the island an eligibility spot, finishing in the top 30 at the World Cup in Ruka, Finland, last month, but ultimately fell short in his qualifying objective. “Matt did a terrific job and made a super effort to get there,” his father said. “He was extremely hopeful and did make the quota list, which is quite remarkable.” Tucker is only the third Bermudian after Payne and Patrick Singleton (luge and skeleton) to appear at a Winter Olympics. He finished 88th in Vancouver in 2010 before improving on that display with an 84th-place finish in Sochi.
January 26. When it comes to securing a knighthood for Clyde Best, top footballers Shaun Goater and veteran pro Randy Horton are on the same team: make it happen. The death this month of Cyrille Regis, another football laureate who praised Mr Best as a trailblazer for black footballers, underscored the magnitude of his perseverance through racist abuse. It follows a New Year’s Honours List that raised eyebrows in some quarters for its lack of diversity. But for Bermudians to pay tribute to Mr Best, mid-May marks the deadline for the 2019 New Year Honours, while mid-November is the cut-off for next year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours. Mr Goater said: “Clyde Best deserves this. Just thinking of Cyrille Regis, we don’t honour people when they’re alive. We can make this catch on. Hopefully it does. It’s amazing what he endured.” Mr Goater called Mr Best “a role model for black players”. He added: “He was of a time and era when I was young. I didn’t realize the scope of what he’d done until I came to England. Certainly being aware of the challenges he went through, which were ten times worse than what I went through, I am all for him being Sir Clyde. He’s a humble person and he deserves this. Hopefully it can happen.” Famously unassuming, Mr Best himself said it was “nice to know that you’ve got people backing you and understand the plight you had to go through”. He added: “I not only had to do it for myself, but for others in England at a time when racism was at its peak. I don’t see why having a title should change you as an individual. My mother told me years ago that if you treat people the way you want to be treated in life, you won’t go wrong.” Mr Horton, a former sports minister and professional footballer for the New York Cosmos, said he would back a campaign “absolutely — 2,000 per cent”. Nominations can be made at any time, and links to the Foreign Office’s Honours nomination form are provided on the Bermuda Government’s online portal. Mr Horton spoke in the wake of a Royal Gazette editorial pressing for the island’s public to lobby the honours committee, starting with Sebastian Coe, chairman of the sports committee that would take recommendations forward to 10 Downing Street and, ultimately, Buckingham Palace for Royal Assent. But Mr Horton added: “I think we should do it from here. We should not need Sebastian Coe; it doesn’t have to be someone from the UK. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be pushed for from the highest level here.” He looked back on England during the 1960s when nationalism and racism were emboldened by the growth of migrant communities from former British colonies in the Caribbean, India and Pakistan. “You didn’t just get it from spectators, but from players as well,” Mr Horton said. “That was before Fifa came out with their policy against racism.” The former House Speaker has called for a Best knighthood “twice on the floor of the House”, he said: in 2009, after Best took the football award at the Annual Caribbean Awards Sports Icons, and again in 2012. “I spoke to why he should be knighted for his major contribution, not just to the actual playing of the game but the manner in which people were treated.” Mr Best was an “idol” to Mr Regis as well as the likes of Laurie Cunningham, Mr Horton said. “He set the stage for them, not only in the first division, but to go on and play for England. “Clyde was not even from the UK. To be there and go through what he did, a lot of people would have given up, or responded in such a way that they would not have been able to play. It was amazing how he handled it. We tend to honour people only when they die.” He recalled watching a West Ham against Fulham game during a London trip while he was minister, when a younger neighbour in the stands was “beyond himself” to learn that he had not only played with Mr Best but coached him. “In London, for young black kids at the time, when Clyde was playing, no matter which team you were for, you wanted to be like Clyde Best. He was big, strong, fast, [had] a great shot and headed the ball like nobody else could, and he was around guys like Bobby Moore and Martin Peters, guys who played in the World Cup. I remember coaching him just before he went to the UK. He just went on and did what he did. Clyde Best led the way, and he took it all.” According to Government House, Bermudians have been knighted along two routes. Knights Bachelor are knighted by the monarch rather than through one of the orders of chivalry, such as Sir Austin Ward in 2006, Sir Richard Gorham in 1995, and Sir John Plowman in 1979. Others have achieved recognition within the Order of the British Empire, such as Dame Jennifer Smith in 2005, Dame Pamela Gordon Banks in 2004, and Dame Lois Browne-Evans in 1999. Progressive Labour Party MP Christopher Famous, who had queried the dearth of black candidates in the New Year Honours List this month, called for other sports figures to back the campaign for Sir Clyde. “Clyde Best has been a pioneer for black football, and with the untimely passing of Cyrille Regis, it’s only just that someone of Clyde Best’s stature gets recognized,” he said. “Morally, he has my support. Official nominations should come from his peers — the people who know him intimately.”
January 25. The House of Lords has voted down an attempt to force Bermuda and other UK Overseas Territories to adopt a public register of company ownership. The proposal came last week in the form of an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, and was rejected by Britain’s upper chamber by 211 votes to 201. Amendment 73, moved by Baroness Stern, named Bermuda and five other territories — Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks & Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands. The proposal said that Britain should order any of these territories that failed to establish a publicly accessible beneficial ownership register by January 1, 2020 to do so through an Order in Council — effectively a decree from the UK. The Lords voted down a similar proposal in April last year, presented as an amendment to the Criminal Finances Bill. Beneficial owners include those who have the benefits of ownership of a company, even when the title of the company is listed under another name. Bermuda has had a central beneficial ownership registry for about 70 years and has argued that making it public when few other countries do would be damaging to the island’s international business sector. Under tax transparency agreements, Bermuda is obliged to share such information with the UK and many other countries. The UK will monitor the effectiveness of those arrangements through the end of this year and file a report in Britain’s Parliament by July 2019. Lord Ahmad, Britain’s Minister for the Commonwealth and United Nations, who is responsible for the Overseas Territories, said Bermuda and the other islands mentioned had made good progress with transparency and warned that forcing them to go public with ownership registers could be counterproductive. “Imposing public registers of company beneficial ownership on the Overseas Territories against their wishes and not including their legislative bodies and elected representatives is something that the territories will not take lightly,” Lord Ahmad said. “It will set back progress we have already made and have a negative impact on the ability of UK law enforcement and tax authorities to access beneficial ownership information held across the territories.” And he asked the Lords if they were talking about Wales and Scotland, rather than Anguilla and Bermuda, whether they “would be so keen to disenfranchise their elected representatives”.
January 25. The attempt by Bermuda to ban same-sex marriage will damage Britain’s international reputation if it is allowed to go ahead, a UK politician warned yesterday. Chris Bryant, who will lead a debate on the controversy in the House of Commons on Monday, told The Royal Gazette that the British Government should block a Bill designed to replace same-sex marriage with civil partnerships. The Domestic Partnership Act, which aims to reverse a Supreme Court ruling last May that opened the way for gay marriages, has yet to be signed into law by John Rankin, the Governor. Mr Bryant said: “I think Britain will harm its reputation internationally for leading on such issues as this when we basically say ‘yes, in one of our overseas territories, which has a strong link to the United Kingdom and has the same queen, we are prepared to sanction getting rid of same-sex marriage’.” He added: “I used to be a minister in the Church of England. I understand some people’s religious issues around all this, but 200 years ago the Church of England still thought slavery was OK. I think in 200 years’ time, Christians will be saying ‘why weren’t we celebrating love?’. Lots of Christians do, of course.” Mr Bryant, a former Overseas Territories Minister at the Foreign Office, was speaking after he was given a half-hour adjournment debate on the Bermuda Bill, to be held at the end of Monday’s session at Westminster. He will speak for 15 minutes before Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, responds for the Government. Mr Bryant, the opposition Labour MP for Rhondda in Wales, said: “I’ll say I think the Government should always sit down with politicians in each of the overseas territories and try not to get to these standoffs. I think the only legitimate position for a government that supports same-sex marriage is to say to those territories it must stand there as it does here in the United Kingdom.” Mr Bryant added he “very much” valued the links between the UK and its overseas territories. He said: “I think of British citizens in Bermuda as being just as much a British citizen as a constituent of mine in Rhondda.” He added the close ties meant the UK was prepared to step in with help last year when Caribbean territories were hammered by hurricanes. Mr Bryant, who entered into a civil partnership in 2010, said: “That’s the kind of link we want to retain.” He added he believed Britain, where same-sex marriage was introduced in 2014, had a duty to intervene in Bermuda, as it should in Northern Ireland, where marriage equality is also illegal. Same-sex marriage in the province was blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party in 2015, despite support from a majority of Northern Ireland Assembly members. Mr Bryant said: “I would be telling the Government to do the same in Northern Ireland. When Labour was in government and we introduced civil partnerships, we said they had to happen in Northern Ireland.” The backbencher added that a reversal of marriage equality by the island’s government would signal to gay couples who have already wed that they were “not really” married, even if those marriages would still be considered legal. Mr Bryant said: “In the past, people thought homosexuality was something you chose. You chose to have sex with other men or other women.” But he added no one could seriously hold that view today. He said: “You’d be hard pressed to find a serious psychiatrist in the world who thinks it’s a mental health problem or that it’s a choice. I say God made me this way. I don’t think he would want me to live rejected by society or without the opportunity that love affords.” Monday’s debate will not result in a parliamentary resolution, but Mr Bryant said he hoped the British Government would pledge to stand by same-sex marriage and stand by its “strong links” with Bermuda. The Foreign Office said this month that it was “disappointed” by the Domestic Partnership Act, which passed in Parliament last month. But a spokeswoman added that “this is a matter for the Bermuda Government acting within the terms of the Bermuda Constitution and in accordance with international law”.
January 25. The Government is continuing to pursue its lawsuit against the Lahey Clinic, according to a court submission filed by its lawyers this week. The claim, for unspecified damages, alleges “corrupt enterprises” between the Massachusetts-based teaching hospital and former premier Ewart Brown. It was filed in a Massachusetts federal court in February last year, when the One Bermuda Alliance was in power, and was expected to be dropped after the Progressive Labour Party’s election win last summer. But on Monday, Boston law firm Cooley LLP, representing the Government of Bermuda, made a fresh submission opposing an attempt by Lahey to have the case dismissed. The submission calls on the court to deny Lahey’s motion to dismiss. It repeats an allegation that “Lahey’s continuous and systematic illegal activities ... caused substantial harm to Bermuda’s business and property interests in the United States over a 20-year period”. Judge Indira Talwani will hear arguments for and against the motion to dismiss at a hearing in the District Court of Massachusetts on Wednesday. The submission made by the Government on Monday contradicts a legal brief submitted last May by 11 past and present parliamentarians in support of Lahey’s motion to have the complaint dismissed. David Burt, now the Premier and then the Opposition leader, was a signatory to that legal brief. The brief described the lawsuit as “politically motivated” and a “personal vendetta against the PLP and Dr Brown, as one of its former and influential leaders”. Kim Wilson and Walter Roban, both now Cabinet ministers, as well as PLP MPs Wayne Furbert, Kim Swan, Michael Scott and Zane DeSilva also signed the legal brief. Mr DeSilva left Cabinet this week because of the “conflict” created by his close friendship with Dr Brown. The Lahey Clinic and Dr Brown deny the allegations in the Government’s lawsuit. The Royal Gazette approached Mr Burt for comment and asked the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Government’s Boston-based lawyers for an update on the case. No responses were received by press time.
January 25. A move to expand United Nations world heritage status to other parts of the island could hurt the town of St George, a former mayor warned yesterday. Henry Hayward, who was mayor when the town and nearby forts won the coveted Unesco designation in 2000, said the honour would be diluted if it was shared with other sites. Mr Hayward added: “The fact is that St George’s needs every bit of assistance it can get. Hamilton, with Fort Hamilton, is a thriving city and the Government has poured millions of dollars into Dockyard developing the cruise ship docks. St George’s has been left in the background, with the golf course closed and no hotel development until recently. This would be just one more thing that would make it less attractive to go to.” Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said last October that he would petition Unesco to include military fortifications elsewhere in Bermuda in its World Heritage Site coverage. Colonel Burch said: “The designation, while recognizing ‘related fortifications’, recognized only those fortifications in the parish of St George’s. However, in this island country, all fortifications — from St George’s to Somerset — are related. Together, these unparalleled groups of fortifications graphically illustrate English military engineering from the 17th to the 20th century.” He added: “All such fortifications, especially the largest at the old Royal Naval Dockyard, are related to St George’s and thus within the terms of the original designation of our World Heritage Site.” Colonel Burch said any expansion would involve a “supplemental application” to Unesco. He added: “This addition will help foster Bermuda’s heritage tourism and underscore the cultural legacy and value of these built monuments to Bermuda and the world.” But Mr Hayward said: “If this goes ahead, the Unesco designation would cover essentially the whole island. The significance of St George’s would be diluted.” Mr Hayward said it took around a year for St George’s to earn world heritage status and that the historic St Peter’s Church played a large role in Unesco’s decision to award world heritage status. He explained: “They said St Peter’s Church was significant enough for Unesco. However, it was the town of St George’s that applied for it.” The designation by Unesco was designed to highlight areas of major cultural or natural importance. Only 1,073 places around the world have World Heritage Site status. Mr Hayward said: “I think the designation has been positive for St George’s. I wouldn’t say it had been a boon necessarily, but it added credibility to the historic sites. Certainly with St Peter’s, which dates back to 1612, we are trying to market that as a significant spot.” Dr. Edward Harris, the former executive director of the National Museum of Bermuda, has backed the bid to include more parts of the island in the Unesco designation. Dr Harris said Unesco had said consideration should be given to the addition of more fortifications. He added: “The additions in no way would dilute the value of the town of St George and the forts in St George’s Parish. They could only enhance the World Heritage Site by reason of the importance of the additional sites and the power of the organisations that run them. It has been 18 years since Unesco’s recommendation to expand the Bermuda sites was embedded in the World Heritage Site inscription. Due to the improvements of the proposed additional sites, the Government recognizes it is now time to act and has been encouraged to do so by heritage authorities in London.” Dr Harris said Government had shown it recognized the value of cultural tourism. He added: “From end to end, Bermudians could claim the island as world heritage, which is what it is. The addition of those forts would also bring the additional strength of the Corporation of Hamilton and the National Museum in support of Bermuda’s World Heritage Site.” Kenneth Bascome, a former St George’s mayor and MP, also said he had no objection to the proposal. He added: “I think some members of the community will have a problem, but I take the view the whole island is our home.”
January 25. Aspen is “deeply disappointed” with its 2017 financial performance, says the company’s chief executive officer Chris O’Kane. His remark came as the Bermudian insurer and reinsurer estimated an underwriting loss of $245 million for the fourth quarter of last year, of which net catastrophe losses are in the region of $135 million. Mr O’Kane said: “We are deeply disappointed with our financial performance in 2017. We have taken a number of actions to improve our underwriting performance and expect to see the impact of these reflected in our 2018 underwriting year results and beyond. We believe our capital position is appropriate to support our ongoing business and underpins our financial strength ratings.” The company, which has offices at 141 Front Street, added that its “does not anticipate a significant impact on its net income in 2018” as a result of US tax reform that took effect at the start of this year. Aspen said the catastrophe losses were related to wildfires in California in the last three months of 2017 and would mainly impact the company’s reinsurance segment. In addition, Aspen said it had suffered an increased frequency of mid-sized and attritional losses, including property and fire-related losses in the UK and the US, as well as cyber losses and an increase in a previously reported surety loss. “Aspen’s reserves for losses and loss adjustment expenses remain strong and the expected fourth quarter 2017 underwriting loss includes a release of reserves from prior years,” the company added. Aspen’s fourth-quarter financial results are scheduled for release on February 7.
January 25. A 22-year-old man was jailed yesterday for six years for smuggling more than $200,000 of cocaine into Bermuda. Dwayne George Watson was caught at the airport after flying to Bermuda from Jamaica through New York. Supreme Court heard Watson, from Jamaica, was stopped for a random search after he passed through customs and collected a single suitcase on September 1 last year. Customs officers noticed he shook while he answered questions and that the zipper of the suitcase had been zip-tied shut. An X-ray of the case showed “irregularities” in the handle. Customs officers drilled into the handle and found white powder inside. A further search revealed 11 packages of cocaine and cocaine freebase, also known as crack, hidden in the case’s base, handle and corners. More than a kilogram of cocaine was found, which prosecutors said had an estimated street value of up to $200,634. Watson told police he had agreed to bring cannabis into Bermuda after he struggled to find a job in Jamaica. He said he expected to receive $3,000 and planned to use the cash to buy a taxi. Watson said he was given the suitcase in Jamaica and was shocked to discover later that it contained cocaine. Crown prosecutor Takiyah Burgess asked for a sentence of ten years and six months. She told the court Watson knew he was importing drugs, even if he believed the drug was cannabis, but said he deserved credit for an early guilty plea and his previous clean record. Defence lawyer Elizabeth Christopher argued that a sentence of five years would be more appropriate. She told the court: “It is a very significant mitigating factor that he thought he was bringing in cannabis.” Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe said: “He was to receive $3,000 for the importation of drugs, a small amount when you consider the untold damage that the cocaine would have had on the Bermuda community had the defendant not been caught.” The judge said Watson was entitled to some discount for his belief that he was importing cannabis rather than cocaine, but not a significant discount. He sentenced Watson to six years, but ordered that any time on remand should be taken into account.
January 24. Former government minister Zane DeSilva denied claims last night from Progressive Labour Party sources that he was ordered to quit Cabinet by the Premier. Mr DeSilva branded it “absolutely false” that he had been told by David Burt to resign from his post as Minister of Social Development and Sport. Sources both inside and close to the PLP said earlier that Mr DeSilva had been summoned to meet Mr Burt after a public break from the party line last week over former premier Ewart Brown. The Premier was said to be angered over Mr DeSilva’s support for Dr Brown at a press conference set up to denounce the Government’s own health regulator. Dr Brown blamed the Bermuda Health Council and its fee cuts for the closure of the high-tech medical CT scanner unit at his Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s. Other sources suggested that Mr DeSilva’s own leadership ambitions played a part in his Cabinet exit, which was announced by Mr Burt on Sunday. The Premier said he had “reluctantly accepted” Mr DeSilva’s resignation and said he was “a friend and colleague”. Sources, however, insisted that Mr Burt was taken by surprise by Mr DeSilva’s show of support at last Wednesday’s press conference, at which PLP MP Derrick Burgess also allied himself with Dr Brown. Mr Burt, in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, could not be contacted for comment last night. Mr DeSilva denied in the media this week that he was ordered to tender his resignation. He insisted his close friendship with Dr Brown had sparked his decision to resign. Mr DeSilva’s Register of Interests in the House of Assembly also lists a directorship in the private dialysis clinic Bermuda Life Centre Ltd, in which Dr Brown is also an investor. Dr Brown blamed the BHeC last week for a political “vendetta” against him, calling out several members by name. Tawanna Wedderburn, chief executive of the BHeC who was one of those named, refused to comment yesterday on whether the health watchdog had stepped up security at its Wesley Street headquarters. Mr DeSilva was said to be interested in the top job in the PLP when former leader Marc Bean was under pressure to resign in 2016. The Southampton East MP rejected the suggestion after he quit Mr Bean’s Shadow Cabinet. He told The Royal Gazette that he had “never put myself up for leadership; it’s not my agenda to do so”.
January 24. Legal Opinion. By Joseph Giret QC. He has worked for Wakefield Quin since his arrival in Bermuda at the beginning of October 2017. He is ranked as a Band 1 silk in Britain for commercial law and has been recommended in a number of legal directories including the Legal 500. "Corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that affects all countries, so said in November 2017 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Action against Corruption and Economic Crime. Bermuda is not yet a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, the only legally binding, universal anti-corruption instrument. However, there are many states that have signed up. Nicaragua and South Sudan, by way of two simple examples as signatories, have been assessed to have the highest perceived levels of public-sector corruption according to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 — published by Transparency International, which labels itself as the “global coalition against corruption”. The convention sets the right tone and standard to aspire to. All signatories, it may be argued, have the right intention, whatever else is said. Bermuda has, though, passed its own legislation, moulded around the British legislation of the Bribery Act of 2010, namely, the Bribery Act 2016, which came into force in June 2017. Bermuda has done this as a recognition not just of its obligations to its own citizens, but to the wider international community, paving the way to becoming a signatory to the UN convention in due course. As is said in the official government guidance document of June 2017, it will help to enhance Bermuda’s international reputation for the highest ethical standards; it is part of a strategy to maintain the island’s status as a clean and reputable business jurisdiction. This begs the question: “What is Bermuda’s reputation?” By reference to some of The Royal Gazette’s own past reports, the public’s own perception is arguably such that it appears that confidence in standards is not all that high. Perhaps not all would agree with me; I may be wrong. However if so, this undermines public confidence in the ethical standards of others in this small community; this would in its own right, if correct, be troubling, where typically, Bermudians know almost everyone else on the island — if not personally then by knowing someone else who does. Such a small community needs to hold its head up high in this regard and be confident that everyone got to where they got to — businesses, officials, etc — through merit. A good-enough reason, then, for promoting this law. Detective Chief Inspector Nicholas Pedro on October 24, 2017 in the Gazette said “reports in recent years suggested corruption was more prevalent than had traditionally been the case”, but “was keen to emphasize that it is not as widespread as in many other countries”. He also said that “traditionally in Bermuda, corruption or bribery was limited only to public officials”. He said lastly that “priority will be given to alleged offences that could affect public confidence in the island’s legal system”. Pedro said that “more than 40 criminal investigations involving money laundering, serious fraud and corruption were under way at the time of making his statement, involving individuals and businesses”. The average Bermudian has probably heard enough about all this corruption stuff in The Royal Gazette over the past few months if not years, so why should any of it matter, as hardly any of it touches their lives? Why bother getting excited or concerned, let alone pay any interest? Well it matters, for two reasons. First because of the desire to be proud to be part of a society that is “walking the walk” as well as “talking the talk”. To live eat and breathe in the knowledge that all are equal in the eyes of the law, and we get where we get by merit and achievement and so does everybody else. A level playing field, in other words. Second, it matters because business climate and attitudes to moneymaking forums can change; less investment here means fewer expatriates and workers from overseas taking up appointments and spending money earned here. It also means fewer jobs for Bermudians. The US State Department Office of Investment Affairs’ Investment Climate Statement, published on October 14, 2014 within its Bermuda — Corruption Commercial Guide said: “Corruption, including bribery, raises the costs and risks of doing business. Corruption has a corrosive impact on both market opportunities overseas for US companies and the broader business climate. It also deters international investment, stifles economic growth and development, distorts prices and undermines the rule of law.” Importantly, Bernews on June 8, 2017 reported former attorney-general Trevor Moniz as saying “taxpayers are defrauded, honest businesses suffer from unfair competition and a society’s economic and social development is undermined”. Who among honest and reasonable folk want that in their society? Yes, it’s important therefore to everyone. Less and less tolerance of achievement through enhanced means is evident; sportsmen and women taking drugs are the subject of scrutiny and sanction. This is the way the world is becoming these days: protective of minorities and promoting equality and fairness for all. Sport, an enormous generator of wealth globally is high-visibility; so now is business on every level. A culture of abhorrence of enhancing individual positions through bribery and corruption is no longer something that Bermudians can turn a blind eye to — if they ever did, that is to say. The world of business is not exempt and Bermuda requires a level playing field for all at every level of society. This new law is expected to bring about, so far as Pedro is concerned at any rate, “a change in mindset for the island”. All businesses are required to take positive steps and to give leadership from the top down. Those in management roles, “watch out” because it is your absolute obligation to ensure compliance and to have effective policies in place. If there is no policy in place, there will be no available defence. If unsure of what must be done and if overwhelmed by the new obligations, each individual business must, without fail, take measures to prevent corruption through bribery. This is a statutory obligation and not an option, with failure attracting potential liability. Every business is different and should tailor its procedures to address the particular risks it has in its own marketplace. The Government has published its guidance document on good practice and procedures for corporate anti-bribery programmes, which businesses are obliged to implement. If in any doubt advice should be sought from qualified persons. There has developed in all societies a desire to encourage whistleblowers for whom protections are given. Further to the tolerance, a positive legal duty exists in some cases to report on corrupt or unfair practices. This Act makes it an offence for anyone to bribe anyone, or to receive a bribe, or to request one that includes gifts, donations, discounts and favoritism in employment. In this light, therefore, no Bermudians are exempt. It is now almost considered a moral duty to report these practices, whereas it might have been the case for turning a Nelsonian “blind eye”. Not any more. Happily and finally, in Bermuda, many good steps have been taken with a series of laws, regulations and penalties to combat corruption and, generally speaking, according to the statement by the US State Department’s Office of Investment Affairs, “positively enforces them ... [examples are] ... the Good Governance Act 2012, the Bermuda Criminal Code and the Proceeds of Crime Act, and in order to distance itself from perceived impropriety often associated with offshore banking centres, Bermuda continues to update its regulatory framework to meet international standards. “In response to the Panama Papers in the spring of 2016 (in which Bermuda was not significantly featured), Bermuda announced that it would provide faster access to the UK’s National Crime Agency to Bermuda’s longstanding registry of ownership of companies”. Hitherto the focus of concern, if I have understood correctly, has been the conduct and activities of public officials. There is no evidence that any reference by Pedro to the legal system generally is focused on any particular concern or derived from the conduct of legal practices themselves. In Transparency International’s document, Assessment of Key Sectors, first published in June 2011, and its assessment of legal profession corruption risks, this was said: “There are few recorded examples of corruption in the UK legal profession — and very little evidence to suggest that the UK legal profession is being targeted by organized criminals to the extent that happens in other countries ... it would appear from this evidence that corruption in the legal profession is infrequent and is neither systematic nor organized.” It would appear that the same broad considerations might well or should apply to Bermuda, and Pedro’s concerns as identified above might well therefore have applied to concern rooted in criminal proceedings and the same issues raised in the same report, such as “avoiding pre-trial detention, delaying court action, influencing trial outcomes, leaking information to criminals about ongoing investigations”, rather than to the profession as a whole. That much has to be surmised from the available evidence, as nothing more specific was mentioned by Pedro. To date in Bermuda, only once in 1989, is there evidence concerning “kickback” payments in the private sector. The results were fines of $5,000 and $1,500 for the respective defendants, or $10,000 and $3,000 respectively, in today’s money. The maximum penalties under the Bribery Act 2016 [section 16] are, for an individual, on summary conviction, a fine not exceeding $500,000 or ten years’ imprisonment, or both, and on indictment, an unlimited fine or imprisonment for a term of 15 years, or both. Any other person on summary conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding $500,000, or on indictment, to an unlimited fine. The above serves to illustrate the seriousness of the offending, such are the levels of penalty available to the court."
January 24. Law firm Appleby provided offshore services to a bank accused of backing terrorism, a British newspaper claimed yesterday. The Guardian said Appleby worked for the Cayman Islands holding company of FBME Bank, which was banned last year from the American financial system. The report said Appleby represented FBME for “at least a year” after allegations were made against the bank by the United States Treasury. It added that Appleby also acted as an agent for FBME “for more than a decade” before the allegations were made. The US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said in 2014 that FBME was “of prime money-laundering concern”. Fincen added: “FBME is used by its customers to facilitate money laundering, terrorist financing, transnational organized crime, fraud, sanctions evasion and other illicit activity internationally and through the US financial system.” The Guardian report said Appleby withdrew from acting as the registered agent of the FBME holding company in December 2015. The bank was established in Cyprus in 1982 as the Federal Bank of the Middle East. It changed its country of incorporation to the Cayman Islands in 1986, and in 2003 moved its headquarters to Tanzania. It changed its name to FBME Bank in 2005. Regulators in Tanzania and Cyprus now retain control over the bank’s business, although FBME has filed arbitration proceedings against the Cypriot state and is demanding $1.82 billion in damages. Among the 2014 Fincen allegations against FBME were that a customer received “hundreds of thousands of dollars from a financier for Lebanese Hezbollah” and that the bank “provided financial services to a financial adviser for a major transnational organized crime figure”. The bank was also accused of having “at least” one customer that “was a front company for a US-sanctioned Syrian entity, the Scientific Studies and Research Centre”. The Guardian report added it was alleged the SSRC was part of the Syrian Government’s chemical weapons programme. A BuzzFeed News article published last year on FBME and its clients used details from investigators brought in to carry out an internal inquiry into Fincen’s claims. Included was an e-mail sent by a senior director at FBME that alleged one of the bank’s clients had benefited financially from the distribution of child pornography. The bank has denied all the Fincen allegations. FBME said last December: “FBME has not engaged in money laundering and was never accused of such until the Fincen allegations. The bank has acted in compliance with all the EU and Cyprus anti-money laundering directives — a fact corroborated by multiple third-party auditors.” The bank said that suggestions it operated with a culture of secrecy where staff were encouraged to duck money-laundering regulations was “absolutely false”. It added: “The outrageous claims that FBME acted for terrorists, or knowingly acted for any sanctioned individuals, are false and deliberately damaging.” Appleby revealed last October that a “data-security incident” in 2016 involved company data being “compromised”. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and almost 100 media organisations around the world examined 13.4 million files from offshore law firms and company registries in offshore jurisdictions. The files include financial statements, e-mails and loan arrangements going back decades. Around half of the documents came from a cyber attack on Appleby. Appleby has taken legal action against The Guardian and the BBC over coverage of the Paradise Papers leak on the grounds that their reports were not in the public interest. The international law firm, founded in Bermuda, admitted it was “not infallible” and had always acted quickly “to put things right”.
