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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
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A social entrepreneur and equal rights campaigner from the US has hosted a weekend retreat on the island. Trabian Shorters, the chief executive and founder of the BMe Community, spoke at the Rosewood resort at Tucker’s Point. He was welcomed on Thursday by David Burt, the Premier, along with government colleagues. BMe’s website said it was a “network of community builders known for defining people by their positive contributions to society”. The organisation carries out training and consultancy work with other groups and said it aimed to recognize as many people as possible as heroes that had helped to shape America. BMe added it used “asset-framing” to define people by their aspirations and how they have influenced other people. Mr Burt said: “It was a privilege to welcome such a prestigious group of black men and women committed to empowerment and doing transformational work in their communities. This group is geared towards building more caring and prosperous communities and it was wonderful to meet them all.”
Police are to hold consultations on how to provide a better police presence in the town of St George. But a former mayor said yesterday that there were several buildings in the town that could be used as a police station. Kenneth Bascome, also a former MP for the area, added that some could be pressed into service with “a little modification”. He said: “With the number of residents and the number of visitors in St George’s from April, we need to have a facility for people to go and raise their concerns.” Mr Bascome was speaking after Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley floated the idea of a stronger presence in St George’s, six years after the former police station was closed. The station was shuttered in 2012 for repairs but has not been reopened since and the area is now covered by the Southside station in St David’s. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said in 2017 that the old station had deteriorated so much that it was no longer fit for use. Mr Bascome said the town got about 2,000 visitors a day from April to October each year. He added that a police station would help people to be more relaxed about walking around St George’s. He added: “My belief is that if you have police on a continuous basis, a lot of problems could be nipped in the bud. I live here; I am out in St George’s early in the mornings, late at nights ... It is my community and I would like to see it prosper.” He added that he would discuss his ideas for a police station in St George’s with Mr Corbishley. Mr Bascome said: “Just having the police visible would let the residents feel safer. Sight deters." A police spokesman explained the commissioner was committed to a police presence in St George’s as part of a move towards more community-based policing. The re-introduction of parish constables in the next few weeks is expected to provide better contacts between officers and local communities across the island. The spokesman said that “the commissioner recognizes the challenges in establishing a more permanent police contact point, whether a station facility or a shared location with other partners.” Quinell Francis, the Mayor of St George, was pleased that several options were being explored for a police station. But she also wanted to see a policing plan for the historic town, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Ms Francis said: “The management plan for the World Heritage Site is currently being drafted and it is the concern of the Corporation of St George that a detailed policing and fire plan is required to ensure we maintain our World Heritage Site designation.” Ms Francis pointed out that there has been a decrease in the police presence in St George’s over the years. She added: “It is indeed good news that the BPS is restructuring and will be working with the community going forward. We in the town look forward to working with the police commissioner and the Bermuda Police Service to ensure that St George has the necessary police patrols it deserves.” Mr Caines said in 2017 that the old station on York Street would require huge amounts of work. He added: “None of the many refurbishments have managed to fix the multitude of problems, including the roof and rotting joists.” But Mr Caines said that a police move back to the town would be considered “if a suitable building is found in St George’s and there is a legitimate demand for enhanced police services”.
A senior police officer with professional standards experience is being sought overseas by the Bermuda Police Service. The BPS posted an advertisement in the Police Oracle in Britain for the one-year post, with an annual salary of $135,000, to “lead and develop its new Professional Standards Department”. The job would include managing complaints and misconduct, as well as protecting the force from corruption, with the department answering to the deputy commissioner. The new job would also entail assisting both the departments of customs and corrections in anti-corruption. According to the advert, the post is scheduled to start in March. The BPS examined routes for modernising their disciplinary procedures in 2015, with Victor Marshall, a British expert on professional standards. It found broad support for “learning and improving, rather than punishment and blame”. Parliament approved the Police Amendment Act 2016 that following July, which included a disciplinary model based on that of England, Wales and the Isle of Wight.
A top executive at the Bermuda Tourism Authority is to leave after five years in the job. Pat Phillip-Fairn, the chief product and experiences development officer, will step down in April for family reasons. Ms Phillip-Fairn said: “I feel like I’m leaving a family at work. The only way to successfully complete the difficult, important work in tourism is to do it with a group of people who are passionate, committed and working cohesively. Bermuda’s tourism industry benefits from those people, inside and outside of the BTA. I’m truly gratified about what we’ve accomplished at the BTA over the past five years and it was a privilege to do it with a team of people so talented and close-knit. It’s the part of the work I think I will miss the most.” A BTA spokesman said the organisation had started the recruitment process to fill the post, which it previously reported carries an annual salary of between $175,000 and $275,000. Kevin Dallas, the BTA chief executive, added: “While I’m sad to have a valued leader in our organisation depart, pride is what I feel most when I look back at the enormous accomplishments of Pat and her team over the past five years. Under Pat’s leadership, her division has shepherded a new wave of tourism product and experiences that cater to younger visitors who are more adventurous and experiential. This work has proven critical because it not only improves the experience of travelers, but also increases visitor spending, boosts our economy and creates new opportunities for Bermudian entrepreneurs and job seekers.” Erica Smith, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation executive director, said: “Pat and I have worked closely together over the last few years in growing tourism entrepreneurship in Bermuda. She has been a fierce advocate for highlighting and developing Bermuda’s entrepreneurial talent and offerings in the tourism sector, while growing the product and experiences remit by leaps and bounds. Always looking to connect Bermuda’s tourism entrepreneurs with new opportunities, our island’s tourism sector is better off for Pat being in it. She will be a miss in that regard.” Ms Phillip-Fairn joined the BTA in April 14, 2014 after serving as the deputy director of corporate governance and communications at the Bermuda Monetary Authority. In the post, she worked with other organisations to build on the success of the Bermuda Heroes Weekend Carnival, the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts, the Bermuda Street Food Festival and the Peppercorn Ceremony. She also worked to build Bermuda as a sports tourism destination. She promoted existing events such as the Newport Bermuda Race and worked to launch new ones such as the Antigua Bermuda race. The BTA spokeswoman said Ms Phillip-Fairn was part of the successful bid to host the ITU World Triathlon. She added: “Since winning the bid she has been at the forefront of management efforts to ensure the Bermuda Government, Bermuda Triathlon Association, the International Triathlon Union, Upsolut Sports and the BTA are all working together to put on a world-class event.”
