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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
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Bermuda's Royal Gazette newspaper is not published on Sundays or Public Holidays.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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. 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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January 20, 2018.
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