January 24. Bermuda’s controversial move to ban same-sex marriage is to be debated by British politicians. Labour MP Chris Bryant has asked for an adjournment debate on the subject, which will take place at the end of Monday’s session in the House of Commons. The news came as the Bermuda Government waits on a decision by John Rankin, the Governor, on the Domestic Partnership Act 2017. The legislation, designed to replace same-sex marriage with civil unions, was passed by MPs last month, but Mr Rankin has yet to give it Royal Assent and sign it into law. Former attorney-general Mark Pettingill said yesterday that, from a constitutional perspective, it was “appropriate” and “proper” for the UK debate to take place. He added he hoped it would lead to a “consensus in the British Parliament that surely has to carry some weight”. Political commentator Charles Jeffers said Britain should stay out of the internal affairs of a self-governing territory, even if it remained under UK sovereignty. Mr Jeffers said he doubted if the debate was “going to go anywhere”. He added: “To me, it’s the fact that they have the audacity to discuss it, to even bring it up. It’s nothing but irritating.” Same-sex marriage has been legal in Bermuda since the Supreme Court ruled in May last year that it was discriminatory to deny gay couples the right to wed. The judgment was the result of a lawsuit brought by gay couple Winston Godwin and Greg DeRoche against the Registrar-General’s decision to refuse to post their wedding banns. The Progressive Labour Party, in its General Election manifesto, underlined its opposition to gay marriage, but pledged to introduce legislation to give same-sex couples “similar legal benefits as heterosexual couples”. Walton Brown. the Minister of Home Affairs, tabled the Domestic Partnership Bill after the party’s election win last summer and it was approved by both the House of Assembly and the Senate in December. The move sparked international headlines and overseas media reported that Bermuda would become the first country in the world to reverse marriage equality. Mr Bryant, a former Church of England priest who entered into a civil union with his same-sex partner in 2010, raised the Bermuda decision in the House of Commons earlier this month and told MPs the island was taking an “entirely retrograde step”. He called on Boris Johnson, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, to “make sure that the Government tells the Bermudian (Parliament very firmly ‘no way, we are sticking with same-sex marriage’.” Mr Jeffers, who said he opposed same-sex marriage but saw the Domestic Partnership Act as a suitable “compromise”, said he was not surprised the Westminster debate was to happen but that he was against it. He said: “Bermuda is a self-governing country. Britain has enough of their own problems to deal with. Why in the world do they feel the need to get involved in Bermuda’s internal situations?” Mr Jeffers added Britain’s House of Lords last week debated — and rejected — legislation designed to force Bermuda and other overseas territories to make their registers of beneficial ownership of companies public. He asked: “How much of this should we take?” Mr Jeffers said: “Britain does not financially assist us. It seems to me that whether they realize it or not, they are trying to say to these countries [the British Overseas Territories] that ‘we really don’t want you’.” Former One Bermuda Alliance MP Mr Pettingill, who represented Mr Godwin and Mr DeRoche in their civil case, said: “Not only am I not surprised, I’m very pleased to see that the debate is being taken up at the highest level in Parliament in England. “It’s not only a matter of interest in Bermuda but, because of the aspects of our Constitution as they relate to assent and because of the international obligations to human rights that exist in the United Kingdom, it naturally becomes a public interest issue in the United Kingdom. I think it’s fair enough, I think it’s appropriate, I think it’s proper. That’s a constitutional view and what our Constitution dictates.” He added that he expected Mr Rankin to delay his decision on the legislation until after the debate. Mr Pettingill said: “He’s well entitled to sit on it. The Constitution allows him to do that. I’m sure he’s waiting for full consideration from the perspective of UK law and Parliament.” A Government House spokesman confirmed yesterday that the Bill was still under consideration by Mr Rankin. Home affairs minister Mr Brown declined to comment.
January 24. Bermuda has reason to share the optimism of business leaders around the world and focus on the opportunities that global economic growth is bringing. That is the view of Arthur Wightman, PwC Bermuda leader, who was speaking after PwC’s global survey of nearly 1,300 CEOs showed record-breaking levels of optimism about the economic environment. “CEOs are optimistic because there are tangible signals in the global economy that opportunity abounds. Most of the world’s major economies are experiencing positive growth in contrast to the case just a few years ago. International and local business leaders, the Government and the people of Bermuda should also feel optimistic. There is much to be excited about and if we can choose to focus on the opportunities in front of us and rise to meet our own high expectations, we can transform our organisations to deliver strong business results in the new environment of fast-shifting customer expectations, and technological and regulatory disruption.” The survey, released today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, showed that 57 per cent of business leaders say they believe global economic growth will improve in the next 12 months. That’s almost twice the level of last year (29 per cent) and the largest increase since professional-services firm PwC began asking about global growth in 2012. However, job security in an age of digital and automation transformation emerges as an issue — most notably for those working in financial services, Bermuda’s dominant industry. The survey found 24 per cent of banking, capital markets and insurance CEOs plan workforce reductions, with 28 per cent of banking and capital markets jobs likely to be lost to a large extent because of technology and automation. Mr Wightman said: “Governments, communities, and businesses need to truly partner to match talent with opportunity, and that means new approaches to educating students and training workers in the fields that will matter in a technology-enabled job market. It also means encouraging and creating opportunities for the workforce to retrain and learn new skills throughout their careers.” The broader picture was brighter on the jobs front with only 18 per cent of CEOs expecting to reduce their headcount. Healthcare (71 per cent), technology (70 per cent), business services (67 per cent), communications (60 per cent) and hospitality and leisure (59 per cent) are among the sectors with the highest demand for new recruits. CEOs say that helping employees retrain, and increasing transparency on how automation and AI could impact jobs is becoming a more important issue for them. Two thirds of CEOs believe they have a responsibility to retrain employees whose roles are replaced by technology, chiefly among the engineering and construction (73 per cent), Technology (71 per cent) and communications (77 per cent) sectors. In the US, CEOs’ confidence has recovered. After election nerves last year, the early focus on regulation and tax reform by the new administration has seen confidence in business growth prospects for the year ahead rising significantly — from 39 per cent in 2017 to 52 per cent in 2018. And North America is the only region where a majority of CEOs are “very confident” about their own 12-month prospects. Despite the optimism in the global economy, anxiety is rising on a much broader range of business, social and economic threats. CEOs are “extremely concerned” about geopolitical uncertainty (40 per cent), cyber threats (40 per cent), terrorism (41 per cent), availability of key skills (38 per cent) and populism (35 per cent). These threats outpace familiar concerns about business growth prospects such as exchange rate volatility (29 per cent) and changing consumer behavior (26 per cent). PwC conducted 1,293 interviews with CEOs in 85 countries between August and November 2017. Their sample was weighted by national GDP to ensure that CEOs’ views are fairly represented across all major countries.
January 24. Bermuda has all the ingredients for success, the developer of the Azura Boutique Hotel and Residences said yesterday. “I am a huge believer in Bermuda as a product, both physically and the people,” John Bush said. “I am a believer in it and our investment team are believers in it or we wouldn’t be doing it.” Mr Bush added: “The project is challenging. The development and operating economics are challenging, which is why we have tried to create a structure that turns it a different way, something that is more easily sustainable. We have a firm belief in Bermuda and Bermuda tourism, with the knowledge that it’s difficult.” Azura, on the site of the former Surf Side Beach Club in Warwick, is expected to be open to guests early next year. Mr Bush said the present and previous governments supported the project. He also praised the Bermuda Tourism Authority and said it needed to continue its good work. Mr Bush said: “The most important thing is to effectively get the message out on the product we have, and I think the BTA has been doing an excellent job of that. They have been really focused, fishing where the fish are, and increasing awareness in those markets. I think they need to just keep hitting that drum, and be realistic about how many tourists we are going to get down here and what kind of products we can support so the properties here are successful. We also have very good airlift right now and I hope that continues.” Mr Bush added Azura’s business plan — the sale of units which owners can put back into the hotel inventory — encouraged visitors to return to the island and to bring friends. He said: “I love a product like this where people actually buy in because it ensures that they come back. Get to that base that likes it and get them to lock into Bermuda. When they buy in, they not only come themselves repeatedly, but they bring their friends and they refer their friends to their property or other hotels.” He said that some hotels had struggled with the weakened tourism industry, but insisted he was optimistic about the future of Azura. Mr Bush added: “We believe absolutely that Azura is going to work and we chose a smaller property because you can move the dial with less capital on a smaller property. With a larger property, there is so much you have to put into it before you can see the thing coming together. People love the central location, that you can get in and out of town in ten minutes, but at the same time we’re next to a nature reserve. It feels like you’re in the Grenadines or somewhere else very isolated and natural.”
Azura - see above
January 23. A former MP and Mayor of St George called yesterday for a clean-up at the nature reserve on Cooper’s Island. Kenneth Bascome warned the “national gem” was in a poor state and that more could be done to make the most out of the reserve. He said: “This is a nature reserve, but the only access to anything is on asphalt. That’s the opposite of natural. This entire area could be better kept and more people would actually use it.” The Cooper’s Island reserve in St David’s was once a Nasa tracking station and monitored space flights from 1961 to 1997. But improvements in technology led Nasa to close the site in 2001 and the property was opened as a nature reserve in 2008. Work was carried out to clean the area and remove invasive species but Mr Bascome said the reserve had become overgrown. He added: “There are lot of cedar trees there — a hundred of them, but everything around them is overgrown. Eventually, all these vines will overpower them. You can just manicure it, keep these areas up. Every time I come out here, I wonder why we have allowed this to fall into disrepair.” Mr Bascome said a major clear-up would encourage more people to take advantage of the park. He added the reserve also had several “beautiful” beaches but the condition of the area meant they were little used. Mr Bascome said: “I think if this area was cleaned up a bit, you would see a lot more people coming to utilize it. That would also help to alleviate the strain on Clearwater because if you come here on a national holiday, that beach is bustling. It would also help to encourage people to keep it clean. I believe people would be less likely to throw their litter if it wasn’t so overgrown. If you clean it up, people would be more responsible.” The Department of Parks did not respond to a request for comment.
January 22. Bermudian singer, songwriter and music producer Steve Easton died on Friday at the age of 54 after suffering from complications related to diabetes. The father of three recorded Beyoncé when she took part in the Bermuda Music Festival in 2008, collaborated with David Bowie on a number of songs while the British star lived on the island and recorded voice-over actors for the 2005 Star Wars movie Revenge of the Sith. Described as a humble man, the owner and producer of Just Platinum studio never forgot his roots and was always on hand to help aspiring locals make their way in music, production and recording. Aside from his love for music, Mr Easton was a family man. His brother, Mikko Ingham, said: “My greatest memories of Steve would be outside the music. I enjoyed my brother for the family man he was and he really enjoyed family gatherings and talking about old times. I will really miss that. I used to make it a point that every Friday I would go to the studio and would be there for two or three hours just talking because that’s what he loved to do.” Mr Easton’s other brother Shondell described him as “a big brother I looked up to”. He said: “I was always proud of his accomplishments. He was a big influence on me. I do music as well and he taught me everything I know in that world. I’m a producer and recording engineer for Just Platinum. Steve was a very charismatic person. He was extremely knowledgeable about recording and the whole music world. He was always trying to figure out how electronics worked. When he was young, he got a radio as a present and he took it apart to see how it worked. A large portion of people in Bermuda that have recording set ups were helped by Steve. I used to see people come to the studio to pick his brain. I used to tell him that they want to become your competition, but he would give them the information anyway and they would set up as his competition.” Mr Easton came from a musical family. His mother, Gloria, was a choir director for the Southampton Seventh-day Adventist Church, his father Raymond sang as does his sister Lisa Smith. He attended Atlantic Union College in Boston in the 1980s before studying accounting at York University in Canada. After graduating, he went on to study recording engineering at the Trebas Institute in Toronto. He then joined what was to become Canada’s most popular gospel band, Selection, which toured Canada and the US. Mr Easton’s first recording studio was StudioVII, which he set up in Toronto with Tim Fray in 1992. He moved to Bermuda in 1998 and opened Just Platinum studio, where he worked with many musical legends including David Bowie, with whom he made regular recordings in the early 2000s. He also recorded Catherine Zeta Jones’s voice-overs for her T-Mobile adverts and wrote advertisements for corporations on the island. Glenn Blakeney, the founder of Bermuda Soul Records and chairman of Inter-Island Communications, worked closely with Mr Easton and said the news of his passing was “devastating” for the island. “He was one of the most selfless people that I know,” Mr Blakeney said. “He was always willing to assist particularly those who were aspiring to be in the music industry. We go back many years and started our writing and producing jingles together. He was a consummate professional and very knowledgeable about the music industry. He has worked with so many different people. He did a master class seminar along with Orville Malcolm and Bruce Swedien, who is renowned for being the engineer on all Michael Jackson produced by Quincy Jones. Bruce had offered the chance to do an audio engineering class with him in Florida. They were selected among seven or eight people around the world to attend and were graded highest among those who attended the class. He was an unsung hero, he was humble, he just went very quietly about doing what he did best to help other people in their musical aspirations.” Elmore Warren, owner of Fresh TV, described Mr Easton as a world-class singer with a commitment to high-quality music. Mr Warren said: “The nice thing is, he has a legacy that time is never going to forget.” DJ Jason Ford, also known as Jugglin Jason, said Mr Easton was instrumental in helping him. He said: “I’ve known Steve for more than 20 years. Obviously we found that we both had a common interest when it came to music. He revolutionized production here on the island. He was always willing to sacrifice his time even though you may have been in competition with him.” Mr Easton leaves behind his wife Shevy, his daughters Loren “Bunni” Ramey, Tia Easton and Stephanie Easton, his brothers Shondell Easton and Mikko Ingham, and his sister Lisa Smith.
January 22. Flora Duffy is leading the call to encourage volunteers to get involved in the ITU World Triathlon Series being held in Hamilton. Ms Duffy said: “These events take enormous effort to organize. As athletes, we can’t appreciate enough the support of those who give their time and become involved.” Three public information sessions this week will provide details on the triathlon event. The one-hour presentations will provide details on the racecourse, festival events calendar, road closures and traffic management. The presentations are:
All run from 5.30pm to 7pm. Members of the public interested in participating can RSVP at gotobermuda.com/bta. Information on volunteering for the event can be found at bermuda.triathlon.org/volunteer. The triathlon series takes place in Hamilton from April 26 to April 29.
January 22. You could have your cousin’s wedding or your auntie’s funeral — it doesn’t matter, you have to play the gig. Commitment sits at the heart of the band’s ethos since Red Hot Chilli Pipers began 15 years ago. Then five members, now a rotating group of 25, the rock n roll bagpipers played two sold-out shows this weekend as part of The Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts. “In the very early days, it was called an open diary policy — if a gig comes in you have to clear your diary,” co-founder Kevin MacDonald told Lifestyle. “We all agreed to it. It was the only way for us to grow.” They found moderate success early on, booking 30 shows in a year. Then in 2007 they took part in BBC talent show When Will I be Famous?, and won. “All of a sudden we got catapulted into the public world so we had to increase the size of the band,” Mr MacDonald said. They now tour as a party of 13 — nine on stage; four support. The business has also changed “remarkably”. The band’s annual gross revenue is roughly $1.5 million and where it was once “very hard” to get musicians, today’s list of hopefuls is long. “At the start we were seen very much as a joke act among the bag-piping fraternity and traditionalists,” Mr MacDonald said. Their 187 shows last year included Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles, Malaysia, France, Germany and Spain. Mr MacDonald did not play them all. “That would be impossible,” he said. “We noticed fairly quickly that the customer experience wasn’t affected. It proved that the product was more about the music — the black kilts, the red sporrans, the look. [We] almost became the Blue Man Group of bagpipes. There have been various opportunities to move, but fundamentally the Chilli Pipers is based in Scotland and it will always be based in Scotland. We’ve got a great quality of life that we can leave Scotland behind for a couple of weeks and then come back to it.” The 39-year-old hails from Aberdeen, where he got his start in music. “The local community had a Boys’ Brigade and they had a pipe band as part of that. It was as simple as that,” he remembered. “My dad got relocated to the Glasgow area and I joined the local pipe band.” He started Red Hot Chilli Pipers with Stuart Cassells, William Armstrong, Malcolm McEwan and Steven Graham. The friends owned a company, Scottish Bagpiper, that provided pipers for weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals and corporate events. “It was really Stuart’s brainchild and my background of being an accountant — I deal with the business side of it,” said Mr MacDonald. They added drummers to get the rock n roll sound that became their signature and labelled themselves a “corporate band”, playing at company events. “We all had day jobs at that point and this was just a bit of extra income,” said the father-of-three who still runs an accountancy practice and is the finance director for five companies. I’m a very busy individual but it was always driven by fear that tomorrow might be my last gig. So I have a back up plan.” He believes it’s the mix of rock and traditional music that sets them apart. "There are bands out there that will take rock songs and put them onto bagpipes; there are people that will take traditional music and put a rock beat behind it. Again, nothing new. We take the rock song and the traditional song and merge them. We will play the chorus line of Don’t Stop Believing and then we’ll break into a 16-bar jig and start jumping with the crowd and then we’ll come back to the song. It is good family entertainment. My overriding aim when I put on a concert is that the people leave feeling happy. It will put a smile on your face.”
January 22. Opinion, by Deborah Middleton, former chief executive of the Bermuda International Business Association, and the author of two published murder mysteries, Square Snapper and Never too Dead to Talk, with a third to be published shortly. "There has been a lot of discussion recently about pensions. Trust me, there will be a lot more in the future. Most government pension systems are no more than a Ponzi scheme — a promise of money at a future time in exchange for payment today. You are not buying a service or a product, just a “promise”: hence it is a “scheme” and, in fact, would be illegal, except ... it’s the Government. Make no mistake, governments would prefer that we all die off tidily at an appropriate age to ensure that the pyramid stays pointed at the top and broad at the bottom — full of young and middle-aged, income-producing individuals at the bottom of the ladder to pay for those at the top. What could possibly go wrong? Various reasons, one being that people are refusing to die on cue. We are living longer and costing more as we age. We have just been through one of the worst recessions ever ... the new potential income-producers were struggling to find work. Those already in work were getting laid off. Suddenly, the stable pyramid began to wobble as it took on a dangerously new shape: narrowing at the bottom and staying the same at the top. Heaven forbid it should topple over. What do governments do? They simply change the goalposts and increase the retirement age. But where it gets really absurd is when it comes to the workplace pension. Bermuda prides itself as an international financial centre. I should know; I spent my time promoting it over ten years back as chief executive of the former Bermuda International Business Association. It boasts a sensible, flexible approach to international business, and the regulation and legislation to go with it. However, much like the cobbler who neglects his own children’s shoes, the local Pensions Act lets some Bermudians down ... and badly. Flexibility: zero. You and your employer pay into a private pension throughout your career and are then forced to purchase an annuity — effectively an insurance policy that pays out a sum each year calculated on your retirement savings and estimated life span. This works fine if you have been paid well in Bermuda during a long working life and have amassed a tidy sum that will give you a meaningful payout each year. In other countries you have options. In Britain, for example, you can now take out that pension as a lump sum and invest it as you wish. Sensible: less than zero Where the Pensions Act fails particularly miserably is in the case where Bermudians have not amassed a huge sum for one reason or another: their salary may have never been very high, they may have lived overseas for part/most of their careers, they may have lost a chunk of change from their pension during the recession ... or even all of the above. What happens is that the yearly payment is so low, so utterly meaningless, that it is of no use to anyone alive. Other countries have sensible “triviality thresholds”. This means a person can take their pension out as a lump sum if it is below a certain amount. The British threshold used to be £30,000 before it was scrapped altogether. Bermuda’s present triviality threshold is $10,000 — absurd in the extreme. Someone with a workplace pension of $15,000 may as well write it off. In fact, someone with a $50,000 pension may as well write it off as money denied them by the Government because an annuity of $50,000 would amount to about $2,000 a year. What’s that? A weekend in New York or, broken down, about enough for a monthly cut-and-colour at your favorite hair salon, or maybe enough for a couple of bags of groceries each week. In other words, it’s of no use to you alive. The argument is that Bermudians are “unsophisticated” — a polite term in the business world for “stupid”. If allowed to take our money out as a lump sum, as they can in Britain, we will blow it all and end up on welfare. The fact is, with an annuity that is peanuts, we will end up on welfare anyway. This argument does not hold water. People in Britain took their pensions and paid off mortgages, added value to their homes by renovating them, paid to get their grandchildren on the property ladder ... they did not, as predicted, treat that money as a lottery win. We Bermudians deserve the same trust. The Pensions Committee and the new government have an opportunity, indeed a duty, to breathe fresh air into an Act that is prejudicial to a cross-section of Bermudians. It is not difficult to look at what Britain has done. After all, our laws are based on British Common Law that is much respected by international business. What the Act requires is a commonsense approach and flexibility. New options need to be considered. The Pensions Commission needs to take a long, hard look at remedying situations where a person’s workplace pension is of no use to them alive. That is not what it was designed for and clearly is untenable. If your workplace pension is only of use to your beneficiaries when you are dead, ie, effectively a life insurance policy, then speak to your MP or write to the Pensions Commissioner. It is time we took control of what is, effectively, our hard-earned savings. In turn, I see this as an excellent opportunity for the new government to make its mark by taking positive and immediate steps to address what is patently nonsensical."
January 20. Real estate brokers who trade without a valid licence are breaking the law, Government warned today. The Superintendent of Real Estate said failure to renew licences for the 2017-18 period while continuing to trade is an offence under the Real Estate Brokers’ Licensing Act. Offenders could face a fine of $10,000 and two years in jail. Information on how to apply for a real estate licence and application forms can be found at www.gov.bm. Questions about the application process can be sent to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 20. Specialists in heart and lung problems are to visit the island this month. Ofer Sagiv, an expert in heart medicine, will be at Northshore Medical & Aesthetics Centre from January 27 to 29, and Maciej Walczyszyn, who specializes in lung and critical care medicine, will be at the practice from January 26 to 29. Dr Sagiv is a vascular cardiologist in Connecticut, and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including the University of Connecticut Health Centre, John Dempsey Hospital and Yale-New Haven Hospital. He received his medical degree from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Dr Walczyszyn is a pulmonary and critical care medicine board-certified physician. He received his degree from Poznan University of Medical Science in Poland and is director of the pulmonary and critical care medicine division at Flushing Hospital Medical Centre. Dr Sagiv will see patients with shortness of breath, oedema, chest pain, palpitations, history of heart failure, heart attack or stoke, peripheral arterial disease and non-healing wounds of the lower extremities. Dr Walczyszyn will see patients with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, bronchitis or bronchiectasis, chronic cough, interstitial lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary embolism, sleep apnoea and lung cancer. Both doctors will only see patients by referral. For more information, contact Northshore Medical & Aesthetics Centre on 293-5476.
January 20. The Bermuda Public Services Union has mounted a defence of civil servants, including health regulators accused by Ewart Brown of targeting his medical practice. Edward Ball, general secretary of the BPSU, said: “The union takes exception to the recent comments made in the public domain by some politicians and others that attempt to give a broad-brush characterization and spin to denigrate the role and function of officers in civil and public service.” Mr Ball was speaking after public servants at the Bermuda Health Council were attacked by Dr Brown, the former premier, at a press conference on Wednesday outside his Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s. He was also reacting to criticism after it was announced that the dual-role post of Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service, held by Derrick Binns, was to be split into two. Dr Brown singled out officials at the BHeC, including Jennifer Attride-Stirling, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, who was chief executive officer at the BHeC when charges for treatment were considered. The clinic announced that it was to close its high-tech, computerized X-ray service at the end of the month because of government-imposed cuts in fees. Dr Brown told supporters at the press conference: “Remember these names. Jennifer Attride-Stirling, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health. Tawanna Wedderburn, CEO of the health council, and Ricky Braithwaite, so-called health economist”. He added: “I want you to remember those names.” Mr Ball said: “Civil servants and public officers are entitled to due process and should never be exposed to the vagaries of a political witch-hunt or campaign of belittlement, defamation and vilification. Nor should civil servants and public officers be scapegoated for the purposes of political expediency.” Dr Brown also highlighted Trevor Moniz, the former attorney-general under the One Bermuda Alliance, and his legal consultant, Richard Ambrosio. Mr Ball’s defence of public servants came after Dr Binns slammed “unfortunate and inappropriate” remarks about senior public officers this week. Dr Binns also criticized “remarks and insinuations” made after the decision to split his job into two roles drew a backlash from the Opposition. He added: “The rules under which public officers are required to work prohibit them from speaking publicly and as a result they are voiceless in the face of public, often unsubstantiated and unwarranted, attacks. This does not give anyone the right to malign the personal or professional reputation of any public officer.” Dr Brown told the press conference that, at a 2013 meeting with Ms Attride-Stirling, he was warned that the BHeC aimed to cut healthcare costs and would start with diagnostic imaging. He added: “I said, Why are you picking on us? And she said, quote, because you are low-hanging fruit.” One of Brown’s supporters said: “We’ve got to get her.” Dr Brown added: “And she kept her promise. Kept working, kept working, and finally she found a government, and it’s not the PLP government, she finally found an OBA government that was sympathetic and loved the idea of putting Dr Brown out of business. So this time she was able to succeed, and that is what has happened.”
January 20. A total of 15 cases of cervical cancer were reported in Bermuda last year, a Department of Health spokeswoman revealed last night. The news came as the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre asked women to get screened for the disease and reminded parents to make sure their children are vaccinated against the Human Papilloma Virus, which can cause cervical cancer. The health department spokeswoman said: “There were 15 reported cases of cervical cancer in Bermuda last year and six reported cases of mouth, throat, oesophagus and nasal cancer related to the HPV virus. Cervical cancer screening by way of a Pap smear is a way to prevent cervical cancer. Women should be aware of this and understand the difference between screening for cervical cancer and screening for sexually transmitted infections.” Azuree Williams, BCHC education co-ordinator, added: “We are really looking at women taking better care of their health because cervical cancer is preventable, based on women getting regular screenings. When we are looking at cervical cancers, it is definitely one of the most common cancers. Most cervical cancers are caused by HPV, which is why the screenings are encouraged so that women get Pap-tested every three years.” She also recommended that women get regular Pap and HPV tests at the age of 30 and that parents get their sons and daughters vaccinated against HPV at ages 11 and 12. The spokeswoman for the Department of Health added that vaccinations are available through doctors’ offices or free at government health centres. She said: “The vaccine is part of the routine childhood schedule for immunization. HPV vaccination is important because once full immunity is reached, it can protect against the HPV viruses most likely to cause cervical cancer.” Because HPV is sexually transmitted, Ms Williams also urged people to use condoms to avoid contracting the virus, which is also linked to vaginal cancer in women and mouth, throat and penis cancers in men. Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre will highlight the disease and its prevention at a public meeting next week organized with the Ministry of Health as the island marks Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Ms Williams said cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women but added that there are no accurate figures for Bermuda because reporting is not mandatory. She added: “We’ve had several survivors. Looking at the death rate, it is highest in black women. “A lot of this is attributed to optimal healthcare. If women who are in lower income families or they don’t have adequate health insurance, they are not getting regularly checked and that’s when you tend to find cervical cancer, a lot of the times it’s advanced and it’s too late.” She added that all women are at risk, irrespective of race or ethnicity. Ms Williams said major symptoms, including abnormal vaginal bleeding, unusual vaginal discharge and pain during sex usually occur when the cancer is advanced. “If they catch it early, they have a higher survival rate, as is the case with any cancer. “Pap tests are so quick. There may be a little discomfort but it’s over and done with pretty quickly.” Ms Williams said other preventive measures include regular exercise, a healthy diet, quitting smoking and a reduction in alcohol consumption.
January 20. Customs officers will raise awareness of their role ahead of International Customs Day on Friday. Collector of Customs, Lucinda Pearman, invited people to take part in activities which include an open house, church service and the Colin Smith Run, Walk, Ride Fun Race. Mrs Pearman said: “The Customs Department continues to play an important role in the Bermuda economy and our mission is to promote compliance with Bermuda’s customs laws through quality service and responsible enforcement, thereby contributing to the economic and social stability of our community. Our staff and officers are responsible for facilitating trade, assessing and collecting revenue and interdicting drugs and other contraband.”
January 20. Hollywood star Michael Douglas has been accused of sexual harassment by a former employee. Author and journalist Susan Braudy told The Hollywood Reporter that Mr Douglas’s alleged treatment left her feeling “humiliated”. Ms Braudy’s claims came a little more than a week after Mr Douglas, who has close family and property links to Bermuda, issued a pre-emptive denial of the claims. Mr Douglas, a frequent visitor to the island, and the son of Bermudian Diana Dill and Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, has described the allegations against him as “a complete lie, fabrication, with no truth in it whatsoever”. Ms Braudy worked for Mr Douglas’s company, Stonebridge Productions, in the late 1980s. She claimed he used sexual language in front of her, including discussing extramarital affairs, while she was running the firm’s New York office. Ms Braudy alleged that Douglas commented on her body, which forced her to resort to wearing loose, dark clothing. She also alleged he performed a sexual act in front of her during a one-on-one script meeting in his apartment in 1989, and that she rushed out feeling humiliated. Ms Braudy said: “I realized he thought he could do anything he wanted because he was so much more powerful than I was.” She added that she ran home and vowed never to be alone with him again. Ms Braudy finished work with Stonebridge later that year. Mr Douglas, who spoke to the US online entertainment magazine Deadline this month to deny the claims, said: “I pride myself on my reputation in this business, not to mention the long history of my father and everything else. I don’t have skeletons in my closet, or anyone else who’s coming out or saying this. I’m bewildered why, after 32 years, this is coming out now.” He also claimed there is no evidence against him and that he feared that such accusations could set back the #MeToo movement that has grown in the wake of the Hollywood sexual harassment scandal. Efforts to reach Mr Douglas by The Royal Gazette for further comment were unsuccessful.
January 19. The Bermuda Airport Authority has opened new offices at Southside in St David’s.
From left above, Ian MacIntyre, Robert Steynor, Marshall Minors, CEO Lester Nelson, Walter Roban, Deputy Premier and Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, chairman Mark Fields, deputy chairman Andrew Parsons, Judith Hall-Bean, Lawrence Scott (Photograph supplied).
Mark Fields, chairman of the organisation tasked to oversee the management, operations and redevelopment of the airport, said: “Our organisation is less than a year old. “We essentially started from nothing, but we are pleased with the leadership of the Authority’s chief executive officer, Lester Nelson, in moving quickly to establish a strong, experienced team of aviation, engineering and financial professionals, as well as internationally recognized technical advisers to oversee Bermuda’s interests in this large and important infrastructure project.” The Authority, which owns the airport on behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda, was established on March 2 last year. It was set up to ensure contractual value is delivered throughout the 30-year public-private partnership with Bermuda Skyport Corporation. The authority’s responsibilities also include air traffic control, meteorological services, aeronautical information services, and airport rescue and firefighting. The Authority is also responsible for regulating fees and charges. Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, said: “I’m delighted to join the Bermuda Airport Authority board and staff in welcoming stakeholders this afternoon. I’m happy to say that the authority has moved quickly to position themselves in this important role. The LF Wade International Airport is Bermuda’s only air link to the rest of the world and therefore it is vital to our economic lifeblood, essential to international business and tourism. We are happy to have these highly qualified Bermudians involved in the protection of our collective interests.”
January 19. A former Cold War submarine tracking base is in line to get a new lease of life. The Bermuda Land Development Company has asked for expressions of interest to redevelop the ex-US Navy site at Tudor Hill in Southampton.
US Navy buildings at Tudor Hill, Southampton
Francis Mussenden, chief executive office at the BLDC said: “We’re looking for innovative and imaginative development approaches that align with our long-term strategy to revitalize Tudor Hill.” The BLDC said the Exchange of Information was designed to “gather ideas and approaches” for development. Once a preferred use or development idea has been selected, a request for proposal could be submitted. Kim Smith, executive director for the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce said: “BEST supports sustainable development, recognizing that preserving finite and precious virgin land in Bermuda is always a perfectly acceptable and valuable option. We will look forward to the BLDC keeping the public apprised of the process.” Jonathan Starling, executive director of environmental charity Greenrock, added he hoped that any development allowed the Tudor Hill Marine Atmospheric Observatory to continue to operate on the site. He said: “The observatory is one of the longest-running centres of atmospheric ocean chemistry in the world, providing world-class research. While the research in itself may not be profitable in the short-term sense, the research conducted there is invaluable to the advancing of human knowledge in the field of oceanic atmospheric studies.” Mr Starling said a solar farm could be a useful addition to the site, along with a memorial to detail its long military history. He added: “Tudor Hill was the site of fortifications throughout its history and the ruins of these forts remain. We could see a tourism attraction there along these lines, along with a solar farm and the continued use of the site for scientific research.” The 25-acre site, next to the Pompano Beach Club, was once home to a US Navy detachment and part of the Sound Surveillance System, known as Sosus. Sosus monitored a deep-sea network of listening posts to track the movement of Soviet submarines in the Atlantic. Tudor Hill remained in service until the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s. It closed in 1992 after 37 years of operation and the land was handed back to the Bermuda Government three years later. Pompano Beach Club expressed interest in buying the land for expansion in 2013, but the plan was later dropped. Anyone interested in the site should contact email@example.com or visit the BLDC office at Triton House in St David’s to pick up a copy of the EOI guidelines, which detail the requirements and selection criteria. All submissions must be received by 4pm on Thursday, February 8.