Almost $230,000 a year is being shelled out to treat a violent child sex offender in Britain, The Royal Gazette can reveal. An agreement reached between the Bermuda Hospitals Board and St Andrew’s Healthcare in England to provide mental health services for criminals runs until 2020. The contract covers people with a criminal background or those seen as being at high risk of committing offences. It is understood the only patient being treated under the deal is Merrick Seaman, who was jailed for eight years in 2011 for a serious sex assault on a five-year-old girl. The news came after a list of BHB contracts valued at $50,000 or more, published in the Official Gazette this month, included St Andrew’s, which is in Northampton. It showed the board agreed a $458,949, two-year contract with the high-security psychiatric hospital, to run from June 2018 to June 2020. A BHB spokeswoman explained: “St Andrew’s has been contracted to provide forensic mental health services. This is a specialized inpatient mental health service for people who have a history of criminal offending or are at high risk of offending.” The contract was not linked to a specific individual, but only Seaman was receiving care under the agreement. The BHB spokeswoman declined to confirm the patient was Seaman. Seaman was moved from Westgate prison last year, but held at the Co-Educational Facility in St George’s for three months. The 33-year-old was first eligible for parole in April 2013 but it was recommended that his release should be delayed until the risk of him committing further offences was reduced. He was given another psychiatric review the next year after he said: “I intend to go on a killing spree when I get out of jail.” Seaman was convicted of wounding another inmate in 2016, which resulted in an additional nine months being added to his sentence. His earliest release date was June 15 last year, but the Government moved him to the Co-Ed facility two days earlier. A Supreme Court judgment released last August showed the Ministry of Health and the BHB sought a hospital detention order to allow Seaman to be moved to a British hospital. Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams said Seaman could be sent overseas for care and treatment and that he should be detained at St Andrew’s. She said in a written judgment: “The wider purpose is to protect the community from further harm, which Seaman would likely cause if not further detained and treated.” Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, confirmed in October that Seaman was transferred to “a suitable clinical location in the UK” on September 4. The problem of how to deal with prisoners with psychiatric illness has been discussed for years because of the island’s lack of high-security accommodation in a hospital. An agreement with St Andrew’s was signed in 2017, but the BHB said at the time that “complex legal considerations” still had to be resolved. Parliament passed legislation last June to help those who need psychiatric treatment in a “medium or high-security unit not available in Bermuda”. St Andrew’s, A British charity, said on its website: “St Andrew’s Healthcare provides specialist mental healthcare for people with challenging mental health needs.” It added: “We care for some of the most clinically complex patients in the mental health system, people who could not, in many cases, be treated elsewhere. Many of our patients have been in the criminal justice system and are some of the most vulnerable people being treated anywhere in the health service. We develop innovative ways to help our patients to recover, creating a personalized package of care designed around each individual, which focuses on their physical and spiritual wellbeing as well as mental health.”
The rights of children in Bermuda will come under the spotlight at a major conference in Japan next week. Tiffanne Thomas, an independent social worker, has been invited to speak on child protection and the influence of culture on a country’s protection of children at the International Symposium on Social Sciences and Management. Ms Thomas told The Royal Gazette she was recommended to the event organisers by Lonnie Morris of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology because of her research into ethical leadership and the effects of culture on leadership. She said: “I was completely humbled to be recommended and then selected to be a part of this event. We often think that what we do in Bermuda is in isolation but experiences such as this have confirmed that indeed the world is watching. I have been involved in a number of research projects and that work has focused primarily on leadership, specifically ethical leadership and the influence of culture on our behaviors. Next week’s presentation will primarily explore how a country shapes its protection of vulnerable populations, the role of leadership and the influence of culture. These three constructs will be analyzed. The symposium attracts leaders in various fields — technology, medicine, social sciences, to name a few. I am excited to hear how our individual fields intersect and what that means on a global scale.” Ms Thomas has acted as an advocate in court — a litigation guardian — for children in Bermuda since 2014, but in November she withdrew her services from 17 cases and filed a $2.6 million legal action against the Government for its failure to pay her for her services. The Government has also tabled an amendment to the law, which Ms Thomas and others said would erode the right of vulnerable youngsters to independent legal representation in court. Debate on the Bill was postponed late last year. Ms Thomas said international interest in child protection in Bermuda had increased as a result of recent developments surrounding litigation guardians. The conference will be held in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, Japan’s second-biggest island, from January 22 to 24. Ms Thomas’s presentation will be her second on an international stage. She spoke at the International Leadership Association’s Global Conference in Belgium in 2017.
A taxi driver punched a minibus operator in the face in a row about passengers at a South Shore beach. Aaron Scott, 34, admitted in Magistrates’ Court yesterday that he hit Larry Franklin, 67, because he thought he had tried to poach prospective passengers. Scott, from Warwick, told the court: “I gave him one. I shouldn’t have, but I did.” The incident happened on August 6 in the car park at Horseshoe Beach in Southampton. Prosecutors said the pair got into an argument over passengers leaving the beach. Carrington Mahoney, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, said Scott punched Mr Franklin in the mouth without warning. He added that Scott was pulled away by other drivers. Mr Franklin suffered a cut lip and numbness in his mouth as a result of the blow. Scott left the area before police arrived, but went to Hamilton Police Station the next day. Scott told the court that when he arrived at the beach, there were only two or three other taxis, all of which were waiting for their passengers to return. He said: “I approached these tourists to ask if they needed transport back to Dockyard and this driver says they didn’t need it.” The pair argued and Scott admitted that he threw a single punch. Scott told the court that Horseshoe Bay had become a battleground between taxi drivers and minibus drivers because of the lack of regulation at the popular tourist attraction. He said: “Minibus drivers form a line, kind of like a train, and they squeeze the taxi drivers out of work. They have signs to get people to fill up their buses and taxi drivers are sitting there waiting for work.” Scott said that action needed to be taken to regulate taxis and minibuses in the area as is done at the airport. He added: “People who come to the beach don’t know what vehicle they should get in. With the amount of minibuses on the road, the money is going into their pockets, not our pockets. It just needs to be properly assessed.” Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe fined Scott $1,000 for the assault and advised him to stay away from Mr Franklin.