January 18. It will take about two weeks for the island’s newest bus to hit the roads, a government spokesman has said.
He added that the vehicle, which was brought in on the Oleander container ship on Tuesday, was cleared by Customs and handed over to the Department of Public Transportation. The spokesman said: “It takes about two weeks for a new bus to become fleet-ready through in-house preparations after being cleared by Bermuda Customs and licensed by the Transport Control Department.” He added that the engine and chassis for the new bus was procured from MAN Truck & Bus Company in Germany. “It was then built by MOBIpeople, a company located in Coimbra, Portugal. The new bus looks similar to the 2014 series but has quality improvements, many of which were through feedback from DPT staff, and some, through recommendations from MAN and MOBI. The new buses have room for 39 passengers, up by one on the older models. There is also improved air-conditioning and lighting and a better bell system. Other improvements include more access compartments for vehicle maintenance.” The spokesman said members of the DPT’s technical team traveled to Portugal to inspect and approve the bus. And he added that the DPT “expects to take possession of three more buses by early May, if not sooner”.
January 18. Dr. Ewart Brown, owner of a clinic that is to discontinue its high-tech computerized X-ray service, turned up the heat yesterday on the Bermuda Health Council, which he blames for the closure of the service. Dr Brown, the former premier, said the end of CT scanning at the Brown-Darrell clinic could mean the loss of four jobs. He added the service at the Smith’s clinic would close at the end of the month because of a BHeC decision to cut fees. Dr Brown said the council, set up to monitor and improve island healthcare services, had been “functioning as a collection agency for the insurance companies”. He added that the decision was part of a sustained “political attack”. Dr Brown said the Brown-Darrell service complemented CT scanning available at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. “It’s been a very good arrangement, and for the same fee that the hospital has paid,” said Dr Brown. Dr Brown was flanked by Progressive Labour Party MPs and Jerome Lynch QC as he addressed a group of supporters outside the clinic. Mr Lynch said that there appeared to have been “some sort of targeting by the council”. He added that BHeC had cut diagnostic imaging fees “without any consultation”. Mr Lynch said: “Having come up with a figure, they decided to slash that even more.” New charges that came into effect last year has had a major effect on fees for CT imaging. Prices for one type of scan fell from $1,441 to $383, while another dropped from $1,543 to $542. Dr Brown said the BHeC had been put in place under a PLP government but that he had warned colleagues that “unless it is very carefully crafted, it’s going to be a problem”. He added: “Just as lawyers would not like it if a non-legal person were in charge of regulating them, doctors feel that those that regulate us should be doctors.” Dr Brown said several of BHeC’s proposals over the years had been “rejected by the public”. He highlighted a push for medical pre-certification, as well as tighter insurance regulations for mammograms, a proposal which was dropped after protests in June 2015. Dr Brown claimed BHeC had found the former One Bermuda Alliance administration to be one that “loved the idea of putting Dr Brown out of business”. He added his next steps were “a moving target” and that, while he hoped the Progressive Labour Party government would be able to work with him, he was “not here to try to tell them what to do”. The Ministry of Health said yesterday that a grant had been approved for service providers “in order to help ensure CT and MRI services are readily available to the public”. The grant was assigned to the Brown-Darrell Clinic, Bermuda Healthcare Services, also owned by Dr Brown, and the Bermuda Hospitals Board. The ministry said that the previous OBA administration’s cut in fees was “significantly” larger than the technical recommendation. A later statement from the ministry said: “The actual payments will be based on services provided, therefore the exact amounts for the period of operation will not be known until the end of the fiscal year. If the level of services remained the same as last year, Brown-Darrell and Bermuda Healthcare Services would receive approximately $778,000 and BHB $1.8 million. Bermuda currently has three CT scanners, placing us above the OECD average and among the highest in the world for CT scans per person.”
January 18. A committee set up to inquire into a 2016 demonstration that saw protesters pepper-sprayed by police has started its work. The December 2, 2016 protest against the public-private partnership deal for the redevelopment of LF Wade International Airport turned violent when police officers clashed with demonstrators who blocked entry to the House of Assembly. At least 26 complaints were made to the Police Complaints Authority by members of the public in the wake of the protest. The BPS said 14 of its officers were assaulted. Kim Swan, a Progressive Labour Party MP and chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee, said the seven-strong committee was “already working well together”. He added the members had “demonstrated a commitment to participate on this important committee”. Mr Swan, MP for St George’s West, said: “We are all committed to doing our best for Bermuda, and we are all committed to ensuring that any research and investigations related to this investigation are carried out with fairness and objectivity.” He said it was important that a “serious national incident” was investigated. Mr Swan added: “Our terms of reference direct us to look into the events that day, including the decision-making and any directives that may have led to the Bermuda Police Service being called out in riot gear and using incapacitant spray on citizens assembled in protest.” Mr Swan said the committee would review all evidence it was presented with. He added: “We will make our decisions and recommendations based on fact.” Joan Dillas-Wright, Senate president, Progressive Labour Party MPs Tinée Furbert, Michael Scott and Neville Tyrrell, One Bermuda Alliance MP Ben Smith, and OBA senator Andrew Simons were also chosen for the committee. The members were picked by Dennis Lister, Speaker of the House. Mr Smith said he was selected as the OBA House of Assembly member of the committee because he was not involved with the incident and would have an independent perspective. He added: “My role on the committee is to help to gather the facts so that we have an understanding of what occurred on that day. It is important because there are lots of emotions caused by that day and we need to be able to explain what happened.” Members of the public can submit statements as well as documents or records they think could assist the committee. The name, address and contact details of people who provide information must be attached to their submissions. Information can be sent by post to the House of Assembly at 21 Parliament Street, Hamilton, or delivered by hand to the Office of the Legislature at 26 Victoria Street. Submissions can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions must be received no later than 5pm on Wednesday, February 7.
January 18. Eleven people have been hired by Bermuda Skyport as the company that operates and maintains LF Wade International Airport continues to boost its workforce. Skyport also took on nine new staff last year, while 27 staff members previously transitioned to the company from the former Department of Airport Operations. Out of the 20 new hires, 17 are Bermudian and two are spouses of Bermudians. Aaron Adderley, president of Bermuda Skyport, said: “One of our goals in building Skyport was to have a full work force necessary to deliver a better product and service at the airport. “Our new hires have joined a wonderful team made up of dynamic, energetic and talented individuals who are passionate about what they do. We’re excited to have them join the team and help us to successfully complete the redevelopment project.” The maintenance division hired six new members including Joseph Butterfield, building maintenance superintendent; Wendell Dottin, airport technician plumber; Brent Searle, specialist electrical systems technician; Justin Talbot, HVAC technician; Tyler Fox, carpenter; and Shaqir Richards, mechanical technician. The technical department, which is responsible for the construction project, including design, engineering and overall construction management, added three new members to its team: Je’Shae Pace, project coordinator and one of the Aecon Bermuda interns; Moe Kamleh, technical manager; and Kahnae Bean, environment, health and safety co-ordinator. Carrie Thatcher has joined the commercial team as commercial manager. She is responsible for optimizing revenue performance and ensuring optimum customer satisfaction for internal and external customers of the airport. Strategizing for future commercial development including enhancements to existing services and development/implementation of new services also falls under her portfolio. Michael Darrell was hired as a billing specialist and replaced a consultant brought in during the transition to incorporate new finance systems. His responsibilities include invoicing the airlines, managing revenue and compiling passenger traffic statistics. While Chelsea Ray was hired as a project administration trainee for one year to assist with projects and office administration. To apply for job opportunities with Skyport, e-mail email@example.com and continue to check the Bermuda Job Board, which is operated through the Department of Workforce Development.
January 18. The Government should say if it is to create an extra $200,000-plus post with the appointment of a new Cabinet secretary, Opposition deputy leader Leah Scott said yesterday. The call came after it was announced on Monday that Derrick Binns’s job of Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service was to be split in two. Dr Binns will take on the job of Head of the Civil Service. Ms Scott said: “The Government has not indicated whether Ms Cherie Whitter, who currently serves as the Deputy Head of the Civil Service, will remain in that role. The Sage committee recommendation is that two roles — Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service — be established and that both of those positions have equal seniority. With Dr Binns assuming the role of the Head of the Civil Service, will the role of the Deputy Head of the Civil Service be redundant or will we now have three six-figure posts?” Ms Scott said. “We are asking the Government to clarify this point for the people of Bermuda because creating another six-figure position will negatively impact the public purse.” The Sage Commission, set up to assess government efficiency, recommended in 2013 that Dr Binns’s job should be split and that the senior role of Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet should be abolished. The Government has failed to answer questions about whether it will shed another top-tier job to cut the cost to taxpayers. The new Cabinet secretary will be paid the same as Dr Binns, almost $210,000 per year. What is not clear is the cost of the changes. The Government has refused to answer questions posed by The Royal Gazette on that matter. If the Deputy Head of the Civil Service role remains, the decision to split the top job in two will mean the public will foot the bill for another $209,894 post. If the Government makes the post redundant, the additional cost to the public purse will be less than $20,000 a year. The position of Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet no longer exists, according to the Cabinet Office’s organizational chart. Dr Binns’s deputy is Ms Whitter, who has been DHCS since April 2014 and earns about $192,000 a year. She is in charge of public service reform, which will become the responsibility of Dr Binns as Head of the Civil Service. Ms Whitter and Dr Binns, along with Anthony Manders, the Financial Secretary and Marc Telemaque, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of National Security, were identified in the Commission of Inquiry’s 2016 report as having failed to follow rules on government contracts along with four others who have either retired or since left the Civil Service. The independent inquiry found that the actions of Dr Binns, Ms Whitter and Mr Telemaque contributed to the overspend of $72 million of public money during the Progressive Labour Party’s previous tenure as government. The commissioners recommended the Government “urgently review” Civil Service personnel by conducting a “frank, independent assessment of whether all current leaders of the Civil Service have appropriate skill sets, perspective and motivation to effect needed change”. They added: “If not, ascertain whether this can be improved with training.” The Royal Gazette asked the Cabinet Office if the review had been carried out and for the results of the review if completed, but the request was refused. A spokeswoman said: “Identifying and hiring the next Secretary to the Cabinet is the responsibility of the Public Service Commission. Other than this, we will not comment on human resources matters.” Ms Whitter, Mr Telemaque and Mr Manders, who are among the top figures in the public service, could be under consideration for the post of Secretary to the Cabinet. A question to the Cabinet Office about whether the commission’s findings would rule them out also got no response.
January 18. The West Indian Association has raised more than $140,000 to support the disaster-struck Caribbean, but the campaign isn’t over yet. The organisation said they were grateful to see Bermudians come out in force to support their Caribbean neighbors. Susan Moore-Williams, WIA vice-president, said: “The support has been wonderful, not only in terms of cash, but also in terms of volunteers. People volunteer their time. We had people who had significant birthdays ask their friends to give donations instead of gifts. We have also had organisation that have had fundraising efforts to benefit this.” Mrs Moore-Williams also announced that the WIA had identified several charitable projects in Dominica, Barbuda and the British Virgin Islands which will be supported by the campaign. She said the funds will go towards housing reconstruction, children’s projects and financial assistance to help offset living expenses for Barbudians displaced by Hurricane Irma. Among the organisations to receive funding are Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Adopt a Roof, the East Dominica Children’s Federation and the West Dominica Children’s Federation. The Caribbean Relief Campaign was launched in September 2017 after the Caribbean was struck by both Hurricane Irma and Jose. The storms caused massive damage in the region, destroying thousands of homes and plunging others into darkness. While numerous international agencies are working to bring a degree of normality to the region, Mrs Moore-Williams said relief efforts in some areas remain slow. “Some countries are doing better than others. When coming to the decision about who we would assist at this time, we did look at the progress that is being made. In Dominica, communications in some places are still spotty. Massive reconstruction needs to be done in areas. In some areas, like Tortola, the population has been significantly reduced. In Barbuda the population is still basically non-existent. People have had to relocate. There is still a great deal of work to be done.” Mrs Moore-Williams said the WIA hosted a series of events to help raise funds, including the Caribbean Summer Cruise, the Give from the Heart telethon and a family fun day. Meanwhile other organisations held their own events in support of the campaign. So far, she said $140,617.52 had been raised, but the WIA hopes to see that figure rise. On January 27, the WIA will be hosting a fundraising takeout lunch, Caribbean Fusion 2 Go, offering a feast of Caribbean favorites to bolster the campaign.
January 17. Bermuda’s financial-services regulator has warned that unregulated initial coin offerings have no investor protection. The Bermuda Monetary Authority said many ICOs — the name given to launches of new cryptocurrencies or tokens — fell outside its regulatory boundaries. “At this time, these forms of investment vehicles are not subject to prudential regulation, which among other things requires regulated entities to hold sufficient capital and have adequate risk controls in place,” the BMA stated. “The BMA encourages the investing public to be prudent and mindful of their accountability for their actions in this increasingly fast-moving and complex landscape.” The BMA’s statement comes against a backdrop of growing cryptocurrency activity on the island. The Bermuda Government has launched a cryptocurrency initiative is under the direction of Wayne Caines, Minister of National Security. A two-pronged task force was announced in November, with one team exploring business development opportunities, and the other dealing with legal and regulatory matters. Last week, the sports gaming site FaceOff announced that its new token iCash would be launched through a Bermuda company. This after another token for an e-sports start-up was launched through Unikrn Bermuda Ltd in October last year. And Horizon, a company planning to launch a wireless internet service on the island, is aiming to raise capital through a crowd sale of its HRZN utility tokens, set to start on January 22. The BMA stressed that regulated financial-services companies have made a commitment to adhere to market codes of practice and transparency, but “these codes do not apply to an unregulated ICO”. Whether ICOs could be regulated by the BMA could be decided only on a case-by-case basis, the BMA said, but many ICOs were unregulated because there were “no requirements with which they have to comply at this time”. It added that many ICOs were related to early-stage projects with experimental business models, while instead of a regulated prospectus, prospective investors were presented with a “white paper”. Jeremy Cox, chief executive officer of the BMA, said: “Today’s fast-paced global digital business environment needs to be accommodated for Bermuda to remain economically sound. Sometimes there may appear to be a contradiction between this fast forward new world and the BMA’s mandate to ensure that investors and other stakeholders can operate in a climate of confidence. Bermuda’s financial services industry has benefited from its reputation as a highly regulated jurisdiction and we continue to strive for global standards. We will not falter in this duty to safeguard the public and other stakeholders, but we are aware that the regulator’s role is not to stand in the way of progress.” Mr Cox added that while the BMA can create a regulatory framework that enables new business ideas, potential investors also need to take their responsibilities seriously. “Disruptive technology”, while playing an important role in the evolution of the financial-services industry did not, by its very newness, have a proven, longer-term track record, he added.
January 17. A British politician has called on Boris Johnson, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, to prevent Bermuda from taking the “entirely retrograde step” of reversing marriage equality. Chris Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda, told the House of Commons last month that Bermuda’s Parliament was “begging the foreign secretary to allow it to cancel same-sex marriage” just six months after the Supreme Court judgment which enabled gay weddings to take place. He asked that Mr Johnson, who was not present in the Commons, come “to the House to explain his policy on Bermuda”. Mr Bryant added: “Six couples have already been married, and they are to be unmarried, which surely even this Government must think is wrong. Will the minister make sure that the Government tell the Bermudan (sic) Parliament very firmly: ‘No way, we are sticking with same-sex marriage’?” Mr Bryant’s remarks were made in reference to the Domestic Partnership Act 2017, which was passed in Bermuda last month and is aimed at replacing same-sex marriage with civil unions. John Rankin, the Governor, has yet to give assent to the bill to enable it to become law. If he does, no further gay marriages will be allowed. Those that have already taken place, either in Bermuda since the May 2017 court judgment or, prior to that, elsewhere in the world, will still be deemed legal marriages on the island. Asked for comment on Mr Bryant’s remarks, a spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said yesterday: “The UK Government is a proud supporter of LGBT rights and supports same-sex marriage. While the UK Government is disappointed with the implications of this Bill, this is a matter for the Bermuda Government acting within the terms of the Bermuda Constitution and in accordance with international law.” Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, declined to comment, as did Mr Rankin. A Government House spokesman said: “The Governor is considering the Bill in accordance with Section 35(2) of the Constitution. In considering the Bill, he has taken legal advice.” Gay marriage became legal in the UK, apart from in Northern Ireland, in 2014. Previously, civil partnerships had been available since 2005 and couples in civil partnerships could convert those unions into legal marriages after a clause in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force. Mr Bryant, a former Church of England priest, entered into a civil partnership in 2010. As of December 20, 2017, eight gay couples had married in Bermuda.
January 17. Michael Dunkley, MP, warned yesterday that a perceived move to introduce an extra senior position in the Civil Service will cost taxpayers more money. The former premier also described the Government’s intention to separate the posts of Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service as an “out-of-the-blue” attempt to create a political appointment. The Opposition backbencher’s criticism came after the Government announced on Monday that it was splitting the posts, which have been combined since 2010, and will both command a salary of $209,894.19 — in keeping with a recommendation by the 2013 Sage Commission. Mr Dunkley said the Government, by increasing the number of ministries, had gone against the Sage Commission’s recommendations to save money by consolidating government departments and ministries. “Now I expect the PLP government to try and rationalize that they have a Minister of Government Reform supported by the Deputy Head of the Civil Service. However, since July 2017 we have seen more jobs added to the government ranks with no known efficiencies or cost savings. Now this change again will further increase costs to the taxpayer. Since 2010, both roles have been the responsibility of one person, and with this change the roles will be separate and each graded at PS 50 with each job paying $209,894.19.” A government spokeswoman offered no response when questioned over whether these developments would prove more costly to the taxpayer. Mr Dunkley emphasized that more work was needed to reduce the yearly government operating deficit. He added: “Out-of-the-blue changes like this will not help but have the potential to dig a deeper hole.” The Government said on Monday that Derrick Binns would remain as Head of the Civil Service and that the Public Service Commission planned to appoint a new Cabinet secretary by the end of this month. A press release added that John Rankin, the Governor, and David Burt, the Premier, believed the move to separate the posts would “place a sharper focus on public service reform”. Mr Dunkley questioned what responsibility the Deputy Head of the Civil Service, a position held by Cherie Whitter since 2014, would have when Dr Binns assumes his new role. He said: “The PLP government media release says, ‘In an effort to place a sharper focus on public service reform, the posts of Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service will be separated. This, in my humble view, is pure political spin as the current Deputy Head of the Civil Service over the last few years has had direct responsibility for public service reform and implementation of specific provisions of the Sage report. In my view, the DHCS is capable and qualified to implement the priorities and plans of a government.” Mr Dunkley added that the “PLP as the Opposition had little positive to say about the work of the Sage Commission”. He said: “Out of the blue, another highly compensated job is created which looks like moving the current Cabinet secretary in an effort to have a political appointment. This behavior is a carryover from the last PLP administration and it undermined the effectiveness and the unbiased nature of the Civil Service.” A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said on Monday that both posts were graded at the PS 50 pay scale with a salary of $209,894.19, and that funding for the new role would be allocated in the next Budget. However, the Cabinet Office spokeswoman revealed that Dr Binns would remain at the PS 50 pay scale. Asked why this figure was higher than the PS 50 salary listed in this year’s Budget Book, which came in at $204,775, the spokeswoman said: “During the most recent Bermuda Public Service Union negotiations all public officers were given a cost-of-living increase of 2.5 per cent. This increase was effective from April 1, 2017. The increase in all salaries will be reflected in the 2018-2019 Budget Book and Collective Bargaining Agreement.” The spokeswoman said identifying and hiring the next Cabinet secretary was the responsibility of the Public Service Commission and she added that “other than this, we will not comment on human resources matters”.
Sage Commission Recommendations. The Sage Commission, a body tasked with assessing government efficiency, made this recommendation to the Government in December 2013:
January 17. Peter Kyle has been appointed manager of The St George’s Club, in the Town of St George. He has extensive experience in the hotel industry. He was executive housekeeper and Fairmont Gold Manager at the Fairmont Southampton, and also worked for the company in Boston. And he helped train Fairmont staff in Kenya. After his spell overseas, he returned to Bermuda as assistant general manager at Coral Beach Club, assisting the new ownership install systems. He then took on a similar role at Grotto Bay Resort and Spa. “Having fulfilled his agreed commitment at that resort when we asked him to assist us to move The St George’s Club through the metamorphosis to a hotel, he quickly agreed,” Sally-Ann Kyle, president and CEO of The St George Club, said of her son. “We are delighted that he did so because this is a family business, and he has worked here before many times. So, while he knows the business, Peter comes with a passion to make things work better and more efficiently. His knowledge of rooms and food and beverage is extensive and we feel having someone like Peter as part of the management team is key to moving ahead and creating a sustainable operation which includes both restaurants being successful, while maintaining the locally owned, family style hotel we are transitioning too. While change is sometimes resisted by individuals, we feel now is the time to make adjustments as we change to a hotel with the understanding that everything we do, also preserves the time-sharing right-to-use access for our ‘members’ agreements some of which will not expire for another 20 years.” Mr Kyle achieved a BA (Hons) in Hospitality Management & Tourism from the University of Strathclyde, in Scotland, before entering the management internship programme at the Fairmont Southampton.
January 17. Bermudian actor Lana Young has won a role as a series regular on the latest show on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
January 17. A Sandys woman is attempting to set up a carpooling scheme to get children to school amid continuing bus shortages. Janice Battersbee said: “We’ve got to stop pointing fingers and blaming as it wastes time. We’ve got to start being more solution minded.” A total of 47 buses have been cancelled in the past two days. Last month, a government spokesman confirmed that dedicated school buses could not run when a temporary arrangement to supplement the service with minibuses ended. Ms Battersbee posted messages on Facebook this month calling for community members concerned about the bus situation, and the potential impact on schoolchildren, to come together. The 52-year-old insurance underwriter said she was inspired to write the post after her church pastor raised the subject. She said: “We should show our children what we are willing to do to help ourselves out of a difficult situation.” Ms Battersbee said her own children, who are now 28 and 20, not being affected by the bus shortages was irrelevant. We’re all part of the community. They’re all our children, so we should be coming up with some way of making sure our children get to school to get the education that they deserve.” Ms Battersbee said the shortages hit home thanks to her family situation. “My father used to drive buses years ago and my mother was a teacher, so these issues are very close to my heart.” The response to her online posts has been largely positive, but some people raised concerns over student safety and liability. Ms Battersbee said that she had been in touch with Saving Children and Revealing Secrets and one school principal about the idea for a carpool. She said she also plans to reach out to Government, but that the community must also bear some responsibility. Ms Battersbee explained: “We are government. The people voted the Government in, but our responsibility doesn’t stop once we put a ballot in the box. Our responsibility is ongoing.” Ms Battersbee said further research into the insurance side of things were her next steps. She added: “I’m going to take this as far as I can, and if it proves that it’s impossible, then I tried. I would rather have someone suggest something absolutely ridiculous than not suggest anything at all.” Ms Battersbee is one of the co-founders of The Bermudians, which last year donated $50,000 raised through sales of a song to island teachers through the Bermuda Education Network. Anyone interested in supporting the carpool initiative can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 16. A purported online news site ran a fake news report yesterday claiming that David Burt, the Premier, had died. The hoax story also claimed that the news had come from The Royal Gazette. The site, which calls itself Houston News, has been implicated before for falsifying news reports. In September 2017, international media, including the BBC, exposed the site as taking part in a burst of “fake news” surrounding Hurricane Irma after the storm devastated the Caribbean. The story, which claimed Sir Richard Branson had been injured by looters at his home on the British Virgin Islands, used a photograph taken from 2016 showing the British billionaire’s injury from a bike accident. Yesterday’s story, which described the Gazette as “Bermuda’s longstanding government mouthpiece”, used a URL masquerading as ABC News. Mr Burt’s political background was described along with his swearing-in ceremony.
January 16. A damaged fire sprinkler at the Fairmont Southampton forced more than 100 guests to evacuate the hotel on Sunday morning. According to one staff member, a pipe burst in one of the hotel’s kitchens, damaging the sprinkler and setting off the fire alarm at around 11.30am. “At the time, no one knew where it was coming from or whether it was a fire or not,” the employee said. He said that he and other staff members helped guests to leave the hotel, where they waited for around half an hour before they were given the all-clear. “Everybody seemed to be understanding,” he said. “There was some flooding in the kitchen and all the water had to be pumped out, but everything was up and running again in 35 minutes.” Kiaran MacDonald, Fairmont hotels regional vice-president, Bermuda and Caribbean, and general manager of the Fairmont Southampton, said: “The hotel underwent an evacuation exercise as a result of a damaged fire sprinkler that activated the emergency alarm system. The correct procedure was followed, our guests were minimally inconvenienced and appreciated the safety steps taken.”
January 16. Six charging stations are to be installed at the Royal Naval Dockyard so that Twizy drivers can get a free electric top-up. The West End Development Corporation is also in talks with other electric car operators to see if more charging stations can be installed in the area. Joanna Cranfield, business development manager at Wedco, said: “One of the issues we have found is that different makes of electric cars have different types of chargers. “I know there are different electric vehicles in Bermuda and we want to find out what they need to see if it is possible to set up charging stations for them as well.” She said Wedco wants to be environmentally conscious and help locals and tourists take advantage of new transport options. “I think it’s great to see these types of vehicles on the roads and it is our duty to try and support the people who want to use them.” Meanwhile, a pilot recycling programme, which started last year on a six-month trial at Dockyard, is doing “very well and is an extremely popular addition”, according to Ms Cranfield. She said: “Wedco had teamed up with the Department of Public Works to enable the recycling and we are both monitoring is as we progress but are pleased with all the results to date. We are very happy that we are able to partner on this scheme and with the charging stations we are making good strides to be as environmentally friendly as we can.”
January 16. Problems caused by shopping carts being taken from MarketPlace stores on Victoria Street and Church Street, and then dumped elsewhere in the city, now have a solution. An electronic system has been put in place to lock up the wheels of any carts that are pushed outside the boundaries of the stores. It is designed to end the need for the company to send employees scouring the streets of the city every two days to recover abandoned carts. The Gatekeeper Shopping Cart Containment System is operating at both MarketPlace locations in Hamilton, and may eventually be rolled out to stores elsewhere. An underground electronic marker system acts like an invisible fence, sending a signal to a wheel on the cart that instantly locks it when it passes beyond the edge of the boundary. In a statement, the company’s management said: “For years, abandoned shopping carts on the city’s sidewalks and roads have been a safety concern as well as unsightly. Previously our trucks search several times a week throughout the area, rounding up carts.” The abandoned carts are also in violation of a Hamilton bylaw. Gary Shuman, president of MarketPlace, said the company often found abandoned carts as far away as the harbour, Pitts Bay Road and Saltus Grammar School, and in various places around the city where they can be blown around on windy days and potentially cause damage. The problem has been ongoing for decades. Mr Schuman said a solution had been discussed and it was decided this year to implement it. He said the City of Hamilton had been helpful in making it possible to install the system, which had required some trenching work. Recognizing that some customers do have genuine reasons for needing to take a cart filled with their shopping a bit further from the store than the system now allows, MarketPlace managers will be glad to assist by having them accompanied by a member of staff with a fob key that unlocks the cart brake. Mr Shuman explained that there are customers who need to take their shopping in a cart as far as the bus terminal, or further along the street to where they have parked their car. “The managers will send someone with them to release the cart brake and ensure the cart is returned.” In a statement, the City of Hamilton said: “We applaud The MarketPlace and fully supports the new system in place to effectively eliminate abandoned, unsightly shopping carts in the city. The city would like to thank the MarketPlace for recognizing the potential hazards and taking action to ensure that carts are not left on the city sidewalks once they have served their purpose. The safety of pedestrians and motorists will always be of utmost importance to the city.”
January 14. Sunday. Bermuda’s newest soldiers got their first taste of military life today as the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s annual recruit camp started with a bang. The recruits saw a demonstration of the firepower in the regiment’s arsenal, as well as training aids like thunder flashes and flares at the start of two weeks of intense work. Akilah Acka, from Sandys, said: “I did Junior Leaders a few years ago so I wanted to see what it was like as an adult. “I wanted to test my physical limits and see if I could withstand the demands. It’s productive as well because I’m gaining life skills.” The 18-year-old, who has an associates’ degree in arts, admitted: “In some ways I’m nervous, but if you go in confident, you will be confident so when the hard stuff comes it won’t be so much of a challenge.” Matthew Ratteray, 38, from Smith’s, said he took some time to take the plunge and join the island’s only armed service. He added: “I’ve always wanted to do it and now I feel I’m ready. There’s monetary value to it as well — it’s some extra coin in the pocket.” Private Ratteray, an airport security officer and the son of former Anglican Bishop Ewen Ratteray, said: “I’m going in with a positive attitude and I’m definitely looking forward to the next two weeks. I’m looking forward most to the fitness, the obstacle course and rifle training.” The two were speaking as a total of 45 new all-volunteer soldiers joined up for a mix of training that will take them from classroom work to hands-on experience of using the RBR’s SA-80 rifles and field craft. Private Miles Dill, 23, from Southampton, a fiber optics salesman for Digicel, said he wanted to make a difference in the world and gather some material for his writing. He added: “Bermudians are a very tiny percentage of the world. If there’s any hardship or unrest, normally there’s nothing you can do about it. I thought if I was in the regiment, you’re one of the pillars of the country. If there was no pay, I’d still have done it, but we are paid, which is nice. Bermuda has been so kind to me growing up, it’s about time I returned the favour.” Earlier, Major Duncan Simons, RBR Adjutant, outlined the values and principles of service to the new soldiers. He emphasized that the regiment was open, inclusive and had zero tolerance for bullying, harassment and discrimination. Major Simons said: “Essentially, we’re all green. We all wear the same uniform and adhere to the same values and standards.” And he warned: “Any form of abuse of authority intended to intimidate is not acceptable.” Platoon leader Lieutenant Alex Gibbs, 26, said he was looking forward to helping the recruits achieve their full potential. Lieutenant Gibbs, a bar and restaurant manager from Smith’s, added: “I’m optimistic. It’s another good volunteer recruit camp. As a commander, it’s a lot more fun to have volunteers who want to be here. Judging from last year, I expect the commitment and work ethic to be very high.”
January 13. Ethiopian runners produced a clean sweep of the men’s podium in Saturday’s Bermuda Marathon Weekend 10K. Birhanu Dare Kemal led the field across the line in 32min, with Abu Kebede Diriba taking second in 33:02 and Girma Bekele Gebre third in 34:17. The trio were among a group of four runners that included Bermuda’s Dage Minors that went out hard from the start, completing the first mile in 4:50. Kemal and Gebre kept their foot on the gas and managed to separate themselves from Minors and Diriba before the uphill climb to the second mile mark. The race as a contest all but ended after Kemal broke away from his compatriot moments after passing the second mile mark in 9:48 and gradually extended his lead the rest of the way to win a maiden 10K title by a landslide. “I’m happy to win the race at my first attempt,” said Kemal, whose average mile pace was 5:09. “For the first two miles I was running fast with Girma and after a few miles when I looked back nobody was with me and so I was happy. It was windy so the time is not fast and I can go faster. The course is very challenging but I like it. The start of the course was good, a little bit flat. But after I think two miles it’s very challenging but not bad.” Minors, who became the first Bermudian to win the elite men’s race at the KPMG Front Street Mile the night before, momentarily stopped after passing the two-mile mark but was able to complete the race in eighth in 37:58. “My legs were not responding as I wanted,” Minors said. “I was cramping up in my calfs and hamstrings and everything just took its toll. It is what it is but it’s good to go out there with the crowd still cheering me on from last night.” Minors’s cousin Chayce Smith was the first local male runner across the line and fourth overall in 35:05. Sean Trott was the second top local in the men’s field in 36:47 and Minors third. “I’m doing the Half Challenge for the first time and just having fun with running right now,” Smith, the national cross country champion, said. “It felt like a hurricane out there. But at the end of the day it was a nice race and to be the first local men’s runner is definitely a bonus.” Kimarra McDonald won the women’s title and was 13th overall. The Jamaican claimed her maiden 10K title after crossing the line in 40:07. Angel Piccirillo, the American who won the elite women’s mile the night before, was second in 40:28 and Dara Filut, also from the United States, third in 43:19. “This is my first time on the podium in the whole event and it feels good,” McDonald said. “There wasn’t a real plan so I guess the general plan was to finish. Maybe go out conservatively and then just re-evaluate from there. The course is hard. But I’ve learnt that apparently I’m good at hills, and so I guess it’s the islander in me.” Martina Olcheski-Bell was the top local female and 34th overall in 43:26. Christine Dailey was the second local female in 43:32 and Kristen Palmer was third in 44:33. “I’m quite pleased with my performance,” Olcheski-Bell said. “I tried not to go out too fast and just kept it steady and literally the last 300 metres I just went all out. It’s a tough 10K with that hill at the end and fighting the wind. It was a struggle but it’s done.”
January 13. An air rage passenger who hurled abuse at crew and families on board the flight was yesterday fined $700. Magistrates’ Court heard that Helder Viera shouted obscenities at other passengers, which forced them to move seats on the BA flight from London and Bermuda. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo said the maximum $1,000 fine for the offence was “peanuts”. He added: “This penalty encourages people to behave like this.” The court heard that Viera, 53, had downed a mix of alcoholic drinks but “appeared lucid” when he began to hurl obscenities at a young family two hours into the flight. He shouted at the family, saying they “act like a f***ing dog”. He was warned by cabin crew to calm down. But Viera said: “You are all f***ing back taking our jobs.” He was told that he would not be served any more alcohol and was later issued a Captain’s Violation Notice. Viera told crew members: “That’s fine. I will do whatever it takes to make this plane divert and report it to my solicitor in the morning.” Viera, from Pembroke, was escorted off the BA flight by police when it arrived in Bermuda on December 31 last year and spent New Year’s Eve in custody. The defendant admitted using threatening words and disorderly behavior on an aircraft. Viera apologized for his actions and said that he had been tired. He admitted he had “stepped over the boundary”. Defence lawyer Elizabeth Christopher said Viera disputed some of the comments he was alleged to have made. She added: “He is very apologetic to everyone, especially the crew. He is embarrassed. This was an unfortunate set of circumstances.” But Mr Tokunbo told Viera the situation was “all of your own making”.
January 13. A 36-year-old man was yesterday jailed for a year after admitting a string of thefts. Desmond Trott-Sousa pleaded guilty in Magistrates’ Court to five separate charges in connection with the theft of cash and jewellery. Trott-Sousa, from Sandys, offered to pay restitution to his victims. But Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo said: “I have considered all the relevant factors including the defendant’s low IQ and his learning disability. There comes a time when he has to face the punishment that results from his crime. He has a propensity for burglarizing places and stealing small change. That is his crime of choice and a pattern established back to 2003. I am of the view that his behavior means that he must be treated differently this time to reflect the seriousness of the offences and bring that gravity home to him.” The offences happened between May 2016 and May last year.
January 12. Dr. Ewart Brown today paid tribute to his former political foe Quinton Edness on behalf of “all of us who want the best for Bermuda”. The former premier, who defeated Mr Edness in Warwick West at the 1998 General Election, praised the veteran politician for his ability to articulate an argument and tireless work for the island. Mr Edness, a former United Bermuda Party Cabinet Minister, died yesterday, aged 86. Dr Brown, premier under the Progressive Labour Party from 2006 to 2010, said: “In politics there are times when our humanity disappears and we are swallowed in the heat of battle. When I heard that my personal friend and political adversary Quinton Edness had passed away, I had a series of flashbacks dating back to the early 90s when I was entering politics in Warwick West. Always willing to join in the late night, early morning exchanges in the House of Assembly, Quinton was one of the few UBP MPs who could always wake me up and provide material for my inevitable response. I cannot recall one time when we were on the same side of a political issue, although in my youth I watched my mother Helene Brown and my aunt Gloria McPhee work alongside Quinton in the UBP. Yet, I was always impressed by his ability to articulate the opposite side of the argument even when I never believed that he believed it! A gentleman to the end, Quinton will always be remembered for his untiring efforts on behalf of Bermuda. For that I have thanked his wife on behalf of all of us who want the best for Bermuda.” Mark Pettingill, another former MP for Warwick West, said: “QE was a constituent when I was an MP, a mentor and friend. I am deeply saddened by his passing. He was witty, wise, intellectual, and kind-hearted, we have lost a statesman and a gentleman who has left his mark on history.”
January 12. Veteran politician and respected businessman Quinton Edness died yesterday. He was 86. Mr Edness, who served as a United Bermuda Party MP for 30 years, passed away at his home in Warwick with wife Vicki and daughter Stacey at his bedside. He was awarded the CBE in 1992 in the Queen’s New Year Honour’s List for his public service. Mr Edness was elected to Parliament in 1968 after he won the Warwick West seat and went on to serve in the UBP Cabinet in a variety of roles. He led the ministries of home affairs, health and social services, marine and air, works, agriculture and fisheries and community affairs. Sir John Swan, the former premier, told The Royal Gazette that Bermuda had lost a “giant of a man. My friendship with Quinton goes back to our childhoods when we used to play together on South Shore,” Sir John said. “Quinton had a profound conscience and sensitivity about people. His life’s mission was to help people and he was prepared to make every sacrifice to achieve that aim. We served our country together and trailblazed initiatives that helped make Bermuda for the 21st century. Quinton was often the voice of reason and he never became bitter. He was a man who sacrificed so much for the good of Bermuda. He worked so hard and no one should forget that. But we were not only political associates — we were good friends, our families were close, and we continued to exchange ideas through our lives.” Sir John added: “I want to extend my condolences to his wife, Vicki, and his daughter, Stacey, who have to bear this burden of losing such a husband and father. I will miss him very much.” Dame Pamela Gordon-Banks, the last UBP premier, said Mr Edness was a “champion for Bermuda” who played a major role in her Cabinet. She added: “We owe him a debt of gratitude for all the years he gave, selflessly, to this country. We had differences of opinion but whatever he said, he genuinely believed. He was larger than life, with his broadcasting voice and his disarming smile.” Mr Edness was a consummate politician and a UBP heavyweight who steered several major Acts through Parliament, including the Misuse of Drugs Act 1972, the Bermuda Housing Act 1980, the Human Rights Act 1981, the Public Works Act, 1984, the Waste and Litter Act 1987 and the Housing Assistance Programme 1988. He also represented the island around the world. He was Bermuda’s representative at the Caribbean Health Ministers Conference and in 1979 he flew to New Zealand for a meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Former government minister Leonard Gibbons said Mr Edness was “a wonderful Bermudian — Bermuda came first, and he did a great job in all the ministries he headed”. He added: “Quinton started with the party when we went into party politics. He was a wonderful gentleman and a great Bermudian.” Former UBP MP John Barritt said Mr Edness was a “dear friend and a dear colleague”. He added: “There was a reason they called him the Loveable Q and that’s because his personality and the way he treated people was so engaging, so personable, that even if you had disagreements with Quinton, and people did politically over the years, it was hard to be angry with the person.” Mr Barritt said Mr Edness’s impact on Bermuda was “immeasurable”. He added: “And I don’t use word that lightly.” Mr Barritt said Mr Edness worked tirelessly to “break down barriers. He tried, and he succeeded in many ways, to cross racial lines and to bring people together. He loved Bermuda and Bermuda’s people, black and white, and he did all he could to advance Bermuda as a community.” Mr Edness was a passionate golfer, a familiar face on the television and a respected businessman away from politics. He attended the West End School and the Berkeley Institute and also spent time at Bloor Collegiate in Toronto. Mr Edness joined the Bermuda Broadcasting Company as a trainee announcer in 1951 and nine years later became sales manager. He later became a familiar face on television and an even more familiar voice on radio and continued to rise in the company until 1984 when he stepped down as managing director of radio and TV. Mr Edness was also involved with a number of international organisations. He held directorships with many firms including the Bank of Bermuda, Canadian Pacific (Bermuda) Ltd and financial services firm LOM. Former UBP official Ward Young and his wife Kim Young, a former minister, also paid tribute to Mr Edness. Mr Young said: “I knew him 50 years — it was an amazing journey. We met on a plane in 1967 when we were both sent by the UBP to view an election in Ontario. Just before the door shut, he came on board, 6ft 4in with big Afro hair, looking like a god. We were very close friends ever since.” He added: “If you cut him, he would bleed Bermuda.” Mr Young said: “When the UBP fell apart, he never bolted — he just stayed the course with his philosophy of free enterprise and a social conscience. I wish we had more like him.” Ms Young called him “a great source of advice who commanded attention — he was always thoughtful, especially thinking of others. Bermuda will miss him.” Dennis Tucker, a former Hamilton councillor and a childhood friend from their South Shore neighborhood in Warwick, said Mr Edness had watched out for him “as a big brother and a great mentor”. Mr Tucker said: “He was thoughtful, with a genuine sensitivity. We were incredibly proud of him — all of us used to rush up to his Aunt Myrtle’s place to listen to his broadcasts. He never forgot us. During his later years he kept in touch with us all. In the last few years we had a luncheon group that met every Friday at his suggestion. He was the chairman of the group and we respected him for that. I always referred to him as ‘minister’ and that is how I remember him.” David Burt, the Premier, said: “On behalf of the people of Bermuda, I extend sincere condolences to the family and friends of former government minister, the Honorable Quinton Edness. Mr Edness was a respected politician, broadcaster, and businessman. He helped to shape the political landscape of Bermuda.” One Bermuda Alliance leader Jeanne Atherden said: “Our condolences go out to his wife Vicki and daughter Stacey. Quinton’s love for his country was as big as his stature. Quinton in his charismatic way could reach people from all walks of life. From the man on the street to the CEO each would feel he understood their point of view. Quinton always looked for common ground. I can recall conversations with him discussing the future of Bermuda and he was very passionate on the need to bring Bermudians together. Although he worked hard for Bermuda, Warwick had a special place in his heart. Rest in peace my friend.” Progressive Labour Party chairman Owen Darrell said Mr Edness was “well known for speaking his mind on the state of politics in Bermuda, right up until the most recent election”. Speaking on behalf of the PLP, Mr Darrell said: “With his commitment to his island clear through his public service, we must give our thanks and gratitude to his wife and family for sharing him with us and supporting him. May their memories give them comfort during this sad time.”
January 12. An Australian businessman has apologized “unreservedly” for false accusations he made against the former executive director of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission. Tibor Vertes, presented as one of a “very esteemed” panel of speakers at a Progressive Labour Party forum on gaming in May last year, was sued by Richard Schuetz after he was smeared in an e-mail from the Australian to former premier Michael Dunkley. Mr Vertes wrote in his apology that the statements he made “were based on information that had been given to me by third parties”. He added: “I now believe the information to be incorrect. The statements I made were therefore unjustified and unsubstantiated.” Mr Schuetz took legal action after Mr Vertes made “highly critical statements” in the e-mail. The e-mail, also copied to then MPs Mark Pettingill and Shawn Crockwell, was circulated in the gambling world and Mr Vertes accepted it “damaged Mr Schuetz’s good name and reputation”. The civil case against Mr Vertes was dropped after the written apology. Mr Schuetz, who resigned from the commission in July last year and left the island last month, told The Royal Gazette: “I applaud Mr Vertes for doing the right thing and allowing this issue to be resolved.” Mr Schuetz and Mr Vertes met on January 18 last year at a lunch in the Café Lido restaurant at Elbow Beach. He was asked to attend by Roland Andy Burrows, the chief investment officer of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Restaurateur Jacky Di Meglio, of the MEF Group, which owns Café Lido, and a lawyer from New Jersey were also at the lunch. One Bermuda Alliance MP Mr Pettingill introduced Mr Vertes to Mr Dunkley through an e-mail on February 7. Mr Vertes e-mailed the Premier the next day to criticize new fees for casino operators on the island, which passed in the House of Assembly despite an attack on them by Mr Pettingill and independent MP Mr Crockwell. Mr Vertes, who described himself as a consultant to the MEF Group, included disparaging remarks and false allegations about Mr Schuetz in the e-mail. He falsely claimed Mr Schuetz had predicted in a podcast that it would take ten years to set up Bermuda’s casino industry and $25 million a year to regulate it. During the House debate on the casino fees only five days earlier, Mr Pettingill several times claimed the commission had suggested $25 million a year for a “regulatory framework” and ten years for industry implementation. The claims were echoed by PLP MP Zane DeSilva. But Mr Schuetz had never made such a claim on a podcast or anywhere else and in the lawsuit filed against Mr Vertes he said the attribution of this comment to him suggested his conduct was “farcical” and that he was unable to do his job. Mr Schuetz said: “It is terribly upsetting to read a complete fabrication attributed to me and I was committed to demonstrating that it was not true. That mission is now accomplished.” Casino fees sparked a public row between the gaming commission and Mr Pettingill and Mr Crockwell. Mr Vertes’s e-mail was forwarded to the media by Mr Crockwell on March 23 last year. Mr Crockwell, who has since died, claimed that Mr Vertes, whom he described as an Australian “casino expert”, had approached him and Mr Pettingill to discuss concerns that the fees were too high. The e-mail forwarded by Mr Crockwell to the media was an edited version of the original with much of the defamatory material removed — though the politician did not reveal that. Mr Crockwell wrote: “Mr Vertes is not a client of ours and we have absolutely no business relationship with him. He e-mailed the Premier to recount his meeting with Mr Schuetz on January 18 and the concerns that he raised. For full transparency, I will forward the e-mail and hope that the relevant portions will be reported as it corroborates the issues that both I and Mr Pettingill have raised. This is our responsibility as parliamentarians and to suggest that our statements are motivated by self-interest is simply wrong.” Mr Schuetz said he was unsure why Mr Vertes tried to discredit him but suggested it was linked to his recommendation to the Government to cancel an agreement with MM&I Holdings — an island firm involved in a bid to win a cashless gaming contract worth tens of millions of dollars a year. The OBA Government entered into the MM&I agreement on the recommendation of Mr Crockwell, when he was tourism minister, and Mr Pettingill, when he was the Attorney-General. The law firm set up by Mr Pettingill, of which Mr Crockwell was a director, represents MM&I. Representatives from MM&I’s partner firm, Banyan Gaming, appeared on the same panel as Mr Vertes at the PLP forum at Elbow Beach on May 3 last year, which Mr DeSilva, now the sports minister, helped organize. David Burt, now the Premier, introduced the panellists as “very esteemed”. Mr Schuetz said: “I had become somewhat accustomed to people attacking me, especially politicians, and especially after I requested that the memorandum of understanding with MM&I be cancelled, and after I insisted on anti-corruption measures being included in amendments to the Gaming Act. I just assumed that this was more of that.” He pointed out that the comments falsely attributed to him by Mr Vertes had earlier been spoken about by Mr Pettingill in the House of Assembly. He said it was interesting that Mr Pettingill introduced Mr Vertes to Mr Dunkley, that Mr Pettingill and Mr Crockwell were copied in on the defamatory e-mail and that Mr Pettingill’s law firm represented Mr Vertes in the libel case. Mr Schuetz added: “If this is all coincidence, it is an amazing coincidence.” Mr Vertes could not be contacted for comment, but his lawyer Dennis Dwyer, of Chancery Legal, said in an e-mail: “This matter was resolved in confidence. No comment.” Mr Pettingill also declined to comment. Mr Schuetz’s lawsuit said Teresa Chatfield, a director of MEF, was also sent a copy of the email sent to Mr Dunkley. Ms Chatfield said: “Mr Vertes was never employed as a consultant by MEF or any part of the group. He is therefore also not now employed by the group. MEF has no plans to apply for a casino licence.” Mr Burrows said he was introduced to Mr Vertes at the Café Lido lunch last January and it was the first time he had met him. He said he was invited to the lunch by Mr Di Meglio, who arranged it on behalf of MEF. Mr Burrows said: “Mr Vertes had and has no relationship with the BTA, to my knowledge.”
Vertes hits headlines in homeland: Australian Tibor Vertes styled himself as a gaming expert when he visited Bermuda last year but media reports on his most recent business dealings focus on other areas. He has hit the headlines for alleged shoddy employment practices at a café he owns in Sydney and for failed companies he has been closely involved with. In his e-mail to Michael Dunkley in February 2017, Mr Vertes described himself as a barrister and solicitor, who was involved in the casino industry in the 1990s in the United States and in Australia. He told the Premier he was visiting the island as consultant for the MEF Group of restaurants to “assist in their anticipated effort to apply for a local gaming licence”. Teresa Chatfield, from the MEF Group, told The Royal Gazette: “Mr Vertes was never employed as a consultant by MEF or any part of the group. He is therefore also not now employed by the group. MEF has no plans to apply for a casino licence.” According to Australian news reports, Mr Vertes and his company Robit Nominees were accused last February of unlawfully requiring an Italian cook employed on a visa at his Sydney café to pay back thousands of dollars of her wages. Legal action against Mr Vertes and the company was launched by the Fair Work Ombudsman in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney. Robit Nominees has since gone into liquidation, according to published government notices. A 2014 article in The Sunday Telegraph details how the same café — Bar Coluzzi in Darlinghurst — was, prior to April 2012, partially funded by the family trust of Rodney Adler, a crook who was jailed for his role in Australia’s biggest corporate collapse of HIH Insurance. Mr Vertes, a separate financier of the business, told the newspaper he was unhappy having money in the same business as Adler and encouraged his partner at the café to oust him. Mr Vertes was chairman of Oceanlinx, a wave energy developer which went into receivership in April 2014, according to various news reports in Australia. His LinkedIn profile says he was founder and chief executive officer of the Gaming & Entertainment Group, from 1995 to 2006, a “leading provider of innovative gaming products”. Shawn Crockwell said in a statement last March that Mr Vertes was an Australian casino expert who got in touch with him and his Chancery Legal law firm partner Mark Pettingill to discuss proposed fees for casino operators. Mr Crockwell said Mr Vertes was “not a client of ours and we have absolutely no business relationship with him”. Chancery Legal later represented Mr Vertes in the civil suit brought against him by Richard Schuetz.
January 12. Bermuda’s branch of the St John Ambulance Brigade is back on a firm footing after years of financial struggles, the charity has said. Justin Williams, St John commander and chairman of the medical charity, added that recruitment had been “on the up” in 2017. He credited the turnaround to a more focused donations strategy, helped by the group’s services during the America’s Cup. Mr Williams said: “As a result of the dedicated service of the commissioner, deputy, officers and members and the board of directors, who have worked diligently throughout the last year, the brigade has flourished. Recruitment and training has developed significantly with 43 new members in healthcare provider CPR and first aid over the last year with more classes scheduled each month.” The brigade provides an emergency medical service at public events — but flagging revenues had put the group $30,000 in debt, it announced in December 2013. Mr Williams said that “generous donations from community icons such as the Marsh Group of Companies and Validus” had enabled the brigade to update its gear, purchase new ambulance equipment and become fully uniformed. St John ensures that ambulance services are available throughout the island, with ambulances on loan to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and stationed at either end of the Island. Mr Williams added: “St John was chosen to provide medical coverage for the Louis Vuitton Americas Cup event May-June 2017, providing an average of 13 medically trained members daily between the AC village on Cross Island and the AC clinic with ambulances stationed, foot patrols and a clinic manned by doctors and nurses in the AC village. St John provided 56 personnel over the entire event, totaling 3,457 man hours, while its medical teams dealt with a total of 296 patients. St John is run entirely by volunteers and welcomes new recruits and those looking to achieve and develop first aid training,” Mr Williams said.
January 12. Individual tenants will be able to control the temperature of their shops and offices once work on a multi-million-dollar replacement of an ageing air-conditioning system at Washington Mall is complete. Owners Washington Properties Ltd is investing $3.6 million in the upgrade, which is part of an $8 million revamp of the entire property. Work will involve replacing the ageing chiller plant and air handlers and installing a state of the art VRV system (variable refrigerant volume) which will provide finer control of individual tenant spaces and increase efficiency. According to Paul Slaughter, Washington Properties’ director and general manager, the current air-conditioning system is more than 20 years old. “At the moment there are several air handlers around the building and each does a group of tenants, so if a tenant works later it has to be on for the entire group, which is inefficient. It also means that one tenant has to have the same temperature as other tenants, which might not suit them,” said Mr Slaughter. “The new system will mean that each tenant will have greater individual control over the operating hours of the air conditioning, with obvious implications for cost control.” The upgrade is being managed by AirCare and is expected to last between 12 and 18 months. The work will be done in stages, said Mr Slaughter, starting on the ground floor of the Reid Street entrance. “There will be some disruption and we do apologize for that, but we believe the much improved, much more efficient end result will be very worthwhile, both for our retail and office tenants, as well as those who use the mall for shopping,” Mr Slaughter added. Brendan Stones, AirCare’s general manager said: “We are really pleased to be working with Washington Properties on this project. Not only will the tenants have more autonomy on managing their environment, they should experience significant financial savings. Environmentally, this is a win-win scenario as well. There will be significantly lower electricity consumption and the refrigerant used in Daikin VRV systems has Zero Ozone Depletion potential.” As well as the new air-conditioning system, Washington Properties has also invested in a new solar electric system which is now up and running. It is also replacing shop fronts, colored ceramic floor tiles, in the older sections of the mall, will be replaced with Travertine tile to match the newer section of the mall and some older elevators will be upgraded with new controls, machine rooms and other hardware.
January 12. Bank of Bermuda Foundation scholarships will now be handed out based on the financial needs of their families. All students will be required to fill out a statement of means form to show whether their family is equipped to pay for postsecondary education, according to a statement from the Foundation. The Foundation says it wants to ensure young people from less wealthy families have access to a top education as it evolves from being a charitable to a philanthropic organisation. Evidence of strong academics and potential for success remain key requirements for eligibility. Dennis Tucker, scholarship committee chairman, said: “This commitment reflects the Foundation’s vision that there are equitable opportunities for all, to lead purposeful lives, have financial security and enjoy a sense of belonging within the community. The Foundation is proud to continue its tradition of offering substantial scholarships to Bermudian students, with a new focus on supporting those who face obstacles due to finances.” The Foundation supports students pursuing interests including the arts, business, vocational, postgraduate, medicine, law and other courses of study. Up to 18 scholarships are made available each year to cover the costs of tuition, room and board and travel. Scholarship applications are due by March 31. For further details, visit www.bermudascholarships.com.
January 12. A makeover for Hamilton’s Union Street has been welcomed by businesses in the area. The job covers only the western edge of the block across from the Bermuda Industrial Union, but the commitment was welcomed by consultant Leon O’Brien, who said the area was “one of Hamilton’s hidden gems”. Mr O’Brien, whose business is near Union Street’s junction with Dundonald Street, added that even small improvements would be “good for business here”. He said: “We’ve been in this location for 18 years because we’ve always believed in Union Street. I’m glad to see that the mayor is paying attention to the back of town — it needs attention.” As well as a fresh brick-patterned sidewalk, the overhaul includes new street lighting, grates around trees and overhead cables being moved underground. Mr O’Brien said the area was viewed as dangerous when “in fact there is very little crime”. He added: “This will help people feel safer coming here. We have great businesses in this part of Hamilton, just like Front Street, and there is great potential. The only way we can solve unemployment is by uplifting areas like the back of town. There are people who don’t fit the bill for Front Street, but people in this area will give them a chance. Small businesses are the engine for success here. You have to be part of this community to make it work.” A senior citizen, who grew up along Union Street, said: “It was a well knitted neighborhood — over the years people have moved out and left the area.” The man pointed out cracks in the sidewalk and added: “Everybody back this side pays taxes when it comes to the Corporation of Hamilton and they are supposed to maintain the sidewalk. “When it comes to this side of town, they have not done anything.” Kylah Forth, manager of the Liberty Theatre, said the upgrades would be “good for customers — especially the lights”. He explained: “We only have the lights on our building. At night it gets pretty dark, so it’s good to see this move.” Earlene Pitcher at Irmani’s Hair and Nails on Union Street said she was “sure it would look nice”, But she added she would reserve judgment until the work was completed in around six weeks time. She said: “I’ve been around for 22 years. Business goes up and down. Will this help? It would be nice if I could say yes. We’ll see.” Ian Hind, senior engineer for the city, said the upgrades followed an ongoing review of Hamilton’s streets. He added: “We survey all the sidewalks and score them one to five, with five being extremely poor. Each year, we target to refurbish and repair the fives.” Mr Hind said the upgrade will not take away parking bays and a wider western sidewalk will take advantage of the extra street width on the block between Dundonald and Victoria Streets. He said: “We need to increase the space for wheelchairs and prams. It’s also just in bad shape as the trees have matured, which is a hazard for pedestrians. In the process we’re getting rid of the unsightly poles and putting up tall black street lights with LEDs. But the most important item is renewing the sidewalk.” A raised pedestrian crossing will also run across Victoria Street to Joell’s Alley. Mr Hind admitted other areas of Hamilton needed attention but work was “based on a certain budget”. He said: “We continually assess the city and keep a register that covers everything, including the roads and sidewalks. We’re slowly going around Hamilton dealing with our worst scenarios as a priority.”
January 12. Demand for stand-alone houses is strong, but pricing for condominiums slipped last year as growing inventory gave buyers plenty of choice. Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty market update’s described the overall market as “relatively buoyant” in the latter stages of last year. However, it added that the commercial real estate market is facing major challenges, with more than 500,000 square feet of vacant or underused office space on the market. The realtor found that condominiums represented 26 per cent of closed sales during 2017, while 30 per cent of all purchasers were first-time buyers. “Even with a high percentage of first time buyers, Bermuda’s entry-level condominium market is anything but robust,” the report stated. “Supply continues to increase and sellers will be confronted with longer than average days on market if the property is not correctly priced. Our market analysis suggests that the average price of condominiums sold in 2017 continued to decrease to around $650,000. Price, perceived value and downsizing, continue to be the major contributing factors from a demand perspective.” The realtor reported that the proportion of cash buyers remained high at around 40 per cent — compared to well under 10 per cent before the 2008 global financial crisis. Demand for stand-alone homes with a price tag of up to $2.5 million in sought-after neighborhoods remained “healthy”, Coldwell Banker said. “Recently, a correctly priced executive home received multiple offers and went into contract in less than 90 days after coming on the market. Demand emanated from both Bermudians and Permanent Resident Certificate holders with the primary motivation being to purchase a home for their growing families.” The inventory of homes available to overseas buyers stood at a record high of 40. “Although we have noted an uptick in demand from overseas buyers since mid-2017 onwards, our market would benefit from the presence of more buyers as supply currently exceeds demand,” Coldwell Banker said. With a glut of office space still available on the market, the realtor called for a fresh approach to try to attract more business to the island. “Property owners will be forced to explore alternative uses in this competitive market or respond to vacancy challenges by offering rent-free fit out periods or competitive market pricing. There are a number of large office buildings on the market at prices reflecting great values, especially for potential owner-occupiers. As the City of Hamilton provides the infrastructure for our economic engine it would be advisable for policymakers and economic growth stakeholders to continue to aggressively explore the global market to identify real opportunities for potential job creators to relocate to Bermuda. Maintaining the status quo is not an option if we wish to see more investment in the city, additional taxpayers and new consumers.” And the report outlined a cautiously optimistic outlook for the months ahead. “We predict that 2018 will mirror last year in terms of performance within the various market segments; although, we expect a potential uptick in the sale of stand-alone luxury homes up to $2.5 million, providing this inventory type is appropriately priced. Our ageing population will continue to explore downsizing options as they plan for their long-term accommodation requirements. As new luxury resort and residential properties are completed and introduced to the market, we anticipate an increase in sales towards the latter part of 2018.”
January 12. Jordan Chipangama, who was set to be one of the star attractions of this year’s Bermuda Marathon Weekend, has been forced to withdraw from the road running spectacle for the second time in four years. The Zambian long-distance runner, who has won the BMW 10K twice and Half Marathon three times and holds the race record in the marathon, pulled out at the eleventh hour after suffering a hamstring injury while training. “I got an e-mail that he [Chipangama] injured his hamstring,” Anthony Raynor, the BMW chairman and race director for the 10K, half-marathon and marathon, confirmed. “He was out training and hurt his hamstring and he is extremely disappointed of course because he’s been planning for a few months to come over here.” Chipangama also pulled out of the event in 2015 because of an illness which dashed his hopes of a third successive half marathon crown. Raynor ruled out bringing in a late replacement for Chipangama, who won a third marathon and second 10K during his previous appearance here in 2016. He set the race record in the half marathon of 1h 4min 21sec in 2014. “We have six [elite runners] still here so we are, at this point, going with the six,” Raynor said. “It would be a little unfair at this point to bring in someone because the plans have been made for some of these guys for a couple of months.” Local fans have been treated to some exciting competition over the past several decades and Raynor said this year will be no exception as some of the world’s elite, both present and past, showcase their extraordinary talents. “Over the years we have had the top athletes here and this year again we have Geoff Smith who won the Boston Marathon twice,” Raynor said. “We also have Steve Jones who was a world record-holder in the marathon so how much better can we get? This event is good for tourism which is good for our economy and that is a motivator. And to combine sharing Bermuda with a passion of running with visitors to the island what else would I want to do? It’s like a dream.” Bermuda Marathon Weekend commences tonight, with the ever-popular KPMG Front Street Mile races. “The KPMG Front Street Mile has always been the highlight of the race weekend simply because it brings the whole community together,” Mike Charles, the KPMG Front Street Mile race director, said. “The elite event is going to be a good one and I’m hoping that our own home grown Dage Minors will come out on top.” Tonight marks the thirteenth and final year of KPMG sponsoring the Front Street Mile. “Unfortunately, this is their last year as our sponsors but we have been grateful to KPMG for assisting and supporting this event over the last several years,” Donna Raynor, the Bermuda National Athletics Association president, said. BMW chairman Anthony Raynor added: “Thirteen years ago they came and supported the event when it really needed support and from my perspective they have fuelled the event with their support. They have decided that they would like to go and support something else and so I can’t be happier with the time that we have been together.”