A social-media expert is to discuss cyber- bullying and inappropriate online behavior at a talk tonight. Deana Puccio, a former criminal prosecutor in New York, will make a presentation at Bermuda High School tonight from 7pm to 8.30pm. She is the cofounder of The Raising Awareness and Prevention Project, set up to advise young people, parents and youth workers about internet safety and body image problems. The presentation will focus on responsible and irresponsible social media use, likes and dislikes, inappropriate posting of photos and videos, bullying, cyber-bullying and related subjects. A spokeswoman for BHS told parents: “We hope you will be able to attend this important session and come away with some valuable tools to help you as parents empower your children to make wise choices online.” The free talk will take place in the Queen Elizabeth Assembly Hall at the school. Parking is available at the Richmond Road entrance and on the Serpentine Road ramp. For more information, call 295-6153.
Barriers to the success of public school pupils must be swept aside, the new head of the education board said yesterday. Tim Jackson said: “While we have a significant number of students graduating from the Bermuda public school system who are doing well, we must also address the roadblocks that prevent some of our students from demonstrating their potential and abilities. As a board, we must work diligently to ensure that students and educators operate in schools that are clean, safe and operational.” Dr Jackson was speaking after he was appointed chairman of the Board of Education. The veteran teacher has more than two decades of public education experience in Bermuda and the United States. He served as head teacher at Sandys Secondary Middle School from 2007 to 2016. Dr Jackson also taught at Whitney Institute and was deputy principal at CedarBridge Academy. He said that the public often heard about the “negativity of public schools, and how they are failing our young people”. Dr Jackson added: “While I have the microphone, I will take the liberty of sharing a snapshot of the countless achievements and accomplishments of young Bermudians who have been educated in the Bermuda public school system.” He highlighted one former CedarBridge Academy pupil who went on to the University of Technology in Jamaica for a degree in mechanical engineering and last year completed a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering at Imperial College, London, one of the world’s premier science and technology universities. Dr Jackson added that four former Berkeley Institute pupils are now studying a variety of subjects at St John’s University in New York City, including risk management and underwriting. He said that Bermuda’s Plan 2022 strategy for education insisted that public school leavers must be “well prepared socially, emotionally and academically for postsecondary success. All students will have diverse and engaging learning opportunities. Furthermore, students will not just be exposed to a college-focused curriculum. They will also have access to career-focused training. Plan 2022 will ensure that each child is on an individualized pathway to personal success — a pathway that truly takes into account personal needs and interests.” Dr Jackson said that the board looked forward to “rolling up our sleeves and doing what is in the best interest of one of our most precious natural resources.” Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said that Dr Jackson had a proven track record as a teacher. He added that a strong board of education was crucial in helping to improve the education system. Mr Rabain said: “We need strong visionaries and people committed to not only providing guidance but willing to hold those leading this reform accountable.” He added that the public education system faced “unique challenges”. Mr Rabain said: “The new board chairman and members have given their commitment to performing the tasks needed to reform education in Bermuda.” He added that the board had been asked to tackle increased incidents of disruptive behavior in classrooms and add its views on the Government’s proposal to phase out middle schools. Ru-Zelda Severin was appointed to the deputy chairwoman’s role. Ms Severin is a senior lecturer of Music and Education at Bermuda College. She has taught from preschool to university level during her 30-year career in education.
UK Prime Minister's Brexit Deal is voted down in historic massive defeat. See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46885828
Extra legislation to protect the independence of human rights commissioners is needed, it was claimed yesterday. Tawana Tannock, the outgoing chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission, said the organisation was not linked to a government department but legislation had not been amended in line with its remit. She joined the board in 2013 and was appointed after a selection process that was open to the public for the first time because of changes in the Human Rights Act, which came into effect in October 2012. They provided for an independent selection and appointment committee to recruit, interview and appoint the commissioners, at least one third of whom have to be members of the Bermuda Bar. The HRC was removed from the Government’s Department of Human Affairs in April 2016 and became a non-ministry department. Ms Tannock believes the Act should also allow commissioners to help manage the organisation. She said: “If you are going to go from a government department to an independent body, it’s important that change is reflected in your legislation. For instance, you will find a lot of references in the Act about needing the approval or reporting to the minister responsible for human rights, so that should be reviewed. Who should be getting those reports? Who should be laying the reports before the House? What approval needs to be given? Does approval need to be given?” Ms Tannock added that the HRC had experienced no political interference during her two consecutive three-year terms. She said the Progressive Labour Party administration appointed a minister to liaise with the commission, but under the former One Bermuda Alliance government that responsibility was the premier’s. Ms Tannock said: “It should really be something that is specified in the Act.” A new team of commissioners is expected to be appointed by the end of the month and Ms Tannock said there was a need for “a corporate governance body of commissioners”. Ms Tannock said: “One of the things that I think is most important with this new body of commissioners, whoever they may be, is that they are passionate about human rights but they also are skilled in the effective management of an organisation or some aspect of it.” She added: “I think the Act should be reviewed to ensure that commissioners can actively help the executive director and her staff to manage the commission.”