January 12. A peer-to-peer social sports and gaming website has chosen Bermuda as the jurisdiction to set up its new blockchain-based token, iCash. Purchasers of the token, which will be launched soon, will be able to access the website FaceOff, which plans to allow its users to challenge others to head-to-head matchups based on the outcomes of sports events. Law firm Conyers advised on the formation of the iCash Ltd, a Bermudian company, and on the development of its ethereum blockchain-based token. Will McDonough, the co-founder of iCash and FaceOff, said: “We chose Bermuda as our jurisdiction to set up iCash as our token issuer because of its business-friendly and forward-thinking international reputation, one which is clearly ambitious to move ahead swiftly, while prudently, to develop blockchain and token technology.” Mr McDonough, a businessman whose McDonough Management Company’s clients have included celebrities such as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, added: “It was great to work with the experienced team of attorneys at Conyers as well as the Bermuda Business Development Agency team to help us establish iCash in Bermuda.” Chris Garrod, who led the team at Conyers, said: “iCash is another example of an innovative and world-class token issuer which has chosen Bermuda for their offering. Bermuda is committed to creating a regulatory framework for vehicles using this kind of distributed ledger technology and the Bermuda Government, with the assistance from the BDA, recognize the importance this growing sector represents to the island. Mr Garrod, a Conyers director, and associates Jacqueline King and Cathryn Minors worked on the matter. The Phoenix Group, parent company of FaceOff, explained the thinking behind the new site in October last year. “We believe there is a tremendous, untapped global market opportunity to provide a platform that allows for peer-to-peer sports and e-sports challenges,” Rich Roberts, FaceOff’s chief executive officer, said. “FaceOff is going to bring together communities of people who are passionate about their favorite sports or e-sports teams and players, with those who enjoy the social aspect of challenging friends and strangers in head-to-head competitions, and those who enjoy playing skill-based games to win cash prizes.”
January 12. Training is to be given to “everyday men and women” who want to help tackle gang violence and antisocial behavior, it was revealed yesterday. Wayne Caines, Minister of National Security, said more than 100 people had expressed an interest in the new Peace Builders programme, which will cover topics that include mental health, disaster management and what to do in a crisis. Mr Caines said: “The aim is to deploy a cadre of citizens to support neighborhoods, to reduce tensions in recognized hotspots and to provide a reassuring presence in the event of a crisis. We will take the concerned citizens, the corporate entities looking to give back, parents, friends, anyone willing to serve and train them in some basic skills.” But anti-violence campaigner Desmond Crockwell warned that the ministry was focusing on the “wrong areas”. Mr Crockwell said there already were groups to provide emotional support and called for more “hardcore” initiatives. He added the ministry could make more of an impact through tougher border controls, prison legislation, whether it was rehabilitation or deterrence, and the deployment of the Royal Bermuda Regiment as a specialist force in some areas and at specific times. Mr Crockwell, chief editor of anti-violence magazine Visionz, said: “This is not the worst decision, but I think they can do better. Definitely having emotional support is part of the solution but in my opinion the entity of National Security could focus in more concrete areas, especially policy. They need to rethink their strategy and realize the potential they have to make an impact if the focus is on the hardcore decision-making areas. Under their control, I think they can do a lot more if they focused on other areas and left the social and emotional support stuff to the groups that are already out there. The Ministry of National Security was just one part of the solution. We need the sports ministry to focus on sports clubs. The department of education can do more things to make our young people more conscious of the anti-violence initiatives or campaigns.” He added that the family courts could also do more to assist “good fathers who actually want to be involved in their children’s lives”. The Peace Builders programme will send teams to support neighborhoods, reduce tensions and provide reassurance in the event of a crisis. Mr Caines explained professionals, under the leadership of pastor Leroy Bean, the island’s gang violence reduction co-ordinator, will train participants to help support their community. “What does it look like? It looks like us having six or seven Peace Builders at the bus terminal at around 4.30pm when children get out of school. Helping not to police but to manage that area. It looks like if we have a major social event, they are dispersed all around the area, trained and ready to help. Now that we know some of our young people are having to walk from CedarBridge to the bus terminal in the afternoon, we see the Peace Builders being dispersed along Parsons Road ready to help. If there is a bike accident and everyone has gone down to the hospital, as we do, the Peace Builders will be trained to intervene and to help at key locations. he initiative is an opportunity for “everyday men and women, a lot of people that are retired, a lot of people that don’t have much to do that want to get involved with a community initiative. Race doesn’t matter, party affiliation doesn’t matter, age doesn’t matter. This is Bermuda helping Bermuda get through a difficult period. The programme is led by the Ministry of National Security with security companies Security Associates and Bermuda Security Group. This kind of public-private partnership is vital on how we move together as a country to tackle the issues of gun violence and gang-related and antisocial behavior in Bermuda." The ministry wants to train 100 Peace Builders and that 119 people had expressed interest in the programme. The first training session will be held at the Heritage Worship Centre on Dundonald Street on Saturday, January 20. Mr Bean said the session would be the first of a three-part series that will cover mental health and gangs, mental health first aid and what to do during a crisis, disaster management, people’s roles at crime scenes and understanding grief. He added: “The Peace Builders is a new, exciting initiative designed to educate, to equip and to empower our community. The general concept of this initiative is to have our island prepared and ready to overcome any crises we are faced with. A crisis can range from national disaster to antisocial behavior or gang violence. The first step is to be trained and equipped to be an agent of change, be a Peace Builder.” Anyone interested can sign up by e-mailing email@example.com
January 11. Top insurance company executives and investment managers have met with David Burt, the Premier, to discuss plans for the Bermuda Infrastructure Fund.
Mr Burt tweeted a picture from the meeting yesterday, showing him shaking hands with Brian Duperreault, the chief executive officer of US insurance giant American International Group. Also in the picture is Preston Hutchings, the chief investment officer of Bermudian insurer and reinsurer Arch Capital, and members of the Fortress Bermuda Infrastructure Fund Advisers who will manage the fund. Mr Burt, who is also Minister of Finance, said in the House of Assembly in November, said the target for the fund was at least $100 million and that the capital would be invested in projects such as upgrading of the energy and sewerage infrastructure and the redevelopment of Hamilton waterfront.
January 11. Bermuda-based reinsurer RenaissanceRe is teaming up with Reinsurance Group of America to launch a new life reinsurer. Langhorne Re, which will be based in Bermuda, is backed by $780 million of initial capital committed by RenRe and RGA, as well as third-party investors. The new reinsurer will target large in-force life and annuity blocks globally. “RenaissanceRe’s experience with managing third-party capital and sophisticated risk management combined with RGA’s experience in the life market make this a very attractive partnership,” said Aditya Dutt, president, Renaissance Underwriting Managers Ltd. “As a result, we expect both clients and policyholders will benefit from our long-term approach and track record of capital stewardship. Langhorne Re will combine a strong, long-term capital base with underwriting and third-party capital management support from RGA and RenaissanceRe “to purchase large in-force life and annuity blocks, allowing clients to de-risk and optimize their capital management. Scott Cochran, executive vice-president, corporate development and acquisitions, at RGA, said: “Powered by the complementary and industry-leading capabilities of RGA and RenaissanceRe, Langhorne Re is uniquely positioned to provide competitive and flexible solutions that expand RGA’s existing client offerings.” Barclays acted as financial adviser and Sidley Austin LLP as legal adviser for Langhorne Re.
January 11. XL Catlin has estimated catastrophe losses totaling about $315 million for the fourth quarter of last year. In addition, the Bermudian-based global insurer and reinsurer will recognize a one-time charge of around $98 million in relation to US tax changes enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The charge relates to a revaluation of deferred tax assets and XL said the actual charge would depend on fourth-quarter results. But the company added: “Based on XL’s preliminary assessment, XL does not currently expect US tax reform to have a material impact going forward on its average global effective tax rate.” In a catastrophe loss update today, XL announced a preliminary estimate of about $45 million in net losses related to the recent wildfires in Southern California and another $20 million related to other events. XL had previously estimated losses of around $250 million related to the October 2017 Northern California wildfires and other events. The company also reaffirmed its previously disclosed aggregate net pre-tax losses of $1.48 billion, related to the third-quarter 2017 catastrophes, including those related to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. “Since these events, XL has continued to pay claims and receive reported loss information from its clients and brokers,” the company stated. “Ongoing assessment has resulted in approximately 6 per cent of the third quarter 2017 aggregate net losses being reallocated from the reinsurance segment to the insurance segment.” XL expects to announce its fourth-quarter results after financial markets close on February 1.
January 11. Bermuda-based reinsurance broker Beach & Associates Ltd has been bought out by Acrisure LLC. In a statement, Beach said the Michigan-based Acrisure bought the firm from New York-based private-equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The purchase is expected to close in the first quarter, pending regulatory approvals, the statement said. Beach’s office is on the fourth floor of The Roger Davidson Building on Reid Street, Hamilton. It also has offices in the US, UK, Canada and Switzerland. Beach will retain its name, identity and management, including London-based chief executive officer Grahame Millwater, and “will continue to operate as an independent advisory and transactional broking business within Acrisure”. Beach CEO Mr Millwater said: “It is difficult to imagine a more suitable way for us to transform from private-equity ownership than to become part of such an extraordinary business as Acrisure. “The cultural fit is remarkable, our business ambitions are aligned and we have a deep regard for Acrisure’s management team and their strategy. This transaction gives both us, and our clients, long-term clarity and we are excited about being afforded the support to pursue ambitious growth plans. Aquiline has been a deeply supportive investor and we are grateful for their contribution to our success so far.” Gregory Williams, CEO of Acrisure, said: “For our first acquisition outside North America, we were looking for a strong management team, international reach and significant reinsurance and insurance portfolio expertise. In Beach, we have found all of that and more. We look forward with real enthusiasm to both supporting Beach’s growth and to partnering with a world-class executive team as we grow our collective business.” Jeff Greenberg, chairman and CEO of Aquiline, said: “We have been delighted to have been associated with Beach over the past three years. Grahame and the team are first-rate insurance and reinsurance professionals, and they have found an ideal solution for their next stage of development in a future partnership with Acrisure. We wish them all the best for the future.” Last week, Aquiline led a group of investors which provided a $500 million commitment to Bermudian run-off specialist Armour, enabling the company to set up a new reinsurer. In 2005, Aquiline backed the formation of Validus Holdings, which set up as a $1 billion reinsurer in the wake of a market dislocation sparked by losses relating to hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
January 11. Four island-based executives are included in the latest power list for the captive insurance sector. Leading the way is Peter Mullen, who is at number two on the Captive Review Power 50 list, published by Captive Review magazine. Last year he was number one, but the top spot this time has gone to American-based Ellen Charnley, president of Marsh Captive Solutions. Mr Mullen, who is chief executive officer of Aon Captive and Insurance Management, came to Bermuda in 1986, and was appointed to his current role with Aon in 2011, when he moved from Bermuda-based Artex Risk Solutions. More than 6,000 votes were cast in this year’s polling period, helping London-based Captive Review to compile its definitive list of the most powerful and influential individuals globally within the captive insurance industry today. After Mr Mullen, the next Bermudian-based executive on the list is David McManus, chief executive officer of Artex. He is eighth on the list, moving up two places since last year. David Gibbons, captive insurance leader and partner at PwC Bermuda, is at 20 on the list, a fall of two places. Captive Review’s editor Richard Cutcher said: “An influential stalwart of the Bermuda captive industry, David Gibbons has chaired the growing Bermuda Captive Conference for the past two years. When he is not overseeing the delivery of solutions to a variety of captives clients on island, he is an active member within the Bermuda Business Development Agency working hard to promote the domicile and captive concept in the target markets of Canada, the United States and South America.” Mr Gibbons said: “It’s an honour to be included again in the Power 50 list and to be named among the top 20 professionals in the global captive insurance industry. It’s also a credit to Bermuda’s continued strength as a premier jurisdiction, and a great recognition of PwC Bermuda’s leading insurance practice and our dedicated captive team’s focus on bringing strategic solutions, expertise and value to our clients and the marketplace.” Bermuda’s fourth entry on the list is Brian Quinn, founding director of Granite Management Ltd. He is a new entry at number 50.
January 11. Former national security minister Jeff Baron has led calls for a Bermudian to be appointed as the next Commissioner of Police. Wayne Perinchief, also a former government minister, echoed the sentiment urging the Governor to make a local appointment. While former commissioner Jonathan Smith said it was “important but not essential” that a Bermudian took the reins. The calls came after commissioner Michael DeSilva announced on Tuesday that he would step down from the position in June after more than eight years in the top job. “First things first, Bermuda’s next commissioner should be Bermudian — without question,” Mr Baron said. “Contextual, emotional and cultural intelligence is critical for leaders in public safety. I know this first-hand as the former minister and junior minister from 2012-2017. Bermudians can lead. Embrace this fact and stop looking to abrogate leadership to foreign specialists. As Commissioner, he or she should have two central goals: making Bermuda safer and public safety reform. Falling crime rates from 2012-2017 are very encouraging but do not mean that concerns about antisocial behavior, or the state of our police service, can be brushed aside. Too often the BPS gets scapegoated for broader failures of our society and our criminal justice system. From substandard education, shortage of jobs, mismanagement of public funds and ginned-up political theatre we wrongly look at the BPS to contain and control these complex social problems. Too many of our sons reach for guns instead of textbooks, that’s our reality. Our new commissioner must stay focused to their strategic aims while appreciating, apolitically, our contemporary social problems here in Bermuda.” The present hierarchy of the BPS senior management team sees Deputy Commissioner Paul Wright under Mr DeSilva, followed by Assistant Commissioners Antoine Daniels and Martin Weeks. Below the Assistant Commissioner rank are three Superintendents James Howard, Sean Field-Lament and Darrin Simons. It is understood the Commissioner of Police position will be advertised nationally and internationally. Mr DeSilva has chosen June 15 as his last day in the job so he can complete his term as president of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police and fulfil his last official duties at the Queen’s Birthday Parade. Asked how important it was that the next Commissioner was Bermudian Mr Smith “It is important, but not essential. Four of the last seven Commissioners have been foreign-born; two of them non-Bermudian. No Governor to date has ever restricted himself in the selection. Michael will know that he is one of only five Bermudians alive who have had the honour, and it is an honour, to have occupied the Commissioner post. Nearly twenty years ago, the selection process became more rigorous following changes implemented by the Government and the Governor. The ethos and thinking remain the same. The next Commissioner will require a track record of ethics, integrity, leadership capability, an ability to think laterally and deliver strategically and operationally. The post is incredibly complex and among senior law enforcement positions, unique. The tripartite framework of the Commissioner — Minister — Governor requires a clear understanding of the Constitutional and legislated lines, and the Commissioner needs to be acutely aware of navigating that framework ethically, legally and with discipline. All that, and an ability to instil teamwork and a mission-focus are of paramount importance.” Mr DeSilva joined the police in 1985, and succeeded George Jackson as commissioner in December 2009. His appointment came during a surge in gang-related crime on the island, with three separate gun murders that same month. Eighteen months later he was awarded the Colonial Police Medal for meritorious service for his “strong achievements” in leading the force. In January 2017, Mr DeSilva was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service. Former Progressive Labour Party National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief told The Royal Gazette: “It should be a locally appointed commissioner; I would not bring in someone from abroad. But I would also advocate bringing in a team of experienced officers from the UK to help develop a strategic plan for the next five years to help the new commissioner. June is a very short window, I do not believe it would be advantageous to select from outside Bermuda. It would take a while from them to get their feet on the ground and understand the lay of the land. “At least three people have been identified who are already serving in the police force and I don’t see the need to go outside that. I’m not making any distinction between born Bermudians; these guys have been here long enough have been thoroughly Bermudianised.”
January 11. A Bermudian-born journalist has been named editorial director of an online platform geared towards women. Clare O’Connor, once a reporter at The Royal Gazette, will now be employed with Bumble, a female-first connection platform with over 26 million users worldwide. Ms O’Connor most recently worked with Forbes, a global media, branding and technology company, with a focus on news and information about business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership and affluent lifestyles. At Forbes most recently, the reporter was responsible for covering the worlds of female entrepreneurship and workplace equality in the tech industry. As Bumble’s editorial director, Ms O’Connor will work closely with Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble’s chief executive officer, and Bumble’s content team to develop editorial content for its millions of users. Ms Wolfe Herd said that “with a journalist the caliber of Clare who’s charted and championed female entrepreneurs for years, we’re putting together a dynamic team as we build out Bumble Media. “Our users have a relationship with our brand and are demanding more and more Bumble content and we’re committed to delivering that content with a team that’s as talented as they are passionate about our mission.” Ms O’Connor said: “I followed Bumble’s impressive trajectory as a reporter and very much believe in its women-first ethos. At a time when there’s a strong focus on the improvement of the status of women in every field, I’m delighted to take on this role and can’t wait to get started.” The Bumble app is free and available in the App Store and Google Play.
January 11. International recording artist Heather Nova will perform in tribute to her uncle Jeremy Frith as part of the Bermuda Festival.
Ms Nova, along with Christina Frith, will join Kim Dismont Robinson, Patrika Ferguson, Nick Hutchings, Debbie Lombardo and others for The Uniquely Bermudian Musings of Jeremy Frith and Friends. The show will highlight the work of Mr Frith, a celebrated Bermudian poet and musician who died in 2009. Mr Frith received acclaim for his 1996 collection Oh Gawd, I Vish Dis Ig’rance Vud Stop!, which featured a range of poetry and verse about life on the island, largely written in Bermudian vernacular. David Skinner, executive director of the festival, said the tribute had been in the works for a while with the Frith family interested in playing a role. “His family wanted to get involved, but the question was who was going to do what,” Mr Skinner said. “Heather stepped forward as he meant a lot to her. I know that there will be other members of the family in the audience.” The 2018 Bermuda Festival starts on Saturday, with a range of local and international artists on offer and a mix of musical and theatrical performances. “I am hard pressed to point out just one highlight,” Mr Skinner said. “There are a lot of highlights. I think one of the big things about this year’s festival is the high level of Bermudian involvement. It’s something that has been increasing over the years, but this year we are really happy with the number of talented Bermudians involved.” In addition to the tribute to Jeremy Frith, which will feature a range of Bermudian performers and artists, Mr Skinner said several young artists and groups would be competing this Saturday on the festival stage. The festival will include performances by the Cann Sisters, the Bermuda Pipe Band and the Wall Street Band. “We really want to build on that year after year,” he said. “We need to encourage our young artists and we will continue to expand on our youth outreach because there are some wonderfully talented young people in this country. There are just not enough opportunities for them to be showcased.” However, he warned that some performances had already sold out, and others were rapidly approaching that point. We are definitely encouraging people not to wait if they want to see a show,” he said. “There are still some very good seats available for some of the shows, but don’t wait until the last minute or you might not be able to enjoy what you want to see.” The Uniquely Bermudian Musings of Jeremy Frith and Friends will be held in Earl Cameron Theatre in City Hall on January 31. The show begins at 7.30pm, with tickets available online at ptix.bermudafestival.org.
January 11. Fewer fishermen and smaller annual catches tell the tale of a struggling trade, according to industry insiders. The recently released 2017 Environmental Statistics Compendium reveal that fish landings for 2016 totaled 394 metric tonnes; a drop of more than 100 metric tonnes compared with 2012. Meanwhile, the survey also suggests that an 8 per cent drop in registered fishermen for 2016 accounted for 9,403 fewer hours at sea compared with the previous year. Fishermen told The Royal Gazette that operating costs were pushing people away from the industry, while the lack of hotels meant there was not the market in Bermuda to make it a sustainable profession. “Unfortunately it’s a dying industry,” fisherman Allen DeSilva said. “The numbers don’t work any more. The operating costs are so high now, and what with the downturn in the economy and the lack of hotels, even when the fish are biting we are limited to how much we can catch. Before we could keep catching the big fish because there was always somewhere to sell them, but now there are fewer hotels, and if you get a big catch the market becomes completely saturated.” Mr DeSilva, who has fished in Bermuda for more than four decades and runs Mako Charters, added: “These days the season for charter fishing is just three months in Bermuda; you can’t live off that, so you have to be able to do another trade. I have a boat in Grenada at the moment because there simply isn’t the demand in Bermuda in the off season. It’s not the business that you want your children to go into. The fish are still there but if you cannot sell the fish, that makes it very hard. I think you’ll see fewer and fewer choosing this profession in the years to come.” The latest compendium shows that tuna and the pelagic group of fish were the most popular catch in 2016; but the size of the catch had dropped from 188mT in 2012 to 142mT in 2016. Grouper figures show three years of decline from 2014, while the Jack catch had also reduced by about 25mT in 2016 compared to 2012 The island’s total fish landings, including bait and shell fish, has reduced from 510mT in 2012 to 394mT in 2016 and has shown a decrease year on year for five years. Fisherman Michael Barnes said: “There are certainly less fishermen in the game now because it costs a lot of money to stay in the game. It’s just a huge investment to try and make money. There are also more fish getting sold under the table than there are over the table; that’s just the way it is and that has always been the case. I’m out fishing some days and there are 12 or 13 boats fishing; and I would say probably only two or three have licences. It seems like if we have a good year, the authorities then impose restrictions like the length of the season of the area we can fish.” In 2016, 277 registered fishermen spent a total of 67,709 hours at sea; a sharp drop since 2012 when there were 356 registered fishermen who spent just over 85,700 hours at sea. Not only has the number of fishermen dropped from 356 in 2012, but the number of licences handed out has declined from 200 in 2012 to 176 in 2016. In 2016, the total hours at sea per licence figure reached a five-year low of 385, compared to 429 in 2012. A spokeswoman for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said: “Yearly fish catches can vary due to a number of reasons including natural fluctuations of fish stocks, changes to the numbers of people actively fishing, shifts in the fish species targeted, and declines in fish stocks. That is why the Department of Environment and Natural Resources compares annual landings to long-term averages, and for the most part the 2016 landings are similar to, or greater than, the 15-year averages. The decline in registered fishermen and licences is due primarily to a change in reporting starting from 2013. There are 197 licences in the industry but each year there are a number of licence deferrals due to inoperable vessels. Now, only the number of active licences in a given year is reported.”
January 11. Less than an hour after ringing police to warn of a bomb in the courts, hoaxer Robert Somner stood outside the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building to watch the chaos unfold. In a Royal Gazette video of the evacuation on Monday, the 36-year-old amateur boxer could be seen leaning casually against a wall on Church Street in the company of other bystanders. Somner, who was caught on CCTV footage making the call from a Hamilton pay phone wearing the same blue hoody, was remanded into custody over the incident after a court appearance yesterday. He pleaded guilty in Magistrates’ Court to attempting to pervert the course of justice by making a 911 call to police, stating that “there is a bomb in the court building”. Somner, of Cottage Hill Road in Hamilton Parish, also admitted making a false statement that suggested there was an explosive on the premises of the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building. Prosecutor Maria Sofianos, who described the offences as a “very serious matter”, called on the courts to make an example of him. Ms Sofianos said Somner’s actions had caused a lot of inconvenience for government employees, as well as wasted time and expense. She added that the offences appeared to be an attempt by Somner to avoid dealing with a civil matter on Monday in which he owed a huge amount of money. Ms Sofianos said the Crown was seeking a “short, sharp shock as a deterrent to this individual and others” and added that Somner could face up to a year in prison along with a fine. Magistrates’ Court, Hamilton Police Station and Global House were evacuated and the area was cordoned off after an anonymous call to police claiming there was a bomb in the courts. Somner can be seen in the video footage of the incident taken by The Royal Gazette on Church Street after the buildings were evacuated. A post made on his Facebook page, under the name “Bobby Somner”, at 9.49am on the same day said: “Bomb scare at the courts this morning.” Somner told the court yesterday that he had been under a lot of stress in the past six to eight months and that this had taken a toll on his mental health. He said: “I am struggling right now. I am struggling mentally. I am struggling financially. Somner added: “I made an irrational decision and it is what it is.” Ms Sofianos told the court that Police Operations in Prospect received a 911 call at 9.22am and a male caller stated “there is a bomb in the court building” before hanging up. She said police immediately returned the call but the line appeared to connect to “what sounded like a fax line”. Police alerted the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service and various departments in the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building, instructing them to evacuate along with staff in the adjacent Global House. Emergency services blocked off the area and police contacted BAS/Serco to monitor CCTV footage of the area. The 911 call was traced to a pay phone at the back entrance of the Bermuda Telephone Company on Washington Street opposite the Hamilton Bus Terminal. Police reviewed area footage, which showed a male dressed in a blue hooded top covering his head, black pants and black sneakers at one of the pay phones. A forensic support officer attended the scene to examine the phone for DNA evidence. The Dame Lois Browne-Ewans Building was searched by police and staff but nothing suspicious was found and the all clear was given at 10.40am. Ms Sofianos added that a further review of CCTV footage showed a male wearing the same clothes in the area of Victoria Street and Cedar Avenue before walking to the bus terminal. He was then seen walking back to Court Street and into the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building a short while later. A police officer recognized the defendant from the footage and Somner was arrested at his home at around 1pm. He was taken to Hamilton Police Station where he gave a “no comment” interview. Later that day, police reviewed a YouTube video from The Royal Gazette, which featured an interview with police media relations manager Dwayne Caines. The video showed the defendant watching the proceedings with members of the public on the sidewalk across from the entrance to the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building. Ms Sofianos told the court that Somner had a committal warrant for $11,661 and that he had been contacted by a court bailiff to attend court that morning. Defence counsel Sara Tucker initially objected to Somner being remanded, and said she would be seeking an absolute discharge, to which magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo responded: “Is that a joke?” But Mr Tokunbo added that he was interested in a social inquiry report to determine: “What would drive a person in 2018 to make a call like that?” Mr Tokunbo agreed with the Crown that given the gravity of the offence, a “short, sharp shock” was warranted. He also pointed out that Somner could face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Mr Tokunbo ordered an “expedited” social inquiry report and remanded Somner in custody until February 9. Somner responded: “So any financial issues I had are now going to be made worse, basically.”
January 11. Reginald Chase, a grassroots champion of the Progressive Labour Party from its early days, has died at the age of 88. Deeply committed to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and well known across the West End, Mr Chase was among the “founding 50” honored by the PLP at its 50th anniversary in 2013. According to a church statement, Mr Chase was dedicated to community service — delivering produce from his garden to the homes of seniors, and helping provide hampers to the needy. Retired PLP parliamentarian Walter Lister, first elected as MP for Sandys North in 1976, recalled Mr Chase as “a committed, very active worker on the ground” after the party formed. Mr Lister said: “I knew him for his political stance during my very early days in the party in the Sixties and early Seventies. He was very active on the ground helping the branch develop and helping to get people elected. Fortunately enough, he lived to see his efforts bear fruit with the election of the PLP not once, but twice.” Mr Lister called him “very much a labor man — a quiet man who was very, very focused. You never saw his name in the paper, but without him, we would not be where we are.” While he held key posts at his church on Beacon Hill, Mr Chase preferred to work for the PLP without seeking executive positions. A mason and house painter as well as a keen fisherman, Mr Chase often provided fish for party fundraisers. He kept a boat at Ely’s Harbour and “loved to go out on the water for a day of fishing — he was one of the successful ones”, Mr Lister said. A celebration of his life will be held today at 2pm, at the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Beacon Hill.
January 11. Prosecutors today alleged that a Welsh accountant made more than 50 bogus payments — including to the Sylvia Richardson Care Facility — while personally cashing in. Jeffrey Bevan, 50, has been charged with his wife, Samantha, 52, and two others with a raft of charges related to the alleged theft of almost $2.5 million from the Bermuda Government. They have denied the offences, with Mr Bevan saying the money was for “overtime” earned while working in the office of the Accountant-General of Bermuda. According to the South Wales Argus, the prosecution launched its case today. Prosecutor Tim Evans said Mr Bevan worked for the Bermuda Government for nearly three years before leaving the country, blaming his mother’s poor health and his children’s education. An investigation in Bermuda found a series of bogus payments during his time of employment, including a $71,000 payment to the Sylvia Richardson Care Facility and $89,000 to Chevron International. Mr Evans said the investigation revealed the payments had gone into Mr Bevan’s HSBC account in Bermuda. By the time the fake payments were discovered, Mr Evans said Mr Bevan had already left the island. Mr Evans said: “Mr Bevan had gone by then. He went because he knew that he was about to be rumbled for a massive fraud.” In total, Mr Evans said 52 bogus payments were identified by investigators, with the funds being transferred from Mr Evan’s Bermuda account to Britain. That money was used to buy a Mercedes Benz and properties in Newport, Swansea, Glasgow and Nottingham, along with paying off Mr and Mrs Bevan’s £140,000 mortgage. Mr Bevan reportedly claimed that the payments were for overtime while working for the Bermuda Government, saying he would work as much as 50 hours of overtime on top of his 35-hour week. Mr Evans said: “His defence will be that every cent of the $2.4 million was effectively overtime, over and above his basic and overtime hours, presumably tax free, and paid voluntarily and legitimately by the Bermuda Government.” But the prosecutor said members of the Bermuda Government would give evidence “about how ridiculous his claim is”. Mr Evans said that Mrs Bevan must have been aware of the illegal funds, saying she would have noticed the money appearing in their account. “She is an intelligent woman who had been headmistress,” Mr Evans said. “Her husband had amassed large amounts of money and she must have at the very least suspected that it was the proceeds of dishonest criminal conduct.” Mr Evans also told the jury he was being prosecuted in Britain because “put simply, he is over here. Bermuda cannot prosecute”. He added: “Given that the original crimes alleged against him were on Bermuda soil he cannot be prosecuted for those back in the UK either. It is a criminal offence to move the proceeds of a crime between bank accounts. Of the $2.4 million that went into their bank accounts in Bermuda, $441,995.63 appears to have been spent over there. Of the balance of about $2 million it was transferred into UK bank accounts. £1,325,477.39 found its way to the UK. That is a criminal offence.” Mr and Mrs Bevan, of Cwmbran, collectively deny 13 counts of converting criminal property and three counts of transferring criminal property. Joel Ismail and Paul Charity, both from Leicester, have also been charged with converting criminal property. Mr Charity has further been charged with perverting the course of justice by deleting e-mails linked to the offences. The trial, being held in Cardiff Crown Court, is expected to last eight weeks.
January 10. Four people accused of laundering $2.5 million stolen from the Bermuda Government are to go on trial in Wales this week. Husband and wife Jeffrey and Samantha Bevan, Joel Ismail and Paul Charity all deny charges related to the theft of the cash, Wales Online reported today. Judge Michael Fitton QC said: “This case involves allegations of fraud arising from work for the Bermuda Government and the purchase of properties, not just in South Wales but elsewhere.” The four were charged in the wake of a number of financial transactions alleged to have been made by Mr Bevan when he worked in the Accountant-General’s office in Bermuda. The funds are claimed to have been transferred out of the country through an island financial institution. The alleged theft was not discovered until after Mr Bevan and his wife left Bermuda. All of the offences are alleged to have taken place between May 2011 and February 2014. Mr Bevan, 50, from Cwmbran, Wales, has denied charges of theft, converting criminal property and transferring criminal property. Ms Bevan, 52, has denied converting criminal property. Mr Ismail, 42, from Leicester, denied converting criminal property and Mr Charity, 52, also from Leicester, has denied converting criminal property and attempting to pervert the course of justice. The charges came after a four-year police investigation that involved the Bermuda Police Service and the Regional Organized Crime Unit in Wales. The trial at Cardiff Crown Court started yesterday with jury selection. The jury was told they would hear evidence from a number of witnesses, including testimony by video link from Bermuda. Bermuda Police Service officers and officials from the Bermuda Government are scheduled to give evidence. The trial is expected to last about eight weeks.
January 10. Police uncovered a plot to smuggle fentanyl into Bermuda when a drugs mule fell sick and required emergency treatment, a court heard. Jacqueline Robinson swallowed 45 pellets of the drug before traveling from Toronto to Bermuda with her boyfriend Craig Lawrence in December 2016, a jury at the Supreme Court was told yesterday. The pair stayed at the Hamilton Princess Hotel and Beach Club where Ms Robinson fell seriously ill after regurgitating most of the pellets and had to be rushed to hospital, prompting police to launch an investigation. Jurors have been told that Ms Robinson admitted her role in the drug smuggling operation and will give evidence against Mr Lawrence, and a third man, Maurice Martin, later in the trial. Prosecutors allege that Mr Lawrence was part of the conspiracy to bring the drugs to Bermuda and supply them to others, while Mr Martin collected the pellets of fentanyl from the hotel to supply to others. Opening the case for the Crown yesterday, prosecutor Alan Richards said: “We are alleging that there was an agreement in the first instance between Mr Lawrence, Ms Robinson and others to import the controlled drugs. “The controlled drug in question is fentanyl, a synthetic opiate related to heroin, and you will hear it is a very powerful drug indeed.” Mr Richards added: “Our case is that Mr Martin was involved in collecting the pellets of fentanyl that Robinson had swallowed and regurgitated, and it can be inferred that those drugs were for onwards supply given the quantity and purity.” Mr Lawrence and Ms Robinson arrived in Bermuda on board a WestJet flight from Canada on December 15, 2016. Mr Richards told jurors that the couple had originally planned to stay at the Windsong Guest Apartments, but ended up at the Hamilton Princess Hotel because they had not made a reservation. “It is our case that they were accompanied on that journey to the Windsong apartments by Mr Martin, who is a resident in Bermuda, although he did not travel in the same car,” he added. “That was the start of his involvement.” Ms Robinson fell seriously ill on December 20, 2016, while at the Hamilton Princess, having regurgitated 44 of the 45 pellets she had swallowed, the court heard. Former hotel employee, Gene-Anne Bean, described attending the couple’s room and seeing a woman sprawled across a chair on the balcony. “I asked the hotel’s head of security whether she was dead. He said he was not sure but that paramedics were on their way,” Ms Bean said. “I felt for a pulse in her neck. I could not feel one. She was puffy and swollen. I went into the bathroom to get a cloth, I wet the towel and dabbed it around her neck. Then the paramedics came.” Mr Richards told the Supreme Court that Mr Martin was also involved in securing the couple accommodation at the Hamilton Princess. He said: “We say that clearly the plan was for Robinson to stay there with Lawrence, with whom she was to some extent in a relationship, and pass the pellets of fentanyl that she consumed. Lawrence was involved in the process of cleaning them up and arranging for them to be collected. Martin was the person who came to the room on a number of occasions to collect the capsules.” Prosecutors said that one of the pellets containing fentanyl must have ruptured causing Ms Robinson to become seriously ill. Mr Lawrence was also taken to hospital for “ill effects from exposure to the fentanyl”; although his condition was less severe. Mr Lawrence denies conspiracy to import a controlled drug and also conspiracy to supply a controlled drug. Mr Martin denies conspiracy to supply a controlled drug. The case continues.
January 10. Bermuda’s Commissioner of Police is to retire in the summer after 32 years of service. Michael DeSilva will step down in June after more than eight years in the top job, he said last night. It is understood the job will be advertised nationally and internationally. Mr DeSilva said: “It was not an easy decision to retire and leave a career of over 32 years in the making. I am passionate about policing and I have dedicated my entire adult life to public service.” He added: “I am grateful to all of my colleagues, past and present, for their support and commitment during my tenure. It has been an honour and a privilege to lead so many dedicated and skilled police officers, support staff, reserves and cadets. I am proud of the significant impact we have made in helping to reduce violence, but there is more to be done. After eight years as commissioner, it is the right time to let someone else lead the BPS from its senior post and continue the mission of making Bermuda safer.” Mr DeSilva picked June 15 as his last day in the job so he could complete his term as president of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police and his last official duties at the Queen’s Birthday Parade. He said: “The time is also right for me to move on to the next chapter.” Mr DeSilva added: “It has been deeply rewarding to serve the community as a police officer. The experience has shaped my life both as a professional and as a person. I shall remember it fondly.” Wayne Caines, Minister of National Security, described Mr DeSilva as a “consummate professional of unparalleled commitment to policing and the safety of Bermuda”. Mr Caines added: “Since his appointment in 2009, the paradigm shift in policing Bermuda has been led head-on by Commissioner DeSilva. Successive ministers and governments have benefited from his counsel and perspective on a variety of issues and at no time have I known him to give other than his very best for Bermuda.” Mr Caines said Mr DeSilva brought “invaluable local knowledge and understanding to complex social issues that have confronted the Bermuda Police Service during his tenure”. Governor John Rankin confirmed Mr DeSilva had informed of his intention to retire in June. Mr Rankin said: Mr DeSilva has served the people of Bermuda with distinction for over 32 years as a member of the Bermuda Police Service, including as Commissioner for the past eight years. “As Governor I have seen for myself the respect in which he is held both by his police colleagues and also by the wider community with whom he works. In line with international best practice, the recruitment of Mr DeSilva’s successor as Commissioner will be carried out by a process based on the principles of merit, fairness and openness.” Michael Dunkley, the former premier and national security minister, extended his “best wishes and deep appreciation” to Mr DeSilva. Mr Dunkley added: “Being the Commissioner of Police is a very difficult and demanding job. I recall clearly the day Commissioner DeSilva assumed the position when the community was rocked by violence. The responsibility never became easier, but through it all he conducted himself and led the BPS with professionalism and dedication.” The former premier said that he had always found Mr DeSilva to be “well prepared, calm and in control of every situation”. Mr Dunkley added: “Bermuda is losing a very competent and accomplished public servant who served without fear or favour.” Jeff Baron, another former national security minister, said Mr DeSilva “made advancing justice and public safety for all of our families his top priority and worked to make Bermuda feel safer as well as being safer”. Mr Baron added: “We will miss Mike’s leadership with the Emergency Measures Organisation and the BPS. My family and I wish him well and join the people of Bermuda in thanking him for his many years of service.” Mr DeSilva joined the police in 1985, and succeeded George Jackson as commissioner in December 2009. His appointment came during a surge in gang-related crime on the island, with three separate gun murders that same month. Eighteen months later, he was awarded the Colonial Police Medal for meritorious service for his “strong achievements” in leading the force. Mr DeSilva’s tenure also coincided with budget pressures and occasionally tense negotiations with the Bermuda Police Association. Another period of strain for the force followed the clash between police and demonstrators blocking the gates to Parliament in December 2016, when pepper spray was used on protesters. In January 2017, Mr DeSilva was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service, with Government House citing his “authority, sensitivity and skill”. He was further commended for the drop in gang and gun crime under his watch.
January 10. The reversal of marriage equality in Bermuda continues to make international headlines, with a British newspaper reporting this week on the “devastation” of a couple whose cruise ship wedding has been cancelled. The Sun newspaper reported yesterday that Stephen Henderson, 29, and Stuart Andrews, 36, from Coventry, Warwickshire, were due to get married on a Bermuda-registered P&O cruise ship in July 2019 in the Bay of Biscay but were told by the cruise line on December 20 that their wedding could not take place. P&O, which ran a marketing campaign last year encouraging gay couples to wed on board its ships, explained to the couple that the Government of Bermuda was replacing same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships and offered a full refund. But Mr Henderson told the tabloid newspaper: “It is just mad. It is the 21st century. It is the most important day of our lives. We were planning so much already. We got everything organized.” A P&O spokeswoman told the UK’s Pink News last month that it was “very unhappy” with the Government’s decision to reverse marriage equality and did “not underestimate the disappointment this will cause those guests who have planned their weddings”. A spokeswoman told this newspaper yesterday that the May 2017 Supreme Court decision which allowed gay marriage in Bermuda had “delighted” the cruise line as it had wanted to offer same-sex ceremonies for “many years”. She said the introduction of domestic partnerships under a Bill passed by Parliament last month would “replace or overturn” that court ruling. “Although we are awaiting further information from Bermuda, it is unfortunately likely to be the case that Bermudian law will not permit a same-sex wedding ceremony on board our ships after January 2018,” added the spokeswoman. She said P&O Cruises would still love to welcome gay couples on board for a commitment or renewal of vows ceremony, officiated by the captain or a senior officer. The spokeswoman did not answer questions from this newspaper about how many P&O customers would be affected by wedding cancellations and whether the reversal of marriage equality would impact whether the cruise line registered its ships in Bermuda in the future. The Domestic Partnership Act has yet to be approved by John Rankin, the Governor, who has taken legal advice on the legislation. It cannot become law without his assent. A Government House spokesman said: “The Constitution does not stipulate a timeframe for assenting to Bills. It will take as long as is needed for the Governor to satisfy himself as to its compliance with the Constitution and international obligations. There are a number of legal arguments which have been put forward and need to be properly considered.” Couples whose marriage banns are posted before the law comes into effect will still be able to wed, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs. That includes another couple from the UK who are due to marry on January 17 on board a P&O ship. Vicky Marno and Siobhan Crosby, from Skegness, said yesterday that their ceremony in the Caribbean on board Azura was still fine to go ahead.
January 10. Cunard cruise liners Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth have cancelled their calls in Bermuda because of bad weather in the North Atlantic. The two ships were due to arrive in Dockyard on Sunday and signal the beginning of the island’s 2018 cruise season. However the Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre reported today that both vessels had cancelled their Bermuda calls “due to weather encountered on crossing”. Heavy weather in the Atlantic has forced Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth to head straight to their next ports of Port Everglades and New York respectively. It would have been the inaugural visit for the Bermuda-registered Queen Elizabeth. The luxury liner, which carries 1,900 passengers and 980 crew, is Cunard’s newest cruise ship. The ship left Southampton in England on its 122-night world tour at the weekend and is scheduled to visit to 39 ports in 25 countries. A press release from the Bermuda Government said today: “The ships’ captains have determined the best course of action is to bypass Bermuda and proceed directly to their next ports of call in the United States.” It said both ships were originally scheduled to be at the West End for a 7½-hour call on Sunday.
January 10. A Bermudian described yesterday being caught in a travel nightmare in New York caused by a massive winter storm. But despite days of delays, Sarah Fellows said she felt the ordeal had been a positive learning experience for her 12-year-old son. Ms Fellows, an employee at The Royal Gazette, said: “I was thinking at least he is experiencing this with me because he travels a lot. I would have hated for him to have gone through by himself.” The pair flew to John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday afternoon. Ms Fellows’s son was due to catch a flight to Madrid, Spain, the next morning. She planned to travel back to Bermuda on Sunday after putting her son on the Air Europa flight. However, the impact of the winter storm became clear when the pair arrived in the baggage hall and hundreds of suitcases and bags lined the floor. Ms Fellows added: “There were a lot of really distraught people.” The pair waited in the baggage hall with other passengers from their Delta Air Lines flight. Ms Fellows said: “We sort of connected because you recognize people on the plane. We spent the next 6½ hours waiting for the luggage to arrive.” Ms Fellows said she knew she would not be heading back to Bermuda on Sunday after her son’s flight was cancelled. She explained: “I needed to stay in New York with my son.” Passengers set to travel on the cancelled Air Europa flight were bused to a hotel on Long Island for the night. Ms Fellows said: “We got there at around 4am.” The pair headed back to the airport early on Monday morning for the flight her son had been rebooked on by the airline. The new flight also proved problematic, as it meant her son would have to stay overnight in Madrid without a chaperon. A burst water pipe in Terminal 4 on Monday afternoon which forced an evacuation and a power outage added to the chaos at the airport, she said. Ms Fellows said her son was finally able to fly out on Monday night at 10pm. She ultimately arrived back home in Bermuda yesterday afternoon following additional delays. Ms Fellows explained: “I spent a couple of hours on the tarmac because of an indicator that wasn’t working. I can’t imagine what other Bermudians have gone through.”
January 10. Volunteers are needed to sustain “community conversations” from the group Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda, which reported a successful first year. Feedback from the race talks are “clearly showing that we are on the right track”, according to Curb president Lynne Winfield. Now the group faces a challenge in maintaining the popular endeavor, aimed at fostering understanding. “What is amazing is to witness the people who come into the room, and can’t wait for the next session,” Ms Winfield said. “People realize they are part of an important process that is helping them and broadening their understanding of a complex issue.” But she acknowledged concerns about continuing the venture, which she called “a big worry” for the group. “As a completely volunteer organisation, reliant on charitable giving, we face a huge task in sustaining the community conversations moving forward.” Two rounds of talks, which are ultimately hoped will build a critical mass of at least 1,000 participants, went ahead in 2016. The Royal Gazette spoke anonymously with persons who had taken part in the seven-week Truth and Reconciliation Community Conversations, announced in January 2017. A 61-year-old black Bermudian participant called it “a good experience”, having joined in both this year’s sessions. She said: “In the latest one, people were more expressive — it was very emotional. I left feeling that Bermuda is not as far ahead as we think we are — we are still divided.” However, she felt heartened to learn that “you can have an influence. I believe I can still make a difference for my country that I love. We can make examples for others to follow. We have all the right material — I just don’t know what’s going to happen.” She was skeptical that white Bermudians could candidly listen to the experiences of black Bermudians. She recalled one white participant telling the group that “she was in some kind of tunnel — she saw one part of the country and never saw the other half”. She added: “That leaves you kind of like a horse with blinkers. She was amazed.” Discussions revealed widely different experiences between black and whites, such as being pulled over while abroad and being asked “where you got the car from. That’s when we got more emotional — when stories started to come out.” Ms Winfield noticed that at the close of each session “there is a real reluctance to finish — and some have committed to sustaining the conversations in their own groups”. Ms Winfield added: “People come to the TRCC for different reasons, with different needs. Some come with certain expectations, and some with their own personal agenda. The challenge is to meet those needs as best we can in a facilitated and supportive environment. Some come to tell their stories and share their pain; others come because they know something is wrong and wish to understand why there is ongoing division in our community; others come because they want action and to find a way forward. There are those in the room who still have hope, despite their overwhelming disillusion and pain with the discrimination they have experienced.” Ms Winfield said that 95 per cent of feedback was “positive” — and Curb was using suggestions to adjust the talks. In 2018, she said, “we will be reaching out to the people of Bermuda to help us continue to provide this important resource to our community. We will seek help from the business community and Government. Most importantly, we will be seeking individuals who are willing to be trained in restorative practices and racial justice to help continue the work by volunteering their time and energy.” A black Bermudian recalled telling a black friend that he had signed up — only to get the response: “Why are you bothering talking with white people? Use your energy to build up our (black) community first!” He said: “This somewhat surprised me, but I understood where he was coming from. There are a myriad of philosophies in regards to improving race relations ranging from focusing exclusively on strengthening the black community first, to direct engagement with white Bermudians. I figure both can be progressed in tandem. One doesn’t have to take priority over the other.” He admitted to holding “reservations about Curb” that were allayed after meeting Ms Winfield and the facilitators who guided the talks. “Over those seven weeks, the participants were able to voice their opinions and outlook on many topics like, for example, the Bermudian ‘history’ we’ve been taught. The facilitators created a safe environment where most felt comfortable to honestly and openly express their feelings.” At the close of the seven weeks, he said all members agreed that “these conversations must continue. It’s not about getting white people to ‘like us’ or ‘accept us’,” he said. “If we can get black and white Bermudians in a place where they are open to listen to each other, then the ‘education’ begins. But it is also about ‘changing minds’ so ‘preaching to the converted’ is almost a waste of time. We’ve got to bring people together who don’t normally interact except on a superficial level.” He added: “A try is better than grumbling that nothing will change.” A 67-year-old black male joined after discovering “how much ignorance there seemed to be by older white males (even those who I thought to be liberal and progressive or very logical and ethical) about significant themes in the black Bermuda world”. Few white Bermudian males seemed to take part, he said, while “plenty” of white female participants joined. “The exercise requires that one must not come with an agenda to win ‘converts’ or to ‘educate the uneducated’. This would probably be very difficult for most males and would be extremely unusual for the typical Bermuda scenario, which depends on a structured social pecking order in which unpleasant topics are avoided.” Curb’s next round of talks start on January 30. To learn more, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 9. Poorer families will not be unfairly targeted by a sugar tax, the Ministry of Health said yesterday. The consultation paper on the tax explained that the proposal is designed to help people be healthier and discourage importers from bringing in high-sugar products. The document, released at the start of an eight-week public consultation period, said: “The sugar tax will be applied to items identified as non-nutritive, luxury items. The goal is not to impose a tax that unfairly targets low-income families, but will encourage better choices at the checkout counter and encourage healthier imports from the wholesalers.” The document added that evidence from other countries showed that an increased price led to a drop in consumption, which resulted in “an increase in health benefits”. And it said: “Persons with a low income also feel unfairly the effects of bad health, which can lead to an excess in spending on healthcare.” The document was published as the ministry launched its public consultation to “seek views on the detailed policy design rather than to seek views on alternative proposals”. A spokeswoman said: “The prevalence of obesity and diabetes is one of the highest among the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development countries. The Government began the consultative process by setting out specific objectives and identifying options. The current stage is determining the best option and developing a framework for implementation including detailed policy design.” The proposal looks at a list of items for “added levies at the point of their importation into Bermuda”. While other jurisdictions have focused on sugary drinks, the proposal for Bermuda includes food items such as candies and plain sugar. The document added that the goal of the sugar tax “is to curb unwanted consumption of these foods which contribute no nutritional value to our daily diets”. But the Government plans will not include milk-based drinks or alcoholic drinks in the tax. The document also said that the Government wanted to reduce the duty on imported water from 35 per cent to 0 per cent to encourage consumers to drink that rather than sugary drinks. The 20-page consultation document listed a series of questions the ministry wants public views on, including whether the duty rate should be set at 75 per cent or 150 per cent. The consultation period will run until March 1 and the tax is expected to become law later this year. Michelle Jackson, executive vice-president of group insurance at The Argus Group, said: “We welcome the Government’s public consultation on the proposed sugar tax and actively support the Ministry of Health’s efforts to promote healthy lifestyles.” Print copies of the consultation document are available from the health ministry’s offices in the Continental Building on Hamilton’s Church Street and at gov.bm/health-public-consultations. The questionnaire can also be found on the government website, as well as https://goo.gl/forms/86QbP1rWx91Y3hO32. For more information, call 278-4900 or email health email@example.com
Items to be included in the sugar tax listed in the consultation document:
January 9. Oracle Team USA’s former base at Dockyard will provide the main hub for the International Moth World Championships, which Bermuda will host in the spring. Somers Kempe, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club rear commodore for international sailing events, confirmed that Oracle’s former base inside the South Basin has been designated as the race village and launch area for the international regatta, featuring the high-performance foiling Moth dinghy. “It’s more space and the facility lends itself well to those boats,” Kempe said. “We last ran the Amlin Moth Regatta out of Barr’s Bay Park, which is another good location, but the Oracle base has other advantages — especially if you can use the sheds area which is more protection for the boats.” The International Moth World Championships will take place from March 25 to April 1, with all racing taking place on the Great Sound, the venue for last year’s America’s Cup. The event will showcase some of the sailors that competed in that competition. “A bunch of the America’s Cup guys will be coming and we have to think they are going to have a leg up on a number of other people coming in and sailing on that body of water for the first time,” Kempe said. “A lot of America’s Cup guys are in that class now and we should see a few of them actually make the trip back to Bermuda to participate in the Moth Worlds.” Australian Nathan Outteridge, the 2014 Moth world champion and Artemis Racing helmsman at the America’s Cup, is expected to be among the racing fleet. Several Bermudians are expected to compete, with Benn Smith having already revealed his intentions to participate. “That will be my second Moth event, as I did the Amlin event a year ago and came top Bermudian,” Smith said. The Moth World Championships will be preceded by the two-day Bermuda National Moth Championships, which place on March 23 and 24. “The Bermuda National Moth Championships is going to be used as a warm-up regatta,” Kempe said. “A lot of the guys that are coming down to do the worlds are going to sail the nationals ahead of it to practice in the location and maybe test out some gear. There will be a lot of sailors coming to the island with some experiencing Bermuda for the first time.”
January 9. Hundreds of unusual feathered visitors have touched down at LF Wade International Airport in a bid to dodge severe weather in North America. Bird preservation group the Audubon Society said more than 1,000 plovers, also known as killdeer, have been spotted at the airport and elsewhere during the past few days. The shorebirds have been sighted in gardens and on parks, football pitches, beaches and golf courses from Somerset to St George’s. Hundreds have set up temporary home at the airport. Killdeer can be found across the Americas, including Canadian provinces like Ontario, southern parts of Alaska, the southern half of the United States and parts of Peru. But recent blizzards and strong winds in the US have forced a move across the Atlantic in a search for milder weather. Audubon Society president Andrew Dobson said: “As a result of the severe winter storm Grayson in eastern North America, there has been a massive arrival of killdeer this week. Their plaintive high call may draw people’s attention. In fact, they were known as the noisy plover in the 18th century. The killdeer is active both day and night and can often be heard calling overhead in the darkness.”
January 9. Court reports were ordered on a man who admitted having cocaine and drug equipment. Magistrates’ Court heard that Nelson Pacheco, 32, was stopped by police while driving along Reid Street on February 9 last year. The officers found several plastic twists containing white powder under his motorbike seat. Officer’s later searched Pacheco’s Hamilton Parish home and found a digital scale and a red metal grinder. Lab tests later confirmed that the twists contained 0.41g of cocaine and the scale and the grinder both had traces of cannabis. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo adjourned sentencing until the end of next month and ordered a Social Inquiry Report and a drug assessment on Pacheco. Pacheco was released on $3,000 bail and ordered to observe drug treatment court.
January 9. An island mobile phone customer hammered with a bill for more than $1,500 after a trip to the Middle East hopes her experience will help other people avoid massive charges. Last night, Debbie Jones said that phone firm One Communications had also told her that she could still be billed for 60 days after she returned from the trip. She said: “I never knew that even if you turn your phone off, even if you’re not using it, they’re still going to charge you.” Ms Jones traveled to Canada and then went on to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates from December 1 to 8. She said she visited One Communications’ Hamilton headquarters before she traveled to buy roaming clearance. Ms Jones explained she was told that the company had a roaming deal with Canada, but none with Abu Dhabi. But she said she was left in the dark about the scale of the potential charges in the Middle East. Ms Jones, 63, said: “People in my age group aren’t used to this technology — we pay our bills, we’re good customers, but we need this to be made clear. It wasn’t explained at all. The moment your phone comes into a country like that, the towers pick up your phone. Just having your phone is enough to get charged. You have to disable your phone completely and power it off.” Ms Jones said she got a message from One that she had built up charges of more than $500 three days after she arrived in Abu Dhabi. She contacted her husband in Bermuda and asked him to find out from One how she could stop the charges. Ms Jones said he emailed her instructions on how to remove roaming from her phone and also paid her excess charges. But even though she believed her phone had been disabled she was later billed for a further $1,000 — and was warned when she got home she might be liable for more charges for up to two months after she left the UAE. She said the extra charges would depend on where her phone might have registered during her travels in Abu Dhabi. Ms Jones said the company’s staff should have appreciated that “this is a really different world for people in my age group”. She added: “It would really have helped if I had been given something in writing when I asked about Abu Dhabi — I don’t understand why they can’t just give you a little card to explain what to do.” The Royal Gazette yesterday contacted One Communications for comment but the firm had not replied by press time.
January 9. A man yesterday denied the gun murder of Perry Puckerin Jr. Jeremiah Dill, 34, pleaded not guilty in the Supreme Court to charges of premeditated murder and using a firearm to commit murder. Mr Dill, from Pembroke, was remanded in custody for a further court appearance next Monday. Mr Puckerin, 34, was shot in Hamilton Parish Workman’s Club in January 2010. Josef Vleck also appeared at the arraignments session. Mr Vleck denied the importation of $8.5 million of heroin to the island on September 23 last year. The 47-year-old, a resident of the Czech Republic, also denied possession of the drugs with intent to supply. He is expected to return to the Supreme Court for trial on March 19. Barry Richards denied a charge of causing grievous bodily harm by driving without due care and attention on September 17 last year. Mr Richards is also expected to return to the Supreme Court next Monday.
January 8. MS Amlin has set up a new Bermuda-domiciled sidecar with more than $60 million of capital backing. The global re/insurer with offices in Bermuda, the UK and continental Europe, said the new special purpose insurer, Viribus Re Ltd, would provide collateralized capacity support for MS Amlin Syndicate 2001’s global reinsurance portfolio in 2018. Viribus Re Ltd has entered into a quota share agreement with MS Amlin, from the start of this year, under which it will reinsure a share of MS Amlin’s worldwide property catastrophe excess of loss portfolio. MS Amlin said capital had been committed by a number of third-party investors, including MS Amlin, which has committed $5 million. James Few, global managing director of reinsurance at MS Amlin, said: “This is an important long-term strategic initiative for MS Amlin as we continue to seek ways to build capacity and relationships with capital market partners, whilst providing us with greater scope and flexibility to support the evolving needs of our clients. We are delighted to have secured funding for Viribus Re Ltd from a range of new partners whom we look forward to working with closely in the future.”
January 8. Opinion. By Nathan Kowalski CPA, CA, CFA, CIM, chief financial officer of Anchor Investment Management Ltd. Views expressed are his own. “The bottom line remains: forecasts and predictions are exercises in marketing. Outrageous and wrong forecasts are typically forgotten, and when one randomly happens to come true, the guru is lauded as the next Nostradamus” — Barry Ritholtz, Bloomberg View columnist, December 17, 2016. In January 2017, I laid out 12 unexpected events or surprise situations that were, at the time, outside of the conventional consensus opinion that I felt had a reasonable chance of occurring. Remember that I personally believe forecasting is absolute rubbish in general, but to keep me honest, let’s go back and take a look at how these surprises panned out:
Full disclosure: Facebook and Alphabet are owned by the author and clients of Anchor Investment Management Ltd. at time of writing.
January 8. Looking to liven a dead space, Mark Soares renovated the former cruise ship terminal at Ordnance Island in time for the America’s Cup. Artists added a bit of colour last month. Architect and designer Aurora Porter curated an exhibit of works by Christina Hutchings, Peter Lapsley, Charles Zuill, Andrea Sundt, Cal Booth and Chris Cabral. “We both have an interest in art and supporting local art,” said Mr Soares, owner of Bermuda Yacht Services. “It was a multi-purpose event. It helps to promote the artists; it helps to show the space and the work that we did to more locals.” Ms Porter also gave advice as he transformed the terminal into a “contemporary” lounge and office, giving it a “nautical theme” for visiting yachtsmen. “She has a very modern style. I did most of the work myself and with my guys — it came out as a really beautiful space,” said Mr Soares, who has work by a few of the artists on display in his home on Smith’s Island.“ Charles Zuill is from St George’s and is an amazing modern artist. We thought it would be something good for the artists, something good for St George’s and a great way to showcase the space as well.” He hopes it is the first of similar events. “It’s such a contemporary setting for Bermuda,” he said. “It was great to be part of this event. It offered a perfect opportunity to show off our new space while supporting Bermuda art and bringing some folks down to the beautiful Town of St George. We tried to build something different and make good use of a dead space — and attract yachts to our town. Hopefully they will come more frequently and stay longer and enjoy Bermuda.” BYS has been around for more than ten years. Mr Soares took it over six years ago. The company manages the docks in the town and is hoping to build a marina in St George’s this year. “We were one of the main folks involved in taking care of all the yachts that were here for the America’s Cup. During the America’s Cup we were absolutely full. We had some of the biggest yachts in the world right in front of the office. The captains were skyping their family, working and using the facility as a crew lounge. That was the concept of it from the beginning. When I took over the docks six years ago, occasionally we’d get some visiting yachts. Now we have as many as five or six of the largest superyachts in the world right in front of the building all paying dockage fees to the town. It’s been a great thing to see and it’s great for the town. In off-season we can use the space for other purposes — functions, shows — but ultimately, the goal is to use it for what it was designed for, a good-looking crew lounge.” A captain for ten years, Mr Soares worked for a Bermudian family in the Mediterranean in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter. When he returned to the island he saw a need for more services catering to the yachting industry. “It’s a $32 billion a year industry. They come right past Bermuda. We may never be an Antigua or a St Barts, but we can certainly encourage more yachts to come here,” he said. As such, his priority is getting the marina built. “It would be great to see it come to fruition. Morgan’s Point and the [Hamilton] Princess are wonderful marinas — what that does is offer more choice to the yachts to make us a more legitimate destination. All of those things are positive in our eyes.” He said the energy during the America’s Cup was a boost. “It was the largest America’s Cup superyacht programme in history, on an island where we very rarely host more than one or two superyachts at a time. We went from two staff to 25 and we were catering to the needs of 80 superyachts. Bermuda got an amazing amount of exposure from the event in the yachting community.” For more information visit bdayacht.com and stgeorgesmarina.com.
January 7. Sunday. Long-serving Bermuda Reserve Police officer Dawn Darby yesterday died at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. Ms Darby was 55. Michael DeSilva, Commissioner of Police, said Ms Darby “will be remembered fondly for her pleasant manner, positive attitude and highly active volunteer service.” He added: “She will be a great miss to the BPS family.” Sandy Beach, Bermuda Reserve Police Commandant, added: “We have lost a community servant, a woman who gave her all to ensure Bermuda was always at its best. The Bermuda Reserve Police extends our sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of our dear PC 1181 Dawn Darby. May she rest in peace.” Ms Darby joined the reserves in 1994 and spent her whole career in the western division. She was promoted to acting sergeant in 1998 and was confirmed in the rank in 2003. Ms Darby also served several periods as an acting inspector. She was commended for her work several times and enjoyed community policing in Dockyard in the peak summer season. When the reserve service was restructured in 2015 and the rank structure changed, Ms Darby opted to quit supervisory duty and asked to be returned to the rank of constable and continue to serve on the front line. The request was granted and Ms Darby worked mostly with the western community action team. She was given a long service award and was also awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal.