A lack of leadership on same-sex marriage slowed progress towards equality, the outgoing chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission has claimed. Tawana Tannock said the row was the most difficult subject she had tackled in her six years with the HRC, three of them as chairwoman. Ms Tannock admitted: “I’ve got to be honest and say the same-sex marriage debate.” She said the goalposts were shifted and that residents were unable to “respectfully disagree” on the controversy. But she admitted that she regretted that she had lacked tolerance for people who opposed any recognition of same-sex unions. Ms Tannock said: “I felt, and I still feel, that we have taken two steps forward and one step back. It was difficult because I feel like the goalposts, in terms of what people expected, changed. At one point, I remember we were approached and asked, what’s your position on civil unions? We said we think it’s important that same-sex couples have the same rights and protections afforded to them, however this is managed, whether it’s civil unions or marriage. It was this discussion about whether or not civil unions went far enough, then of course you had the referendum, I just felt like there was never any clear leadership on what, as a country, we should do to protect the rights of some of our citizens. That was very disheartening.” Ms Tannock said the commission supported “legal recognition of rights for same-sex couples”, although the position was more complicated than saying it was for or against same-sex marriage. The same rights that are afforded for mixed-sex couples should be afforded for couples of the same sex.” The corporate lawyer said one person had told her in public: “I’m going to pray for you, I’m going to pray that you change your mind.” However, Ms Tannock said: “I am not, in any way, shape or form, leading the charge on this. There are other people who have done far more work who deserve far more credit for trying to push the ball forward on this, but I thought to myself, this is why people are afraid to stand up for what they believe. If I’m getting this type of response, what must other people be encountering? “It was really saddening to me that people on either side of the argument didn’t seem to respectfully disagree.” Ms Tannock said she experienced “vitriol” she had never seen before. She added that the HRC could have better informed the public about its stance on same-sex marriage. Ms Tannock said: “If I had to change something that I could do differently over that past six years, I would be more tolerant of people who had opinions that I did not agree with. I think what I should have done — myself not the HRC — there were segments of the community that I wish I would have listened to a little bit more so that I could understand where they were coming from. You can be so concerned with what you think is the appropriate thing to do that you fail to understand the point of view of others. I think a lot of times, because I failed to do that, I ended up preaching to the choir.” The Court of Appeal dismissed the Government’s claim last November that former Chief Justice Ian Kawaley was wrong to strike down parts of the Domestic Partnership Act, which was designed to replace same-sex marriage with civil unions. The Progressive Labour Party administration later requested permission to take the case to London’s Privy Council. Ms Tannock said: “I don’t understand why the Government is appealing this decision.” She added she was “very pleased” when legislation was passed to ban discrimination on the grounds of mental illness, but that “the major issue” of employment discrimination on the grounds of age should have been added as well. Ms Tannock explained the Human Rights Act only offered protection based on age in relation to the disposal of premises and goods, services and facilities. She said: “We actively campaigned to have the age of retirement lifted or even reviewed. Preferably, removed altogether, but reviewed in some manner.” The PLP government said in its Throne Speech last year that a change to the mandatory public service retirement age would be considered. Ms Tannock said: “I’m hopeful that maybe we’ll see a change come soon because with the cost of living in Bermuda now and the cost of health insurance, it’s really difficult for our seniors who are not working, who are able-bodied and capable, to have to retire mandatory. I think it’s ironic that it’s not in the private sector that there’s this mandatory age of retirement, but it’s with the Government, who actually should be the ones who are leading the charge.”
Arbitrade has put 38 gold bars on show to accompany its latest claim about the billions of dollars in bullion it has to back its crypto tokens. It has provided two photographs which show gold bars stacked in front of a card that features Arbitrade’s logo and the names of four of its crypto tokens, including “dignity” the token that is currently in circulation. The Royal Gazette is seeking further clarity on the press release, which mentions a $250 million credit being provided to Arbitrade by its precious metals procurement agent Sion Trading FZE. It also claims that a shipment of $3.8 million of gold bars has been sent to it, through Sion, and that the bullion is now vaulted in Dubai. Arbitrade is a cryptocurrency exchange and coin company that is registered in Bermuda, and has acquired the Victoria Hall office block to be its global headquarters. It is in the process of applying for its subsidiary Arbitrade Exchange (Bermuda) Ltd to be licensed under the Digital Asset Business Act 2018. In November, Arbitrade’s chief executive officer Len Schutzman said the company had “title” to 395,000 kilograms of bullion, which would be worth $16.4 billion today. The company plans to use the bullion to back a number of crypto tokens. However, Arbitrade has not said who has given it title to the gold and under what conditions, or where the gold is, or the name of the “independent public accounting firm” that it says has verified the account. It has stated the reason for this is because it is legally bound by non-disclosure and privacy obligations. In its latest press release, Arbitrade said “Sion has provided $250 million in credit to facilitate these [gold] purchases on Arbitrade’s behalf”. It also said it was “happy to confirm that it has completed the purchase and vaulting of the additional $3.8 million of hallmarked gold bars through Sion”. The Royal Gazette has sent four questions to Arbitrade’s Bermudian-based law firm Trott & Duncan regarding the release. We have asked why Arbitrade is continuing to add to its bullion stockpile after it had stated it already had title to 395,000kg of gold. We asked this, because the previous amount it said it had title to is sufficient to meet Arbitrade’s stated requirements for backing its crypto tokens, based on details it released last year. We also asked why Arbitrade needs $250 million in credit from Sion to make the purchases, and how and when that will be paid back, and why there were only 38 single kilogram bars on show in the two photographs — 20 in one, 18 in the other, representing a value of about $1.5 million. In addition, we queried two mistakes on the Arbitrade card in the photographs, where the crypto token dignity is spelled as “dignaty”, and the sentence below appears to read: “Trade tokens backed by real precious metals for the only real trade”, with the word tokens spelled as “tokes”. Sion Trading holds a commercial licence in the Ras Al Khaimah economic zone of the United Arab Emirates, where its activity is listed as trading non-manufactured precious metals. It is a subsidiary of Scotia International of Nevada Inc, a mining equipment supply company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. This month, Sion announced it is set to become a major shareholder of Arbitrade, having entered into a conditional agreement for the acquisition of the shares in Arbitrade Ltd currently held by Leila Holdings Ltd, a Bermuda exempted company owned by Arbitrade founder Troy Hogg. The deal is subject to approval being granted by the Bermuda Monetary Authority. The Royal Gazette is awaiting a response to its questions about the latest gold bullion announcement. We are also awaiting answers to a separate set of questions sent to Arbitrade a month ago. Arbitrade’s dignity token peaked in value at about 29 cents in May, but has declined and is now valued at about 0.6 of a cent per token on CoinMarketCap.