January 6. Mystery surrounds the progress of a report into the controversial airport redevelopment. Walter Roban, Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, told The Royal Gazette last October: “Our goal is to finish by December.” Questions sent to the Ministry of Transport on the status of the report were not responded to by press time. The public-private partnership agreement with the Canadian Commercial Corporation and its contractor Aecon was signed by the former One Bermuda Alliance government. The deal was blasted by the Progressive Labour Party while in Opposition and sparked a blockade of the House of Assembly by protesters in December 2016 in an attempt to prevent MPs from debating legislation designed to set up the public-private partnership. The Bermuda Airport Authority and LeighFisher, a US-based global consultancy firm, were asked to carry out the review after the PLP won a landslide General Election victory last July. Mr Roban previously told this newspaper that the review of the deal began shortly after the PLP won the election. David Burt, the Premier, said the deal was a “decision to privatize” the airport in August. He added: “The former government made the decision to privatize the LF Wade International Airport to Canadian company Aecon.” The independent Blue Ribbon Panel, set up by the OBA early last year, said the deal was “commercially sound and reasonable”. The panel added the contract was “likely to meet” the previous government’s objectives of long-term sustainability, increased traffic volume and more revenue, but said that “clearer disclosure of the transaction” would have benefited the project.
January 6. Bermuda has again been linked with an international racing circuit being touted about showcasing the foiling catamarans used in the 35th America’s Cup, which the island successfully hosted last year. In an article published by Sail World, Tom Ehman, a former America’s Cup sailor and Oracle Team USA head of external affairs, suggests that Bermuda will host an event on the proposed AC50 World Series circuit next year. He also named six teams said to be interested in competing on the tour, among them four of those involved in Bermuda last summer. Ehman, who said his information came from “highly reliable” sources, also suggested that the first regatta of the AC50 World Series circuit will take place from October 28 to November 1 this year in San Francisco, the headquarters of Oracle Team USA. Local authorities have yet to comment on the proposed AC50 tour. However, Pat Phillip-Fairn, the Bermuda Tourism Authority chief product and experiences development officer, stated in a press release announcing this year’s BTA Bermuda sailing calendar that “ongoing talks continue, potentially adding more events for 2018 and 2019”. The Royal Gazette revealed last October that plans were in the works for the launch of a world series circuit involving the wing-sailed AC50 multihull racing yachts, with the island among the potential host venues. Speculation over the proposal heightened after various reports suggested that Larry Ellison, the Oracle owner, “is believed to be close to announcing the series” to be contested at a number of venues around the world. The tour will be based on the same concept that software billionaire Ellison used to change the face of America’s Cup racing, with the introduction of the high-speed hydrofoiling catamarans and spectator-friendly courses for the 34th and 35th editions of the America’s Cup, held in San Francisco and Bermuda. The 34th America’s Cup featured 72-foot foiling catamarans, which were replaced by the AC50 in Bermuda four years later. Emirates Team New Zealand beat Oracle 7-1 in the final to exact revenge on the defender, who overcame an 8-1 deficit to claim the title in San Francisco in 2013. The AC50 is the smallest class raced in the America’s Cup and capable of speeds approaching 60mph.
January 6. The People’s Campaign has returned to the public eye with a string of policy proposals and a renewed pledge to hold the Government to account. Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union and one of three leaders of the campaign, said the Progressive Labour Party was given “a clear mandate on July 18 to use and not abuse”. He added: “All we are asking the Government to do is make sure they are listening to the people.” The group was instrumental in the organisation of high-profile protests against the former One Bermuda Alliance government. Fellow campaign leader, the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, said its role remained the same after the change in government. Mr Tweed said: “We were not tough on the OBA. We were tough on policy and tough for the people we represent. That will not change.” Mr Furbert added: “Back then, we sat down with Michael Dunkley, the premier of the day, to have a dialogue, collaboration and a conversation about comprehensive immigration reform. Then it was like they’re spinning our wheels, saying we’re listening to you, talking to you, but we’re not really hearing. Naturally enough, the relationship changed from one thing to something else.” Mr Furbert said the Government did not need to be “dictatorial”. He added: “As long as they use their mandate in accordance with what the people have given, they will be fine.” Mr Tweed said democracy was a partnership and social contract that needed to be “honoured and not violated”. He added: “The previous administration ran into problems because the majority of people began to believe that contract had been violated. That produced a historic PLP landslide. The current government is fully aware of the support and the trust placed in them and also the expectation that the social contract will be honored in order to move the island forward.” Mr Tweed said the group’s policies of jobs, justice and greater equality “builds on initiatives we had been developing in previous years”. He added: “When we formed, we had a vision of being more of a collaborative, policy-orientated entity, and reserved the advocacy role. Having exhausted those avenues, we were forced to resort to more advocacy. This document is more a policy document than a manifesto.” The 12-page document listed a new Workforce Equity Bill, price controls and standardized healthcare costs among its priorities. The People’s Campaign wish list also called for tougher immigration policies and better training for Bermudians, as well as the creation of a culture of entrepreneurship. Mr Tweed warned that calls for a living wage should not be confused with “a glorified minimum wage”. He said that “we tend to function as if financial and corporate rules and the distribution of wealth are somehow natural laws, as opposed to policy choices. We tend to agree with the argument that there has to be moral courage and a will to make the commitment to structural adjustments, of which wage is one component.” The two said any discussion about a comeback for term limits would have to be left to Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, after a review of the findings of the immigration working group. Other sections in the document called for strengthened complaints boards for the police and prison service, which Mr Tweed said was influenced by the clash between protesters and police outside Parliament in December 2016. Mr Furbert said that the People’s Campaign had highlighted a need for comprehensive immigration reform before a standoff over the proposed Pathways to Status legislation. He said: “If we’d had that comprehensive immigration reform, then some of the issues we are facing now, I’m not saying they would all be eliminated, but most of them would have been.” Other proposals included:
January 6. Bermudian actor Nick Christopher has landed a top role in a production of the award-winning musical Hamilton. Mr Christopher will take on the role of Aaron Burr when the first national tour of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical begins in San Diego this month. The 27-year-old, who is starring in the musical Miss Saigon, said his new role was a “dream come true”. He added: “I’ll be closing Miss Saigon on January 14 and joining up with the Hamilton crew in San Diego the next day. There are a lot of exciting things about this tour that runs all the way through to November. We’re doing seven cities and sitting down in each from between three and 14 weeks, so there’s no one-nighters or one-weekers which means you really get to know these places.” He added: “One of the real reasons I’m excited, too, is that we finish in Boston, so I’ll be able to perform in my home city professionally for the first time. There’s a lot to look forward to and it’s always an honour to represent Bermuda when I’m on stage.” Hamilton tells the story of US statesman and America’s founding father Alexander Hamilton, who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War. He was killed in an 1804 duel with vice-president Aaron Burr. The show has won numerous Tony Awards, a Grammy Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Mr Christopher previously appeared in Hamilton in 2017, when he stepped in to replace Tony nominee Christopher Jackson as George Washington. The actor, the son of Hamilton town crier Ed Christopher, has been starring as John in a revival of Miss Saigon at the Broadway Theatre In New York that began in 2016. Mr Christopher was also in the limelight in 2015 in Lazarus, a musical featuring the music of iconic rock star David Bowie, written by Tony Award-winner Enda Walsh.
January 6. Jason Wade has replaced Leonard Santucci as chairman of the CedarBridge Academy board of governors. Dr Santucci confirmed he resigned from the board on Tuesday, despite an invitation to remain from education minister Diallo Rabain. Mr Wade, a former Whitney Institute teacher, will be backed up by new deputy chairman, the Reverend Emilygail Dill. Dr Santucci told The Royal Gazette: “I have respectfully resigned so as to ensure that the new chairman is not impeded in any way in his leadership. I have every confidence in his ability. I am grateful to the previous government and the current government for the opportunity to serve the CedarBridge family and community. I was prepared after the General Election to do a handover. The minister was gracious and permitted me to continue to serve, and I am grateful for that privilege. I am also thankful for his benevolent gesture to invite me to remain on the board, but I believe that an incoming chairman should have both the freedom and flexibility to operate as he sees fit.” Dr Santucci added: “I salute all of the members of the board for their sacrifice and the leadership of Kalmar Richards as principal, now acting commissioner of education, and Stuart Crockwell as the chief operations officer. I take my hat off to all the faculty and staff of CedarBridge because I have witnessed how they have gone above and beyond the call of duty.” Dr Santucci pledged his support to Mr Wade and said he had told the new chairman he was willing to provide any assistance he could. Dr Santucci, a former Bermuda College professor and United Bermuda Party senator, was appointed chairman at CedarBridge in 2015. He joined the school board the year before under Nalton Brangman, Minister for Education in the former One Bermuda Alliance government. Dr Santucci also held positions as a career guidance counselor, admissions director and associate registrar at Bermuda College. He will continue as a pastor at Vernon Temple AME Church and said he was looking forward to “embracing new opportunities to serve”.
January 6. Electric-powered cars are all the rage in Bermuda — but the first vehicle of the type was introduced to the island more than 20 years ago. Lawyer Jeffrey Elkinson bought a test vehicle in 1995 and six years later businessman Tom McFarlane set up the island’s first electric car dealership. Mr McFarlane, now based in Canada, said: “Jeffrey Elkinson had one that Bermuda Motors brought in 1995 as a test vehicle and he had an interest when I started importing electric cars and bought one from me. I was the first with an electric car registered dealership. I liked the novelty of electric vehicles. I was away at a trade show in Las Vegas and saw there was potential for them — Bermuda was the perfect spot for it. There’s the environmental benefits number one — zero emissions — and then high cost of fuel in Bermuda. You can get a full tank in an electric vehicle for $1.70 or $1.80. Emissions were a big thing back then and TCD was going through a transformation at the time, testing emissions and forming new regulations on vehicles, the timing almost couldn’t have been any better. Unfortunately, the models were discontinued and no longer available. I looked at other avenues but I was in the process of leaving the island and bringing my sons back to Canada at that time so I didn’t push too hard with it.” Mr McFarlane said: “Bermuda is the perfect spot for a testing ground because of the small size of the island. It was on the cutting edge back then. They were putting them out in the market at about the time I was getting hold of them — it’s all about the timing.” Interest in low-pollution vehicles has rocketed in recent times and several electric models were showcased at the Bermuda Energy Summit in November. The electric vehicle showcase was run by the Department of Energy in collaboration with vehicle dealers.
January 6. Two injured seamen were this afternoon transferred from their ship to Bermuda for hospital treatment after their cargo vessel was hit by a rogue wave. The two men — crew on the car carrier Pegasus Highway — were rushed to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital after they made landfall at Ordnance Island in St George’s around 4.30pm. One of the sailors suffered cuts to his face and the other sustained head, hand and leg injuries late on Thursday night. The men, both Filipinos, were carrying out a cargo inspection on the car carrier when a wave hit the ship around 300 miles northeast of Bermuda. The ship docked at the pilot station in St George’s and the two men were transferred to a pilot boat then taken to Ordnance Island and waiting emergency services. A spokesman for the Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre said: “There were no delays or any incidents. It was straightforward and the vessel has now resumed its passage.”
January 6. Police tonight traced the driver of a car found submerged in the sea off Warwick. No one was inside the turquoise/grey Chevrolet Aveo when it was pulled from the water at Astwood Cove. But a police bid to track down the car’s driver, believed to be Frederika Russell, 36, was launched and a spokesman confirmed just after 9pm that Ms Russell had been found unharmed . A police spokesman tonight declined to confirm the identity of the driver of the car. But police earlier issued a missing person’s alert for Ms Russell. Ms Russell was last seen around 5am on Saturday morning. The car was lifted out of the water by crane just after 5pm, loaded on a transporter and taken away for further examination by police. Officers were alerted to the car - spotted upside down, partially submerged and washed by heavy waves - around 10.20am this morning. A police cordon was thrown around the Astwood Park area while the find was probed. Rough seas and a high tide foiled earlier attempts by police divers to check the car. The cove is surrounded by high cliffs at the edge of the park.
January 5. Accounting and legal services are set to be taxed in next month’s Budget, according to a report by independent advisers of the Bermuda Government. The Fiscal Responsibility Panel’s annual assessment, published last month, also estimates that Government is provisionally planning for a deficit of around $65 million in the next fiscal year — around $39 million higher than had been projected in last February’s Budget. The previous One Bermuda Alliance government had planned to introduce a general services tax this year, expected to bring in around $50 million. But the FRP says the new Progressive Labour Party administration has put the GST on the back-burner, while it can be considered by the Tax Reform Commission. “The GST will not be implemented in 2018 as proposed by the previous government, but we understand that, possibly as an interim measure, a professional-services tax is to be implemented in 2018-19, limited initially to services provided in the legal and accounting professions,” the report states. Asked for comment, a Ministry of Finance spokesman said more on the upcoming Budget would be revealed in the coming days. “The Ministry of Finance will next week be issuing a Pre-Budget Report that will advise on the proposals under consideration by the Government for the coming fiscal year. Final positions by the Government with regard to fiscal matters are usually revealed on Budget Day, which is normally during a Parliamentary sitting on the third or fourth Friday in February.” In its third yearly report, the FRP, comprising David Peretz, Peter Heller and Jonathan Portes, offers clues on the projected Budget deficit for 2018-19. David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, is due to deliver his first Budget next month. “Looking forward, our understanding is that the new government’s current intention is to target a deficit in 2018-19 that is no greater than the Sinking Fund contribution, ensuring that net debt falls over the course of the year,” the report states. “This implies a deficit, on the government’s preferred definition (that is, after Sinking Fund payments) of about $65 million, more than double the $26 million target set out in the 2017 Budget, with expenditure roughly flat in cash terms (instead of falling by about $18 million) and revenues also falling short. While this would still represent a significant reduction in the deficit from the current year, this further slippage, coming on top of that seen under the previous government’s budget, is unwelcome.” The deficit for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which runs through March 31, was projected to be about $135 million. The panel argues that the island’s tax regime is inadequate to face the looming challenges posed by an ageing population, the need for debt reduction and the need for infrastructure and human capital investment. Bermuda should, the FRP said, aim over time to bring its revenue take to about 22 to 23 per cent of gross domestic product — four to five percentage points above where it is now — in line with some other island economies. It noted that the current tax structure was “excessively weighted towards the taxation of labor and goods” and added that dividend income from partnerships, “much of which is effectively labor income”, went untaxed, a privilege that should end in the interests of a fairer tax system. “It also has the perverse effect of taxing companies that bring employment to the island, through the payroll tax, while leaving those that do not bring employment largely tax free,” the report states. This week, a Bloomberg report showed how Alphabet, parent company of internet giant Google, has slashed its tax bill by funneling about $19 billion to a Bermuda subsidiary which employs no one. Such examples have provoked anger overseas and harmed the island’s reputation without bringing meaningful financial benefit. The FRP had a suggestion to address this issue: “A very significant increase in registration fees charged to companies that do not have a genuine economic presence on the island, perhaps graduated according to their turnover. This would both raise revenue, and represent a clear ‘down payment’ on the Government’s commitment to address this issue in the context of the EU Code of Conduct Initiative.” The FRP also urges an increase in the staffing of the Office of the Tax Commissioner to address the large amount of uncollected tax. And it argues that a GST is needed “on equity, efficiency and revenue mobilization grounds”. Other ideas included moving away from fixed-rate social insurance contributions to a percentage of income, and taxing capital income of residents, such as dividends, interest and capital gains, with an exemption for an initial tranche of such income. “It is worth noting that other similar jurisdictions, such as Jersey and Guernsey, tax income from capital in the context of normal income tax regimes,” the FRP said. In his Reply to the Budget speech in March last year, Mr Burt hinted at targeting capital income. “There are vast swaths of domestic wealth and income that have never been subjected to tax, which by its very construct fosters continued economic inequality,” Mr Burt said in the House of Assembly. “This is why our taxation system promotes and fuels economic inequality. Tax reform and broadening the tax base cannot be effective if they are unwilling to look at taxing the passive income of the privileged persons in society.” During last year’s successful General Election campaign, the PLP stressed it did not plan to tax rental income.
January 5. Royal Gazette Editorial. "As far as own goals go, the one that took place at the Fairmont Southampton on New Year’s Eve was as deflating as they come. What better way to trash the reputation of Bermuda than to make a train wreck of our most famous hotel and give the impression to any of the holidaymakers in the vicinity that we can be as boorish, uncouth and ill-intentioned as the worst that can be found in the “developed” world. The dirty linen has been well and truly aired, with the hotel largely viewed as the fall guy — other than the young man who had to be admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital. When the armchair critics finish rounding on hotel management for any number of policy missteps that allowed scores of teenagers to run rampant on the property, what is undeniable is that the country continues to have a serious problem with unruly youth. Indeed there must be some form of accountability sought at the hotel because there is no way that such reported disturbances should go unchecked without security or the police being alerted to force the would-be troublemakers to make an early night of it, nipping in the bud hours more of misadventure. But that did not happen until it was too late, leaving the hotel in an invidious position with regard to policy going forward and starting the year with a bang of the unwanted variety. The other innocent victims are the many young people of this island who get tarred by the same brush as the bad seeds while trying on a daily basis to do positive things, making their parents and communities proud, and filling the rest of us with confidence that the country may just be in good hands once left to the next generation. However, it would take some doing if any of our future leaders are to come from those who were hell-bent on a night of carnage on Sunday, heading into Monday morning. It is to be hoped that they will not, unless an intervention can bring about a significant attitude adjustment. The apologists for children behaving badly will have had the most sheepish looks on their faces on Monday morning as the news spread of the disturbance. The questions for the parents are obvious, but if parental guidance is to score low marks on any day of the year, December 31 on an island that doesn’t need an excuse for a party would rank very high. That is not meant to be viewed as an excuse, for the bad and absentee parenting took place long before New Year’s Eve; the results to be found in the damage at the hotel, the concussive injuries to the youngster who was left unconscious and three men facing robbery charges. Not to mention the dreadful experience of fellow guests. One took to our comments thread a day or so after the night of shame: “I am not the police, but can indeed verify that most were in the age range of 14-18,” she said of the perpetrators. “I was present at the hotel along with my family [small children] and am beyond horrified and disgusted at the events that transpired. We were located [on] the fourth floor, right by where [the] individual [was] found unconscious, and it was apparent by 10pm that there was cause for concern. “The hallways were flooded with youth, moving from room to room, and the smell of marijuana was rampant. From [approximately 2am to 4am], it was complete havoc. Fights, screaming, cursing, banging on room doors, disgusting language, bottles smashing, people running up and down the halls. It got pretty scary and one couldn’t help thinking that the worst might happen. At 4.30am the police knocked on our door to see if we had witnessed anything. When I opened our door there was blood on the carpet outside. The hotel was booked heavily with overseas guests spending a lot of money to enjoy what they would expect for the price, as a high-end holiday. The four couples I spoke with were mortified by the events and were refunded for [their] stays. I can’t imagine what this would have cost the hotel. Downright disgusting.” Before the conservatives can retort “you see what decriminalization gets you?”, it needs adding that there was no shortage of alcohol made available for a host of prepubescents — giving lead to a dangerous cocktail for underdeveloped minds borne of the already socially maladjusted. The one positive is that no one died. To pluck that as a salient fact from a night of mayhem shows how desperate we are for any small wins in a time of social degradation when we cannot be trusted to celebrate a joyous occasion without dancing cheek to cheek with disaster."
January 5. A winter storm that has buried the East Coast of the United States in snow is to blame for gales and rain on the island, the Bermuda Weather Service said yesterday. Storm Grayson has brought blizzards across the eastern seaboard. James Dodgson, director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said: “These winter-type low pressure systems can be very large, more than 1,000km in diameter and this is the reason we are being impacted by the same system as the US. The weather impacts are different, though. The US is not only dealing with strong winds, but also snow, ice, sub-zero temperatures and isolated blizzard conditions. Because of Bermuda’s subtropical latitude and ocean location, we are not subject to sub-zero temperatures and winter-type precipitation. We have been subject to persistent rain and showers, isolated thunderstorms and strong to gale force winds, with some isolated gusts to storm force.” He said rain and showers had largely cleared away by yesterday morning, but the weather is expected to be windy for a few more days. The island recorded around 1.84in of rain in the first three days of the year. Temperatures dropped to a low of 56F or 13C on Tuesday. Winds peaked early yesterday morning, with gusts reaching 45 knots or 52mph. Conditions were much worse on the East Coast of America with thousands of flights grounded, including five flights to and from Bermuda. Areas of New England recorded more than 16 inches of snow. The low pressure brought tides in Boston Harbour to near-record levels. Thousands of people in the US lost power yesterday and hundreds of schools remained closed.
January 5. Three men pleaded not guilty yesterday to a New Year’s Day robbery in the car park of the Fairmont Southampton hotel. Kyari Flood, 18, from Devonshire, Zachary Fox, 19, and Jason Symonds, 18, both from Pembroke, denied the theft of a portable speaker worth $70, an iPhone worth $600 and an $800 watch in the early hours of Monday. Magistrates’ Court heard the three men were arrested a few hours later. They were released on $10,000 bail each and ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim. The defendants were also ordered to report to Hamilton police station three times per week. The men are due to return to court on January 18.
January 5. A kind-hearted bus driver who helped to reunite lost nine-year-old twins with their parents yesterday said he was just doing his job. Reid Simmons stepped in after Amaya and Quinton Husband got on the wrong bus and ended up at the bus terminal in St George’s, which was miles away from their intended destination of their mother’s office in Hamilton. While panicked mom Laura Husband called the children’s school, its after-school programme and the transport authorities in a desperate attempt to track the children down, Mr Simmons stayed with them in St George’s. He let them use his mobile phone to call her husband, Damiso, to tell him they were safe and to pick them up. Mr Simmons, a father of two, said the reunion was “very heart-wrenching”. He added: “As soon as they saw their father, they ran to him. He thanked me from the bottom of his heart.” Mr Simmons said he told Mr Husband the decision to look after the children was an easy one. He added: “I told him I would do this for anybody.” A colleague in St George’s supplied the children with sodas while they waited for their father. Mr Simmons said he and his fellow transportation workers were more than just bus drivers. He explained: “I believe that we’re ambassadors also. People might think that it’s just a job and you drive up and down and drop people off, but if you love what you do, which I do, then this is part of the job.” The drama began on Wednesday afternoon when the children, normally picked up by Mr Husband, set out to travel to Hamilton by bus. Ms Husband said: “On occasion, we allow them to catch the bus, and they get very excited to do it.” She added the children normally arrived to meet her at work just before 4pm. Ms Husband said she became nervous when they were late and contacted her husband to confirm that the children had taken the bus. She added: “We started to get a little panicked.” But Ms Husband said her husband got a call from the children just before 5pm to say they had ended up in St George’s. Ms Husband said: “They were nervous. They weren’t sure if they should get off the bus and cross the street and wait for another bus, so they just decided to stay on the bus and see where they ended up.” She said the pair “bravely” decided to approach the bus driver to ask to borrow his phone to call their father. Ms Husband added: “I was very happy that they actually went to him and said something.” After the youngsters explained the situation to their father, he spoke to Mr Simmons. Mr Husband said: “He was very nice and he seemed very concerned for the children. He told me he was going to wait until I got there, which I really appreciated. It put me at ease.” Mr Husband said he arrived in the East End to find his children safe and sound with Mr Simmons. He added: “I just shook his hand and told him that he was a godsend. It’s good to know that there are good people out there that can look out for your children.” Ms Husband said the incident had sparked a decision to consider a couple of new purchases. She added: “We’ll be looking into cell phones.”
January 4. The Financial Policy Council has advised the Bermuda Government to take a proactive approach in dealing with risks to the island’s economy emanating from the “Paradise Papers”. Bermuda Monetary Authority, the financial regulator, hosted the sixth meeting of the FPC at its offices in November and some details of what was discussed were released today. The “Paradise Papers” refers to a slew of international media reports last year based on millions of documents stolen from law firm Appleby. “FPC noted that Bermuda enjoys a longstanding history as a trusted jurisdiction, with the highest regulatory standards,” a government statement said. “Council members urged the Government and BMA to continue to pursue proactive international engagement efforts with governmental and financial authorities aimed at promptly addressing risks emerging from the event.” The main purpose of the FPC, which was established in 2015, is to assess possible threats to Bermuda’s financial stability, and to identify policies and actions to address them. Members of the FPC include chairman David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, deputy chairman Sir Andrew Large, BMA chief executive officer Jeremy Cox, Sir Courtney Blackman, Michael Butt, Dame Amelia Fawcett and Gil Tucker. The FPC also reviewed work under way by the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee towards strengthening Bermuda’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing framework in advance of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force mutual evaluation of the island’s regime. Council members stressed the critical importance of a sound anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing framework to Bermuda’s economic viability and welcomed the formation of a Cabinet committee tasked, among other things, with monitoring progress in this area. Finally, members urged all relevant authorities to continue to attach priority and to assign adequate resources to ensuring its timely implementation so as to lead to a favorable assessment. Council members also discussed the European Union’s initiative to develop a common system for listing of non-co-operative jurisdictions or “blacklist” and stressed the importance of staying off it. The EU published its blacklist in December, after the FPC meeting, and Bermuda was not on it. The statement added: “Bermuda recognizes the importance attached by the EU to clamping down on tax evasion and avoidance, and promoting fairer taxation. “Bermuda believes that its regulatory and tax environment meets most of the expectations sought by the EU. Moreover, Bermuda has been an active participant in the OECD’s Tax Information Exchange Agreement and will continue to actively engage with the EU in order to reach mutual understanding on EU demands and on the most appropriate way of addressing these.” The FPC reviewed the impact on the Bermuda reinsurance industry of the recent active catastrophe season. Overall, while the unique frequency and severity of events was likely to affect the reinsurance sector’s profitability for 2017, it did not raise any concerns regarding the sector’s solvency. Other topics discussed included Government’s plans to improve its fiscal situation and recent developments in shadow banking, especially the work under way at the Financial Stability Board. The meeting was the last one to be attended by Sir Courtney Blackman, whose term has ended. The Premier thanked Sir Courtney for his contribution to the work in FPC during its important start-up phase. The FPC’s next meeting is scheduled for early this year.
January 4. Public consultation on the implementation of a proposed sugar tax has begun, the Ministry of Health announced this morning. The initiative was announced in the Throne Speech last September. According to the Ministry, a survey found that 75 per cent of adult residents are overweight, and more than one-third of adults are obese. A spokesperson said: “The prevalence of obesity and diabetes is one of the highest among the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development countries. The Government began the consultative process by setting out specific objectives and identifying options. The current stage is determining the best option and developing a framework for implementation including detailed policy design. The proposals look at a list of items for “added levies at the point of their importation into Bermuda”. Included are sugar, soda products, candy and other beverages containing added sugar. The purpose of the consultation is to “seek views on the detailed policy design rather than to seek views on alternative proposals”. Reacting in a statement, Michelle Jackson, executive vice-president of group insurance at The Argus Group, said: “We welcome the government’s public consultation on the proposed sugar tax and actively support the Ministry of Health’s efforts to promote healthy lifestyles.” The eight-week consultation period will last until March 1. The implementation of the tax is expected at a later date in 2018. Responses made during the consultation period will be made public. Documentation from other jurisdictions has been reviewed by the Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the Customs Department. “In studying their methods of implementation, the Government is being guided by the World Health Organisation, the Pan American Health Organisation and other international bodies with respect to benefits derived from a sugar tax.” Those interested in having their say can respond online at https://goo.gl/forms/86QbP1rWx91Y3hO32. Alternatively, responses to the summary of the questions in Section 7 can be e-mailed by March 1 to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to David Kendell, Director of Health, Continental Building, 25 Church Street, Hamilton, HM 12. Responses must include a name and state whether you are an individual, business, or represent an organisation. Responses from an organisation should indicate the number of people being represented. Responses should not be sent the health minister. “All views and responses must be considered in the public consultation process and will be made available to the public. There will be no private consultations.” Anonymous submissions will not be accepted. Hard copies of the consultation document can be obtained free of charge from the above address. The document and the online feedback form can also be accessed from the government’s website at www.gov.bm/health-public-consultations. All responses will be acknowledged, but it will not be possible to reply to individual representations. Information provided in response to this consultation, including personal information, may be published or disclosed in accordance with the Public Access to Information Act (Pati).” A free public presentation on obesity and diabetes will be held at the Hamilton Princess on Tuesday, January 16. Commit to Change: Halting the Rise of Obesity and Diabetes will include guest speaker Jane De Ville-Almond. The event runs from 6.30pm to 8pm. For more information call 278-4900 or email email@example.com.
January 4. Working with on-island companies and organisations, America’s Cup team Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing made a positive impact on the island, according to a new 46-page report. In order to offset its carbon footprint during the seven months the team was based in Bermuda for last year’s sailing event, which was held in May and June, the team installed 194 solar panels at National Museum. The panels can generate more than 93,600 kilowatt hours of energy every year. Within a little over two years of use the panels will compensate for the estimated 246,000 kWh of energy consumed by the team’s operations in Bermuda during its stay from January to July 2017. The solar panels were installed by Pembroke-based BE Solar, creating the largest ground-mounted solar installation on the island. The panels will reduce the museum’s annual electricity bills by 20 per cent. Other sustainability efforts undertaken by the team included sourcing as much food as possible from Bermudian farmers and producers. “Our aim was to contribute to local communities by trading with Bermudian businesses, ensuring that we were able to give something back to the economy,” the report said. The team cut down on food waste by redistributing surplus food to organisations such as Eliza DoLittle Society to provide support for the less well-off. And the team base banned single-use plastics, such as plastic tableware, stirrers, coffee and water cups. It was compulsory for the team and visitors to use reusable water bottles. An estimated 5.4 tonnes of tin, aluminum and glass waste generated at the base was diverted for recycling during the team’s 36 weeks on the island. When the Land Rover BAR team base at Dockyard was dismantled in July, a number of solar panels were donated to the GreenRock organisation for its Ecoschool youth education programme and to Keep Bermuda Beautiful, while plywood sheets, plants, earth, and more than 200 square metres of ocean plastics carpet tiles were given to a number of groups, including KBB, Bermuda Diabetes Association and Somersfield Academy. During its stay in Bermuda, the team welcomed 9,000 visitors into its 11th Hour Racing Exploration Zone, providing education and information about the ocean and the importance of environmental sustainability. The zone included an interactive classroom space that was used by local students. Sir Ben Ainslie, team skipper, said the 11th Hour Racing Exploration Zone had “captured people’s imagination and sparked creativity and interest in our oceans — a true lasting legacy”. Anne Hyde, executive director of Keep Bermuda Beautiful, said: “Land Rover BAR and 11th Hour Racing set a great example of sustainability excellence while in Bermuda — a new benchmark for our island.”
January 4. Two men were charged with possession of $67,000 worth of heroin yesterday. Paul Smith Jr, 20, of Pembroke, and Judah Roberts, 22, of Smiths, pleaded not guilty to possessing 25.6g of the drug. They also pleaded not guilty to possession of marijuana. The two chose to have the case tried in Magistrates’ Court. A third man charged in connection with the case, 22-year-old Kyle Smith, of Pembroke, did not appear in court. Both men were released on $20,000 bail with the condition they report to police three times a week before next appearing in court on January 17.