Changes in the administration of payments to families of elderly war veterans were defended yesterday by the Ministry of Finance. Officials said a new system for the payments, which included processing of claims overseas, was introduced last year to eliminate errors and the potential for fraud. The ministry hit back after the families of veterans complained that the new system had led to delays, which inflicted financial hardship on claimants. But two veterans’ families said yesterday the problems started only when the Government’s changes to the way payments were handled came into effect. The daughter of a veteran’s widow, who is 85, said that her caregiver’s claims, which she submitted to the health insurance department, “used to work fine”. She added: “It would take me a month to get paid. As of last summer, July 1, it changed.” The woman said a three-month backlog left the family $10,000 behind in payments. She added: “It’s now down to two months, which is an improvement, but still frustrating.” She also questioned why she was told by the Department of Ageing and Disability Services last week that she would have to renew her qualifications as a home caregiver to her mother, the widow of a Second World War veteran, who needed round-the-clock care. She said: “It’s a huge pain — I have between February 1 and April 30 to re-register.” Another woman, the 90-year-old wife of a Second World War veteran, said that she did not need a caregiver, but her husband’s medical benefit statements had come each month with a claim that their coverage limit had been exceeded, which was wrong. She said the problem also started last July. The woman, from St George’s, said she and her husband lived at home but needed the income from his war veteran’s payments to cover large medical bills. She explained her husband had dementia and a heart condition and had to take 16 pills a day. The woman said she “panicked” when she received the first warning that coverage had been exceeded, but was later told not to worry and that the medical costs would continue to be paid. She added: “That was a relief, because we didn’t know what was happening. We’re still getting the notices. I have all my faculties, but there are others out there who might be worrying themselves into a panic if the same thing is happening to them.” A spokeswoman for the finance ministry confirmed yesterday that the procedures for veteran’s benefits paid to caregivers were altered on July 1 last year. She explained that the Department of Social Insurance took two weeks to handle claims from caregivers who had not registered with the health ministry’s Ageing and Disability Services. Caretakers who were registered sent their claims for the care of war veterans to FutureCare, the Government’s health insurance scheme for seniors. But she added that the department was unable to vet all time sheet submissions to determine the skill sets and duties of caregivers — leading to the possibility of FutureCare and social insurance duplicate claims. The spokesman said a “flood” of claims had made it necessary to “streamline this process to prevent any potential abuse and duplication of payments”. The departments of social insurance and financial assistance, and the Ministry of Health, overhauled the payment procedure early last year. That included different levels of payments dependent on skill levels, with higher payments for registered nurses compared with unskilled relatives. The spokeswoman added that extra skills were required for all caregivers, including CPR training. She added that “integrity checks” also added to the processing time for claims. The spokeswoman said all claims for veterans’ caregivers were sent to FutureCare and vetted. She added the claims were submitted every week by caregivers and the health insurance department was given up to 30 days to process them. But claims above $7,000 a month — the limit set by the pension commissioners — were sent on to the Department of Social Insurance, which takes up to a week to process them. Claims were then sent to the Accountant-General’s offices for final payment, which could take another week. The spokeswoman said that all caregiver claims covered by FutureCare were sent overseas for processing by the health insurance department. The use of overseas facilities for processing payments originally began in 2010, following an RFP. The arrangement meant that some parts of claims were processed on island and some overseas dependent on whether they were processed by FutureCare or the Department of Social Insurance. But the spokeswoman insisted: “This entire process is now a lot smoother with the improved checks and balances in place.”
The Bermuda World Heritage Site Management Committee is excited to welcome the community to an open consultation session to take place the evening of Wednesday January 23rd, at which the committee will seek public input for the 2020 to 2025 management plan for Bermuda’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Bermuda World Heritage Site Management Committee is holding the session entitled ‘What Is Bermuda’s World Heritage Story?’ to involve the community early on in the planning process, which will be followed up throughout 2019 with additional public consultation phases. Participants at the January 23rd session will brainstorm together on the significance of ‘The Historic Town of St. George and Related Fortifications’ as an outstanding example of a “continuously occupied, fortified, colonial town dating from the early 17th century, and the oldest English town in the New World. Our Bermuda World Heritage Site has been designated by UNESCO as being important for all humankind,” said World Heritage Site Management Committee Chair Cheryl Hayward-Chew. “However, for this public consultation session, our committee wants to hear from Bermuda and particularly the St. George’s community, as to why and how our World Heritage Site is important for you and what story we can tell moving forward.” The Minister of Home Affairs The Hon. Walter Roban JP MP said, “The World Heritage Site Management Plan is a critical tool to maintain and utilize our UNESCO World Heritage status. It is important that our 2020-2025 plan for the World Heritage Site is co-created with the community. I, along with MPs for St. George’s and St. David’s, encourage you to attend this month’s session and engage with the other public consultation opportunities we will launch throughout 2019.” In the lead up to the January 23rd open consultation session, the Bermuda World Heritage Site Management Committee will be posting on social media to share information about Bermuda’s World Heritage status and to ask the community how and why the World Heritage Site is important to them using the hash tag #ourbermudaworldheritage. The session on January 23rd will be held at the World Heritage Centre at Penno’s Wharf in St. George’s starting at 5:30 p.m. with parking at Tiger Bay. For more information and to contribute to the management plan process, please see Facebook page “Town of St. George and its Related Fortifications World Heritage Site”. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Dr. Charlotte Andrews at firstname.lastname@example.org or 297-7756 to the open Facebook invite.
A waterside park is to get a major revamp, the City of Hamilton announced yesterday. The work at Albuoy’s Point off Front Street will include improved lighting, new seats and better access to the harbourfront. A spokeswoman for the city said: “With the vacating of the old Bank of Bermuda building by HSBC at Albuoy’s Point, the perfect opportunity has arisen for the City of Hamilton to carry out a revamp of the park. “The upgrades will include improved seating and shade, uplighting of the existing trees and revitalization of the pedestrian areas for accessing the park as well as the waterfront. A memorial to Second World War armed merchant cruiser HMS Jarvis Bay, based in Bermuda, will also be relocated to a better position in the park. The lightly armed ship left Bermuda in 1940 to escort a convoy to Britain and sacrificed itself in a battle against the powerful German cruiser Admiral Scheer to give the convoy time to scatter. Only 65 of its 254-strong crew survived the engagement and its commanding officer, Captain Edward Fegen, who went down with his ship, was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. The spokeswoman said the city had worked with architectural firm Cooper Gardner on the project, which will also include moving Against da Tide, a sculpture by Bill Ming that stands near the entrance of the HSBC building to the new-look park. The spokeswoman added: “HSBC has offered to donate the sculpture to the city if it can be suitably relocated. Upon planning approval, the city will issue further public updates about the start of the work and when it is estimated to be completed.” Kendaree Burgess, the chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, backed the plan. She said: “Anything that improves lighting and security can only be seen as a positive.” MND Properties submitted a planning application to transform the old Bank of Bermuda building into shops and offices last year. The application proposed retention of the framework of the almost 50-year-old building and the construction of a new frontage. The applicants said they hoped to begin work in April with a scheduled completion date of December 2020.
Larry Marshall has expressed fears that Bermuda Marathon Weekend may not survive because of a lack of sponsorship. The Royal Gazette reported last week that the lack of sponsorship is hindering the Bermuda National Athletics Association’s attempt to offer prize money for elite athletes, a dilemma Marshall suggests could be the “death knell” of the annual road-running spectacle. “They have some serious money problems and I don’t know how they are going to get elite runners here if they are not offering prize money,” said Marshall, whose son, Lamont, finished runner-up in the Bermuda 10K in 2015 and 2016. “It’s a terrible position to be in. I think the spectators this year are going to be very disappointed. This event might not survive and I’m not trying to be alarmist. When you can’t offer prize money and you’ve done so for many years, it’s a death knell. I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t last.” Donna Raynor, the BNAA president, is hoping funding can be found to enable prize money to be offered to the top athletes. “We’re still working on it; hopefully we will be able to come up with something. There are some discussions out there so our hope is that something, even at the last minute, will come through. A lot depends on how many people enter. We may end up with extra funds because the entries are up. " Marshall believes that Bermuda Marathon Weekend has been in decline for years because of “bad administration. Going back, you’ve had bad administration for decades and now the chickens are come home to roost. That’s where we are at now and they can make all the excuses they want. For the spectators, this year will be a rude awakening because of the lack of quality and it’s sad for road running and Bermuda. This was a premier event and it has just declined in quality. Every year we’ve just watched it go down.” Lamont Marshall, the reigning Bermuda Day Half-Marathon champion, has opted to skip the Bermuda Marathon Weekend for the third straight year. Marshall will begin the new season instead competing in the 5,000 metres at Boston University’s John Terrier Classic. He ran the fastest time by a Bermudian over the distance at the same event last year. The indoor meet will be held on January 25.
The European Union will be keeping a close eye on the impact of Bermuda’s Economic Substance Act — and pressuring the island to get tough on companies who lack physical presence. That was one of the clear messages to come out of last Friday’s KPMG presentation on the new law, which attracted hundreds of business people to the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club. The Act came into force at the start of this year and is aimed at addressing EU concerns about tax avoidance by multinational corporations. Those conducting relevant economic activities — including banking, insurance, shipping, intellectual property, headquarters and holding companies — will need to submit data to the Registrar of Companies, who will then decide which fail to make the grade. The criteria include “adequate” staffing, premises, core revenue-generating activities and expenditure on island. However, there is still no numeric definition of what adequate means. Those who fall short will receive notice to address their deemed lack of substance and ordered to pay a fine. A second and third notice can follow, with fines rising to a maximum of $250,000. After that the finance minister has the power to refer the case to the courts, which can ultimately strike the offending entity off the register. Will McCallum, managing director and head of tax at KPMG Bermuda, said the Bermuda Government had not yet offered any guidance on what adequate means. Clearly defined metrics on the number of employees and square footage office space that a specific type of company would need were not likely to emerge any time soon, he added. However, more guidance would become available over time and actions by the registrar and responses from the EU would help to clarify where the goalposts were, Mr McCallum said. “The EU is not leaving us alone. They’ll come back to see that this is working,” he said, adding that their clear expectation was that penalties would be imposed on those that failed the substance test. “We know that the goalposts will move. With time it will be clearer what adequate looks like. We don’t have that information now and for a lot of people, that’s a challenge. The phone started ringing for us in mid-December. People wanted to understand the rules better. If you want to know where you sit in the crosshairs, you really have to start thinking about what adequate looks like. I think you would know when you’re completely inadequate, in terms of people, premises and spend on the island.” In February, the EU is set to announce its list of non-cooperative jurisdictions. Bermuda will find out then whether its substance legislation is sufficient to stay off it. The good news for Bermuda’s insurance industry is that the EU is comfortable with the requirements of the Insurance Act 1978 as meeting the definition of substance, Mr McCallum said. The Act requires insurers to have their head office in Bermuda and be directed and managed from the island. This effective carve-out from the substance rules for the island’s flagship international commercial insurers and reinsurers gives Bermuda a key advantage over offshore rivals, Mr McCallum said. “This legislation aligns Bermuda with the new way of the world, the new world standard,” Mr McCallum said. “If it keeps us that off the blacklist, then it’s a good thing.” The OECD has indicated that it will adopt the EU standard, meaning that substance rules will likely be required by the world’s richest economies. Mr McCallum’s colleague Michael Penrose, senior manager, KPMG Advisory, gave an update on what other jurisdictions in the same boat were doing, particularly Cayman and the British Virgin Islands, as well as Crown Dependencies Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, all of which have passed their own substance legislation. While Bermuda has about 16,000 international companies on its register, Cayman with 120,000 incorporations and the BVI with 400,000 have a