January 4. A farm that raised a stink among its neighbors has started to clean up its act. However, some residents living near Green Land Dairy Farm in Smith’s insisted that the work was too little, too late. One, from Store Hill, said that most neighbors believed the problem remained unresolved. He said: “Residents are still complaining that the smell created by the manure pit, and the spreading of the manure, persists. There are also related problems, not least the pigeons, which are attracted by the feed in the open barn, and flock in large numbers to roost on neighboring rooftops, potentially contaminating drinking water and making a mess in one neighbor's swimming pool.” The neighbour said it had been “difficult to engage in a meaningful dialogue” with the farm’s owners, Valter and Lidia Medeiros. He added that nearby residents also wanted confirmation that planning conditions and health regulations attached to the development had met compliance. The 13-acre farm came under attack at a public meeting organized by the Department of Environmental Health last month, when angry local residents threatened the farm’s owners with legal action. Mr and Ms Medeiros said they were shocked at the level of complaints and promised action, while an environmental health spokeswoman said its team “remains in frequent contact with the farm’s operators and is monitoring progress”. She added: “Remedial actions have been taken with improvement noted. Stakeholders, including neighbors, will receive an update on progress from environmental health in the new year.” Shaun Don, a 33-year resident of the area, said: “Nothing has changed and that’s the most irritating thing. I’ve lived here all my life, and this has been happening the last 16 months. It’s unbearable, you can’t go outside when it’s damp.” In addition to the foul smell, neighbors complained of flies, pigeons and rats. A Facebook site set up for the area includes posts of sick and dying birds after poison control efforts. The farm’s operators declined to comment yesterday. Smith’s MP Michael Dunkley, of the One Bermuda Alliance said he had checked the farm at least every two days. Mr Dunkley said: “I’ve seen some improvement. They have emptied the manure pit to a very low level. They have put enzymes in the pit and are working with environmental health to cover the pit and vent it. There has been slow progress but obviously some neighbors will still smell something.” Concerned residents hired Bermuda Environmental Consulting to suggest remedial measures at the farm, which could include the installation of a bio digester treatment plant. It is understood that another town hall meeting for local residents will be held this month. Mr and Ms Medeiros bought Green Land from the Bermuda Government on a 25-year lease in 2014 and told residents in November that they had brought the farm back from the brink. Ms Medeiros told the November meeting that the farm had been “totally dilapidated”. She added: “The cows lived in mud, the runoff went down on to the trails. We stopped that.” One neighbour said she sympathized with the couple “in the sense that they do believe that they are doing the right thing for the cows". She added: “They also were granted planning permission, although that never should have happened, and so invested a great deal into their business. That said, they are showing no regard for the people that live in the near proximity and are only doing so now that it is being forced on them.” Mr Dunkley said the farm owners needed to continue to work “to make sure the improvements are long-lasting and acceptable”. He said: “I sympathize. I want it sustainable. For those people who are still concerned, I would like to hear from them. I’m not going to let this one slip by.”
January 4. Local travelers are set to feel the effect of severe winter weather in the United States up until the weekend as blizzards batter the east coast of the country. As winter storm Grayson headed north last night, major airlines waived charges for customers changing their travel plans over today and tomorrow to cities in the Northeast. The offshore storm was expected to dump more than a foot of snow around Boston today, and six inches across the New York region. Grayson also brought hurricane-force gusts of wind and high seas. Gale force winds were expected to hit Bermuda last night. The Bermuda Weather Service predicted poor weather conditions on the island to ease later today as the severe weather heads north.
January 4. Seven illegal dogs have been flown to the United States in an attempt to find them new homes. The move is a last-ditch attempt to find an alternative to the animals, all pit bull-type dogs, being put down and came after Walton Brown, Minister of Home Affairs, contacted an American animal charity. Mr Brown said: “All of these dogs are illegal dogs and have come into our custody over the past few months. They are all pit bull-type dogs and, therefore, a prohibited breed which cannot be re-homed locally. We will assess how this method works and go from there, but I think it would be helpful to have this avenue to export animals going forward. It’s been an incredible team effort to save these dogs. The dog wardens have worked tirelessly to care for these dogs since they came into their care. They handled the daily care of the dogs, the vaccinations, secured the transport crates, socialized some of the dogs and prepared the dogs for transportation.” The mercy flight came as a result of a partnership between the Ministry of Home Affairs and Angels Helping Animals, a Massachusetts-based animal rescue organisation. Mr Brown contacted the charity several months ago because of a growing number of prohibited dogs being held by the island’s animal wardens. A spokeswoman for the Ministry said that flying dogs off the island was expensive. She added that Angels Helping Animals had pledged to cover the costs with the help of donations and the work of volunteers in Bermuda and the United States. The dogs left Bermuda for Newark, New Jersey, on a cargo plane on Tuesday night and were handed over to Angels Helping Animals on arrival. Ashley Medeiros, an adoption counselor with the group, told The Martha’s Vineyard Times that two of the dogs would be going to relatives of their Bermudian owners. “They’re trying to get visas to move to the US so they can get their dogs back,” Ms Medeiros said. Some of the puppies may become available for adoption in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Ms Medeiros said Bermuda had a “barbaric way of thinking about dog breeds Simply because of how they look, they are an illegal breed in Bermuda.” Breeding pit bulls has been illegal in Bermuda since 2003. Mr Brown has signaled that Government is examining the island’s dog legislation and two public meetings on the subject were held last October. However, the spokeswoman said no updates were available on that work.
January 4. Jeff Baron’s decision to do something spontaneous with frequent flyer miles has notched up more than $6,000 for a children’s charity. Mr Baron rented a high-powered Harley Davidson motorbike and set off on a marathon 1,350 mile three-day road trip from Dallas, Texas, to the California coastal city of San Diego. He said: “I’m not a biker but I just wanted to have a fun few days on my own. I booked the entire trip a few days before I left.” Mr Baron said he was unfamiliar with the open spaces of the United States when he set out on December 28. He rode up to 11 hours a day on his rented 1750cc Street Glide to raise funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters Bermuda. Mr Baron admitted he took unexpected detours after missing turns along his planned route. The One Bermuda Alliance Warwick North East MP said: “What made it cool was knowing each mile that I was raising money.” He added he took a bit of Bermuda along for the ride. Mr Baron said: “I was going 85mph in the middle of nowhere out in the desert, just as the sun was going down, listening to the Talbot Brothers’ Bermuda Buggy Ride,” he recalled. “That was one of my favorites.” He added highlights of the trip included crossing the Rio Grande, eating cherry pie next to the world’s largest model chilli pepper, and hanging on tight through the wind-blown final stretch after Yuma, Arizona. Mr Baron reached his destination at 11.30pm on Sunday, returned his bike, and headed home. He said he was keen to do the trip again “but with other people next time”. His goal was to raise $5,000 for BBBS, but his online campaign broke the $6,000 mark. He said: “I can’t wait to finalize their cheque and start their year off with a donation.” The mentoring programme, which offers friendship and role models for young people, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Patrina O’Connor-Paynter, managing director of BBBS, said: “When Jeff called me with this idea, I was like, are you serious? What a great idea. It has all the more meaning because he has been a Big Brother himself.”
January 3. Bloomberg. Google uses two structures, known as a “Double Irish” and a “Dutch Sandwich,” to shield the majority of its international profits from taxation. The set-up involves shifting revenue from one Irish subsidiary to a Dutch company with no employees, and then on to a Bermuda mailbox owned by another Ireland-registered company. The amount of money Google moved through this tax structure in 2016 was 7 per cent higher than the year before, according to company filings with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce dated December 22 and which were made available online yesterday. News of the filings was first reported by the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad. “We pay all of the taxes due and comply with the tax laws in every country we operate in around the world,” a Google spokesman said in a statement. “We remain committed to helping grow the online ecosystem.” Google is under pressure from regulators and authorities around the world for not paying enough tax. Last year, the company escaped a €1.12 billion French tax bill after a court ruled its Irish subsidiary, which collects revenue for ads the company sells in France, had no permanent base in the country. The European Union has been exploring ways to make US technology companies, many of which use similar tax shelters, pay more. The Irish government closed the tax loophole that permitted “Double Irish” tax arrangements in 2015. But companies already using the structure are allowed to continue employing it until the end of 2020. According to US financial filings, Google’s global effective tax rate in 2016 was 19.3 per cent, which it achieved in part by shifting the majority of its international profit to the Bermudian-based entity. The total pool of foreign earnings Google was holding overseas, free from taxation, was $60.7 billion at the end of 2016, the company said in its SEC filings. The US tax law passed last month would give companies such as Google an incentive to repatriate much of that cash by offering them a one-time, 15.5 per cent tax rate. After that, foreign earnings would be taxed at 10.5 per cent, although companies can deduct foreign tax liabilities from this amount. The law will also impose a 13.1 per cent tax on certain international patent royalties that could hit Google’s tax arrangement in which its Bermudian-based subsidiary licenses its intellectual property to its other foreign subsidiaries. Google Ireland Ltd collects most of the company’s international advertising revenue and then passes this money on to Dutch subsidiary Google Netherlands Holdings BV. A Google subsidiary in Singapore that collects most of the company’s revenue in the Asia-Pacific region does the same. The Dutch company then transfers this money on to Google Ireland Holdings Unlimited, which has the right to license the search giant’s intellectual property outside the US. That company is based in Bermuda, which has no corporate income tax. The use of the two Irish entities is what gives the structure its “Double Irish” moniker and the use of the Netherlands subsidiary as a conduit between the two Irish companies is the “Dutch Sandwich”.
January 3. Bermuda-based run-off specialist Armour is to launch a new reinsurer after raising up to $500 million in equity commitments from an investor group led by New York private-equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners. The new reinsurance company Armour Group Ltd, will co-invest in global property and casualty run-off transactions in parallel with the group’s affiliates. As part of the transaction, the former Armour holding company will rename itself Trebuchet Holdings and transfer the Armour brand name to the new group. Trebuchet Holdings will also contribute its existing P&C run-off platform to the newly established holding company, including the firm’s claims-management operation Armour Risk and, subject to certain approvals, the group’s affiliate ILS Investment Management, which will continue its existing business. “Aquiline’s investment in Armour reflects the growing demand for run-off as an option for insurance companies that are looking to solve deteriorating reserve positions and optimize their capital,” said Jeff Greenberg, chairman and chief executive officer of Aquiline. “We are excited to partner with the highly experienced team at Armour and believe that their ILS management capabilities provide a strong competitive differentiator. The formation of our permanent capital vehicle provides the team with the full toolkit to capitalize on the market opportunity.” Armour founder and CEO Brad Huntington said: “Given Aquiline’s deep insurance industry experience, we believe they are an ideal partner to help us grow the team and scale our operation.” Jefferies served as financial adviser to Armour on the transaction. Trebuchet was advised by Clifford Chance LLP. Aquiline was advised by Sidley Austin LLP.
January 3. The University of Vermont Health Network is to move its captive insurance company from Bermuda to Vermont. The cost of the move is expected to be between $35,000 and $50,000, and the state of Vermont will collect about $50,000 annually in premium taxes. John Brumsted, chief executive officer of UVM Health Network, said part of the reason for the change was to do business locally where possible, adding: “So we’re happy that being in Vermont is the best business decision in this case.” The decision was taken by the directors of the VMC Indemnity Company, the health network subsidiary that provides medical malpractice insurance coverage for its medical providers. In a statement, the UVM Health Network said the change in location will have no impact on the providers insured by the plan, or on the cost of healthcare in Vermont.
January 3. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has teamed up with Connect WorldWide Canada to promote the island. Now CWW Canada will serve as the BTA’s new public relations, marketing and business groups representation agency in Canada. A BTA spokesman said CWW Canada will launch an integrated marketing campaign called #OutHere365 to highlight Bermuda as a year-round destination. Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer for the BTA, said: “We are excited for the opportunity to work with CWW Canada, a well-respected and innovative leader in the industry in Bermuda’s second largest international market. “Following on an increase in Canadian visitation to Bermuda in 2017, we are excited to launch this new partnership and are confident that CWW’s creativity will excite more and more Canadians to visit Bermuda.” Charmaine Singh, CWW Canada president, said the firm was honored to work with the BTA team. She added: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to tell Bermuda’s story and showcase her unparalleled adventure and island life.”
January 3. Dedicated school buses will not be available to pupils over the “near future”, Government announced this evening. A Ministry of Transport spokesman said buses for Berkeley Institute and CedarBridge Academy could not be provided due to a diminished fleet. The news came as public schools prepare to return tomorrow and a temporary arrangement to supplement the bus service with minibuses comes to an end. Pupils were asked instead to use regular scheduled buses. The spokesman said: “Parents and students are encouraged to bookmark the bus scheduling pages on the government portal, or subscribe to receive bus cancellation notifications by e-mail. In the event of cancellations, priority will be given to routes that service primary and middle schoolchildren.” As of today 63 buses of the island’s 105-strong fleet are in service. The spokesman maintained that the bus situation is expected to improve as buses in the fleet are overhauled and new buses arrive, starting with one this month. He added: “An RFP for fleet replacement is drafted and is being reviewed prior to issuance. This is a longer term project that will be undertaken as budget allows.”
January 3. Robert Cartwright is the new president of the Risk and Insurance Management Society, the organisation that hosts the Rims Annual Conference and Exhibition in North America. Mr Cartwright succeeds Nowell Seaman in the top role. He is the division manager of environmental, health, safety and sustainability for Bridgestone retail operations in the northeast region, and has been Rims director for 10 years. “In order to advance the risk management profession we must recognize those who came before us,” said Mr Cartwright. "Risk management has evolved leaps and bounds from just a decade ago and that progress is a direct result of our predecessors’ passion and perseverance. Today, industry professionals have the same opportunity to become trailblazers, increasing organizational awareness of risk management’s diversity and value. As we work to establish our individual legacies, together we will strengthen and solidify the collective legacy of the global risk management community.” Steve Pottle, director of risk management services at York University, is the vice-president of Rims for 2018. Bermuda is a regular participant at the Rims Annual Conference and Exhibition, which around 10,000 delegates, including senior executives and risk management professionals. This year’s multi-day North America conference will be held in San Antonio, Texas, in April.
January 3. One hundred years ago, almost to the day, a sailor was shot dead in an accident on board the US Army Tug Fred E Richards as she was berthed in St George’s Harbour on her way to serve in the First World War. But Thomas Crealy’s sad death on New Year’s Day 1918 was the inspiration for the Guild of Holy Compassion that has tended the graves of merchant seamen who died in Bermuda for the past century. Mr Crealy’s funeral on January 2, 1918, was attended by a 16-year-old boy called Leonard Tucker, whose father, the Reverend Arthur Tucker, conducted the service. As he stood by the grave, one of Mr Crealy’s shipmates asked the teenager to tend his friend’s tombstone. And it was a request that would lead him to found the Guild as well as the Bermuda Sailor’s Home. Mr Tucker died in December 1988 at his Paget home, but his legacy and that of the Guild remains strong today. The Guild is still responsible for the upkeep of about 25 sailors’ graves at St Peter’s Church in St George’s, including Mr Crealy’s. It conducts an annual wreath- laying ceremony to commemorate sailors who have died in Bermuda. The Guild’s chairman, Henry Hayward, told The Royal Gazette: “We’re still around today and doing what Dickie Tucker first set out to achieve 100 years ago. “The annual wreath laying normally takes place in the summer and we normally go out on one of the container ships or a cruise liner and conduct the ceremony off Five Fathom Hole. These days, sailors who die in Bermuda tend to be shipped home, so there are not many new graves to take care of. But we have around 25 graves, including Mr Crealy’s, that we pay a maintenance fee for to keep Mr Tucker’s vision alive.” Mr Crealy’s tombstone at St Peter’s Church reads: “In memory of Thomas A. Crealy, Seaman of USACT Fred E Richards. Died at Bermuda, January 1st, 1918, aged 33. Erected by the Officers and crews of USACT Fred E Richards & Kingfisher.” Historian Dr Edward Harris said Bermuda’s Guild of Holy Compassion could be a one-of-a-kind organisation. He said: “According to local lore, several Russians of Red and White persuasions were on board and it was they who had a fight on board on January 1, 1918, a battle perhaps between King and Commies that they resolved to settle in gunfire. “One hapless seaman stuck his head out of a porthole and received the bullet intended for one side of the Russian roulette and thus met his maker and obtained permanent residency in the heights overlooking Murray’s Anchorage. In the audience at the graveside service on January 2 was 16-year-old Leonard Tucker, later universally known as Dickie. One of the seaman turned to Master Tucker and asked that he care for his departed shipmate’s tomb, to which request Dickie agreed, starting his own-termed Guild of Holy Compassion, apparently found nowhere but Bermuda, to care for the dead at sea who are found in graves in Bermuda.” Dr Harris added: “Other seamen have since died at sea and the Guild of Holy Compassion exists to honour those individuals and care for their graves.”
January 3. Charity Habitat for Humanity Bermuda has celebrated a “record” year for 2017, with a total of 16 homes refurbished for disadvantaged people. One woman whose house was repaired by the charity told The Royal Gazette: “I get emotional talking about it — I really appreciated what they did for me.” The woman, who asked not to be named, said she had lost her mother earlier last year and was made redundant last month. The woman said it had been “one thing after another”. She added: “I just learnt to leave it in the Lord’s hands, but he has blessed me.” The woman said a friend suggested she contact Habitat for Humanity after she struggled with her mother’s funeral expenses and the cost of children in college. She added: “It came out of the blue. They came down here and the work on my roof was done in three days. They painted outside too.” The woman said she had worried that her home was turning into “the eyesore of the neighborhood”. But she added: “Now my house looks really nice. The experience was overwhelming.” Another beneficiary, a senior too infirm to tackle leaks in his roof, said the unexpected help was “like something that came out of the Bible”. The 67-year-old knew Habitat superintendent Hewvonnie Brown from their football days and mentioned the roof damage during a casual chat. The man said: “I didn’t have the money to get it fixed, but a few weeks later, via Habitat, Hewvonnie came to my rescue. I thought, wow, this is awesome. I was staying at another of my family’s houses and he told me, ‘don’t worry about it, by the time you come back to St David’s, the work will be done’. “My roof was white as snow and after three years the leaks were gone. Not only that, Hewvonnie gave my house a new colour. I thought Habitat was only something they had in America. I was just astounded. They are indeed a wonderful service to seniors. Now my house is secure from the winter weather.” Habitat for Humanity runs its own local charity, often working with clients of the Coalition for the Protection of Children. Bermuda’s branch was launched in 2000 by former US president Jimmy Carter, a longstanding backer of the worldwide body. Sheelagh Cooper, chairwoman of the Coalition, thanked the Pembroke Paint Company for their support in 2017. Ms Cooper said the programme usually assisted 12 homeowners a year. She added: “In the past, our projects were geared towards people who owned their homes and couldn’t afford to repair them, and Habitat’s traditional approach would involve repayment for the cost of the work. Increasingly, we’ve found that many people couldn’t afford to pay, and many of the people that needed the most help were living in substandard rental homes with landlords either unable or unwilling to properly maintain their properties.” Ms Cooper said the charity’s top priority jobs involved situations where children’s health was at risk. She explained typical scenarios involved “a mother with two children and lacking support from the father”. Ms Cooper said: “There’s a leaking roof, leaking windows, often a door that’s tied with a rope because it doesn’t lock or fit properly, and a lot of issues around asthma with bad floors or old carpets.” Habitat also deals with referrals from the Coalition, as well as Age Concern and the Salvation Army. Ms Cooper said: “The Salvation Army do a wonderful job, but Bermuda has no place for homeless mothers and children. We have to decide in this country whether it is a right or a privilege to have a roof over your head. I believe that access to safe and adequate housing is a right. Yes, we have parents that don’t always make the best choices, but do we make children pay for that? If that’s the case, we will only see a recurring generational cycle of poverty.” Ms Cooper said repairs to rented homes required a guarantee from the landlord not to raise the rent or move the tenants out. Teams of at-risk individuals, both male and female, carry out the job and learn a trade in the process, under the supervision of Mr Brown. Mr Brown said the crew had been joined by “young people who had been in trouble in school — it was like giving them another chance to build things back up”. He added: “A lot of people aren’t broke when it comes to having the home, but they’re cash broke and can’t afford to fix things. It’s just the way things are right now. People are stretched. We don’t do major construction but when people can’t afford to fix things, they look for our help. It’s sad when someone calls and there are cracks in the roof, major holes, and it’s raining. You know everything’s going to get ruined. It’s not a handout, but we do target some of the places that are in immediate need. It has been a humbling experience for me, to see how many people in Bermuda are in need.”
January 3. Opinion, by Michael M. Fahy, a former Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities, and Junior Minister of Finance under the One Bermuda Alliance government. "As we embrace 2018, many will talk about new year’s resolutions. I have already made mine, so I thought I would write some for the Government to consider that would benefit all Bermudians:
Happy new year, Bermuda."
January 2. The board of telecoms group One Communications Ltd has authorized the repurchase of up to two million of its own shares. The Bermuda Stock Exchange-listed company said the move would continue its current buyback programme until December 31, 2018. The company can start repurchases on the open market from today. Frank Amaral, chief executive officer of One, said: “While we have no current plan or goal as to timing or amount of purchases, we intend to utilize the buyback programme opportunistically, with a view to balancing other potential uses for our capital. “The buyback programme provides us with an additional tool for enhancing shareholder value.” One’s shares closed last Friday at $3. US company ATN International owns a 51 per cent stake in the company.
January 2. One Communications said today its internet service is fully operational again after a slowing in speeds over the new year’s holiday caused by severe weather in the US. In a statement today, One said intermittent degradation of speeds that began on Sunday afternoon was a result of freezing conditions which damaged fiber cabling on the US East Coast. “At approximately 1:30pm on Sunday, December 31, our operations team identified an initial network instability issue,” Frank Amaral, One’s chief executive officer, said. After further investigation it was determined that the source of the issue was in the US where we deliver all of our internet traffic. By late evening, around 10pm, our US service providers confirmed that there was a fault impacting multiple customers in addition to One Communications. While we don’t have the full details yet, we understand that the issue and delayed repair efforts stemmed from severe freezing weather conditions along the East Coast which damaged a portion of fiber cabling in Rhode Island. The fault lead to reduced internet speeds intermittently for approximately 33 hours. Network services were fully normalized around 10pm on Monday, January 1. Our sincerest apologies go out to our customers for the service impact, along with our delayed communications on the issue. Needless to say we’re very frustrated by the event especially with it occurring over the holiday, knowing how everyone is so dependent on their internet services. An internal review on the fault has already begun, inclusive of our overseas service providers, in order to assess and improve our diagnosis, resolution and communication processes.”
January 2. “Utility tokens” is set to be a buzz-phrase in Bermuda in 2018 as the island increases its presence in the world of digital assets and blockchain technology. With the Bermuda Government stating its intention to embrace new technologies and opportunities centered on digital ledger technology, commonly known as blockchain, the world of utility tokens is in its sights. But that’s not all, there are also moves to bring the “best minds” in the world of fintech and insurtech to the island to interact with Bermuda’s insurance and reinsurance industry and international business. And a key ambition of the drive into the new technologies is to create job and education opportunities for Bermudians. The Government’s cryptocurrency initiative is under the direction of Wayne Caines, Minister of National Security. A two-pronged task force was announced in November, with one team exploring business development opportunities, and the other dealing with legal and regulatory matters. An initial focus is to consider a regulatory framework covering the promotion and sale of utility tokens that are aligned to blockchain networks. John Narraway, who is part of the business development team, said there is an interest in the crowd funding side of utility tokens. “We’re not looking at bitcoins or changing currencies. We are looking at a different way of doing fundraising,” he said. The sale of utility tokens, through a process called initial coin offerings, globally raised a combined $3.25 billion in 2017. Utility tokens are generally digital coupons on a blockchain distribution network that are sold to buyers. Tokens can be transferred on the network and traded on cryptocurrency exchanges. They serve different functions, such as granting future access to a company’s services or products. A defining characteristic of utility tokens is that they are not designed as investments. Bermuda is no stranger to digital currency and tokens. In November, e-sports company Unikrn Bermuda Ltd launched its sports betting token Unikoin. And in 2007, Bermudian-headquartered Hub Culture launched Ven, the world’s first digital currency. Mr Narraway, a consultant with the Bermuda Business Development Agency, said: “Bermuda is a very strong capital market globally. We are seeing companies using these token launches to raise capital as opposed to going to traditional venture capital. We see that as an opportunity. If they are raising money that way we want their business in Bermuda, and we need to be adapting that type of philosophy at the same time. Whether it is a prudent way to raise money or not depends on what type of industry you are in.” While Mr Caines said Bermuda must ensure the appropriate legal and regulatory framework is in place. “Everything we are going to do will be at rapid speed, but we are going to leave no stone unturned as it relates to legal and regulatory elements of the project. We want to make sure that we remain a blue-chip jurisdiction. We have worked hard to keep our reputation stellar. This Government will do nothing to jeopardize Bermuda’s international business reputation.” He said there needs to be a legal framework “that is robust but also light-touch and allows us to grow in this space”. And he highlighted the island’s decades-old reinsurance industry as an example of the way ahead. He said the reinsurance market has been one of the bedrocks of the island’s international business, adding: “International finance has become something we are known for all around the world. We believe that right now there is a good opportunity for a step change, to bring inward investment into Bermuda, to bring people that are technology savvy to Bermuda. We can take the best practice from the insurance and reinsurance market; we have a formula that works. Let’s morph this into this new phase. We have the brains, the history, pedigree, the infrastructure. We tweak those, find the people from around the world that are in this sphere, and marry the opportunity with our environment. We have some of the best people in Bermuda on our teams, and I believe we should see some green shoots soon.” Mr Caines said people realize the new technology is an opportunity stretching beyond utility tokens into fintech [financial technology], insurtech, medtech and edutech. “Let’s look at creating infrastructure where start-ups see that Bermuda is getting it right, in a phased and stepped approach. We want to let the world know that Bermuda is open for business in this space and using these sorts of technology.” Another key aspect is the benefits Bermudians might reap from the initiatives. Mr Caines said: “The opportunities will filter directly through our country. And for any project we do there has to be an education component. It has to have the ability to give the people of our country opportunities. We are going to train our young people to code as well. We want a project that is symbiotic — that all our country can benefit from. This would involve companies investing in our school students, developing the appetite, setting the stage, getting their minds ready for being a part of this technology.” Meanwhile, Mr Narraway said Bermuda is now interacting with some of the world’s leading people in the new technologies. He mentioned the success of the Hub Culture innovation campus at Ariel Sands during the summer, and said: “Since then, we have three projects in train that are around bringing the best minds in industries to come down. One is a two-week think tank that will interact with the insurance industry here for insurtech.”
January 2. Bermuda-based life reinsurer Athene Holding Ltd is spinning off Ager Bermuda Holding Ltd, the holding company of its European operations. Ager’s main subsidiary is Athene Lebensversicherung, based in Wiesbaden, Germany, and it specializes in life run-off business. Athene will remain a minority shareholder in Ager along with other global investors including private-equity firm Apollo Global Management, LLC. Athene will also be “a preferred reinsurer for AGER’s spread liabilities”, the company said, and have representation on its board of directors. Ager will change its name to Athora Holding Ltd, effective mid-January 2018. “The new name and look reflects Ager’s expanded capabilities and the exciting direction the company is taking, conveying a highly efficient, constantly improving business with an analytical approach to success for all stakeholders,” the company stated. Ager raised around €2.2 billion in April 2017, laying the foundation for its European growth plans and furthering its “goal of becoming the premier European run-off consolidator and life reinsurance partner”. In August last year, Ager announced its intention to acquire Aegon Ireland, a Dublin-based insurer, and expects to draw down capital to close the acquisition in the first quarter of 2018.
January 2. Breaking up is hard to do. Ask Fathers United. The group’s 40 members met once a month for 41 years until it disbanded in 2015. Even though age and declining health had reduced the numbers, the eight who remain still question if it was the right move. The problem is, they miss each other. “The end was a sad thing because it was a good organisation, but we had to do it because there were so few of us left,” said Dennis Hollis, 80. "Many of our members have passed away.” Added Hadley Woolridge, 87: “We still have so many things to talk about.” The late Charles Weldon came up with the idea. “He’d invite a group of us over to his house for a codfish breakfast after church on Father’s Day,” said Mr Woolridge. “It got to be a tradition so, in 1973, he said we ought to form a club.” It took a year to thrash out the details. United we stand in fatherly love became their motto. The group’s purpose was to develop and improve the social well-being of the community. Their monthly meetings were always on a Friday night, initially in their homes and then in a building near Flatts Post Office. Not just anybody could become a member. “I joined in 1997,” said Mr Hollis. “A friend invited me. I knew everyone in the group but they had to accept you — you couldn’t just join. They didn’t let just anyone in. That’s what made it a good organisation. All it took for someone to be turned down, was a single objection. It had to be someone that we all wanted to spend time with,” said Mr Woolridge. “If one person said no, we didn’t ask why, we just said no.” Each man gave $500. The money was put in a bank account and the interest used for charitable projects. The $500 was returned to the member’s next of kin, on his death. “We’d donate wheelchairs to people, we’d give scholarships to students, we’d give to any worthy cause that came up,” said Boyd Smith, a former secretary, treasurer and president. The 90-year-old reckons they donated thousands of dollars to people in need over the years. “It was a good group,” he said. “Every Christmas we had a function and gave raffles and prizes to people. I miss them. It was a very congenial group.” Henry Trott, who was one of the youngest members, is 79. Frederick Raynor, 85, loved helping organize Fathers United’s social functions. “I was never interested in holding office,” he said. “I loved to entertain. I always preferred to be on the outside doing different things. They put on a lot of good functions. We had a night for the wives and everyone enjoyed themselves. We had a lot of good days.” Fish fries raised money for charities; there’s a scrapbook full of thank you letters. “The first year we helped a young lady with lupus,” said Mr Woolridge. “In other years, we helped to build two pews at Bethel AME Church. They were doing a lot of renovations.” If an organisation needed something in a hurry they would simply take the necessary cash out of club funds. One year, they painted the kitchen at St Mark’s Church. Another year, they raised $750 so a young Bermudian could travel with performance group Up With People. “Every Father’s Day we visited one of the churches and from there we went to one of the establishments to have a luncheon,” said Mr Woolridge. They also went on vacation together. “Once, we went to New Orleans and came back on a cruise boat,” said Mr Trott. We went to Baltimore several times. Our wives and families would come with us, so we all had a great time.” The group met Kurt Schmoke, Baltimore’s first African-American mayor, and invited him here in 1989. “We held a special banquet for him at the old Marriott Castle Harbour Hotel,” said Mr Raynor. The group were thrilled when Mr Schmoke returned to Bermuda on holiday the following year. “He stayed at Elbow Beach,” said Mr Woolridge. “We all became really good friends with him.” Two years ago, Mr Smith suggested the club disband and the remaining funds be used to support members in nursing homes or poor health. It was with a heavy heart that Mr Woolridge agreed. “We didn’t owe anything so we distributed the money among all the people who were living,” he said. Added Mr Hollis: “It was a good organisation. Everyone worked together. We helped a lot of people.”
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