larger-scale issue with substance. The presentation highlighted two categories that will come under particular pressure from the ESA: entities based offshore to hold intellectual property that is licensed to other parts of its corporate group, and holding companies that store equity offshore without revenue-generating activities on island. Offshore companies falling short on substance would face a choice: to ramp up their operations or move elsewhere. The decision would boil down to not only what made economic sense for the company, but also to the jurisdiction’s capability to accommodate their new needs. “Looking across our peers, I can’t imagine a better place to deal with it, with real people with the right experience, infrastructure and physical presence, than Bermuda,. You look at the core industries of our international business sector and there are real, qualified people here doing real stuff.” Outsourcing of core activities can count as substance, the EU conceded in recent months, Mr McCallum said. However, employees of an outsourcing firm would have to be properly qualified to take on the responsibilities outsourced and could not be counted multiple times by multiple companies, Mr McCallum said, adding that it was not yet clear how this would be calculated. One of the EU’s concerns was “that we’re worried that one firm could effectively manage two dozen banks with three people, or their people and their office space could be double counted. The EU wants to know that this a real outsourcing arrangement.” KPMG believes one of the implications could be changes in the corporate services sector and the development of “super CSPs” equipped with experts to carry out the core activities required for a company to meet the substance rules. Mr McCallum gave the example of the island’s shipping sector and the potential for an outsourcer to undertake fleet management. New companies will be subject to the ESA rules immediately. Existing companies will have until July 1, 2019. While six months is a short time for those needing to make fundamental changes to their businesses to comply, Mr McCallum saw extensions to the deadline as unlikely. “Anecdotally, we know that Europe has indicated it would have severe issues with long transition periods,” he said. “So there’s a decent chance that six months is all we’ve got.” Down the pipeline, Mr McCallum said it was likely that the EU would closely monitor enforcement of the ESA and also expected public beneficial ownership register legislation by the end of this year.
A plan to hire a PR agency to help the Government’s workforce development department boost its image has been dropped. Businesses were asked to submit tenders last October for a campaign designed to generate a better image for the service. A government spokeswoman said: “The Department of Workforce Development has decided not to proceed with the contract regarding a public education and awareness campaign for the department. As such, no vendor was selected. Instead, the department will look to utilize internal resources to promote the department’s services.” The four-month project was due to launch last year and a request for quotation was published on the Government’s website. Companies were invited to submit quotes for a “public education and awareness campaign”. Targets for the scheme included roadshows, career fairs and “at least one positive story” a week in news outlets and social media. The RFQ said the department wanted to “demonstrate to the community that the department was making positive steps to ensure people were employed, trained and certified”. Other aims included improving the public perception and image of the department, improving knowledge of its services and promoting the department as a one-stop career centre. Notes explained that the Department of Workforce Development’s two main roles were training and career development, which covered help to find work. The department also runs an apprenticeship programme and regulates certification standards in four job sectors — electrical, welding, automotive mechanics and landscaping. Vendors were offered the chance to submit tenders between October 23 and November 2, with the campaign due to run from last December until the end of March. In a document added after the RFQ was posted online, one potential provider voiced concerns that the turnaround would be too tight. The vendor asked for clarification on the project’s launch date and said: “We are afraid this will not be enough time for development and planning in order for us to deliver a quality product.” Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, told MPs in November that the workforce development team was working on a public-relations campaign. She explained in a House of Assembly statement at the time: “It is the intent to continue to collaborate with the Department of Communications to develop a marketing strategy that will support and drive the work of the department. This strategy will focus on greater visibility and engagement with employers and the community through outreach, satellite training, increased education and awareness, career fairs, town hall meetings and social-media campaigns.” Ms Foggo said then a marketing strategy would be completed in December “for immediate implementation”. A government spokeswoman was unable to confirm last week how many submissions were received in response to the RFQ.
A man called the “personification” of why roadside breath tests were introduced narrowly avoided a prison sentence in Magistrates’ Court today. Fabio Barbosa, 32, pleaded guilty to two counts of refusing a breath test and one count of driving while impaired in relation to three separate incidents. The Pembroke resident also admitted two counts of driving without a valid driver’s licence. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe told Barbosa: “You are the poster child for someone who should be locked up. You have a problem with drinking and then getting in a vehicle and driving whilst impaired. The rest of the unsuspecting public were lucky that you didn’t cause a serious accident.” The court heard Barbosa was first arrested on December 1, 2017, after he drove a motorcycle through the scene of a serious accident on South Road in Paget, despite officers attempting to divert him away from the area. He was later stopped by officers on Southcote Road, where he admitted having “three or four” beers. Barbosa provided police with a breath sample, which showed a lower reading of 82 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80 milligrams. The defendant was stopped by police again eight days later as officers carried out vehicle checks on South Road in Devonshire. Barbosa admitted that he didn’t have a driver’s licence for the motorcycle, and officers noticed his breath smelled of alcohol. But he refused to provide police a breath sample and denied drinking. Barbosa was arrested a third time in the early hours of New Year’s Day this year, near the junction of Queen Street and Reid Street in Hamilton. At about 2.40am, officers were conducting roadside sobriety checks in the area when they saw Barbosa approach on a motorcycle. Instead of going through the checkpoint, Barbosa stopped short. He parked the bike on the side of the road, despite difficulty placing in on its stand, and began to walk away from the area. Stopped by the officers, he admitted that he had been drinking and that he did not have a licence. Barbosa then failed to provide a breath sample, both on the scene and at Hamilton Police Station. Prosecutor Larissa Burgess said Barbosa was a danger to himself and others on the road and that a prison sentence would be suitable in the circumstances. But Arion Mapp, duty counsel, argued that an alcohol assessment might be a better option as it was “obvious” Barbosa has an issue with alcohol. Mr Wolffe told Barbosa: “You are the personification of the reason why the roadside sobriety check points were set up. It’s atrocious. Your behavior, sir, is atrocious.” The senior magistrate ordered a drug and alcohol assessment on Barbosa and bailed him to observe Drug Treatment Court this week. He also banned Barbosa from driving all vehicles “until further order from the court”. Mr Wolffe added: “I was close to imprisoning you for at least 12 months just to show you how serious this is.”
Island taxi drivers have donated cash to charities for the elderly and terminally ill. The Bermuda Taxi Operators Association picked Age Concern and Friends of Hospice because it was aware its membership was ageing and wanted to donate to organisations that could help them in the future, as well as make a contribution to the broader community. David Frost, president of the BTOA, said: “Several of our drivers are over 75. Anything that pertains to the betterment of our taxi drivers, we would support.” Mr Frost added: “I think my drivers are proud of their association and that we are giving back to something that they may benefit from.” Michael Tuzo, assistant secretary of the BTOA, added: “I think it’s an honour for us. We realize that there are people in need and we are trying to assist in any way we can to help the charities accomplish their goals.” They were speaking after they handed cheques for $500 to the charities. The money was raised through the annual taxi association’s golf tournament last month, which was sponsored by fuel firm Rubis. Angel Smith, of the sales and marketing department at Rubis, said its contribution to the golf tournament was the company’s way of thanking the drivers. She added: “Taxi drivers are one of our biggest clients at the service stations so we wanted to give back.” Robin Sidders, Friends of Hospice executive director, said: “We are delighted and grateful to receive this generous donation from the Bermuda taxi association and to have the support of all their wonderful drivers. All donations received by Friends of Hospice go directly towards supporting Agape House and the many programmes and therapeutic services offered to patients and their loved ones, and also towards our Day Hospice Programme and bereavement services.” Claudette Fleming, executive director of Age Concern, said: “The association has supported us over the years. These funds will be instrumental in day-to-day operations in carrying out vital services for our seniors.” Mr Frost added that the association was now working on a plan to ensure taxi drivers have health insurance in case of illness.
A whopping 770-pound Atlantic bluefin tuna was brought ashore this weekend by a team of brothers fishing at Challenger Bank. Delvin Bean reeled in the fish on Saturday morning from the charter boat Paradise One captained by his brother, Allan Bean Jr. His advice for landing the giant was: “Take your slow, sweet time and don’t rush it.” He said the fish, which can weigh up to 2,000 pounds, were plentiful at the bank, a prime spot in the waters 12 miles southwest of the island. “Their population is very healthy,” Mr Bean said. “Right now these fish are migrating, heading north — there are schools of them out there.” The Beans bought Paradise One 12 years ago. “We’ve been on the scene for a long time,” he added. Their return to shore with the colossus brought onlookers flocking to Robinson’s Marina, near Somerset Bridge. But the fish’s ultimate destination was to be divided among the island’s restaurants. At $12 to $13 per pound, the bluefin represented an impressive catch worth more than $9,000. Bluefin are under threat in some parts of the world, but Mr Bean said Bermuda’s waters were doing well. “The market is growing, big time,” he said. “Every year we’re catching more because there are so many out there — this is not a one-off.”
Diners are invited to help promote island restaurants by sharing video reviews on social media. This year’s Bermuda Restaurant Weeks starts on Thursday and will run until February 3. The Bermuda Tourism Authority released a list last week of 49 eateries taking part in the scheme, which included the East End’s Tempest for the first time. Restaurateurs from across the island will offer two-course lunches at $22 and three-course dinners at fixed-price tiers of $32, $42 and $52. A webpage was launched on Friday to guide diners through the options. People who take part in the offers were asked to share short video testimonials on social media and include #BermudaRW. The BTA can share the best content with visitors, allowing them to see and hear the recommendations of residents. Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief product and experiences development officer at the authority, said: “Whether it’s on TripAdvisor, Google reviews or on your own social channels, visitors genuinely value the recommendations of locals. “It’s our goal during Bermuda Restaurant Weeks to raise the profile of what locals are saying about where to eat so that visitors benefit from that insider knowledge.” Video reviews with the BermudaRW hashtag should include where the meal was from, what made it memorable and which restaurant the diner would like to visit next. The BTA will choose a “most compelling” poster during each week of the campaign and they will win a restaurant weeks meal. Visitors and locals are eligible to participate as long as their post is public. Diners were also encouraged to vote online in the People’s Choice Award. Only restaurants featuring Bermuda-inspired dishes can qualify for the title so that the island’s food culture is promoted to visitors. Now in its eighth year, Bermuda Restaurant Weeks takes place at this time to enhance the experience of wintertime visitors.
A fuel firm has donated $5,000 to an ocean education programme for youngsters run by the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. Sol Petroleum Bermuda handed the cash to the Ocean Academy marine programme. Kaitlin Noyes, the director of Ocean Academy, said: “The suite of progressive educational opportunities offered is made possible by private support, and we are grateful for Sol Bermuda’s contribution.” The programme was designed to teach children about the island’s marine system through hands-on lessons and improve knowledge in science, technology, engineering and maths education — known as Stem.
An athlete struck down by a stroke a year ago is to take part in a grueling three-day sports event to celebrate his battle back to health. Bruce Sinclair, 45, will compete in the Bermuda Triangle Half Challenge, part of the Bermuda Marathon Weekend starting on Friday. The challenge, which will run over three days, includes a mile-long run on Front Street, a ten-kilometer walk, and a half-marathon. Mr Sinclair, a biology teacher at Saltus Grammar School, wants to do the challenge to prove that recovery is possible. He explained: “I wanted to show my kids that you can face adversity in life and overcome it. I also wanted to do it for other people who may have had an illness in their life and show them that if you put your mind to something, you can do it.” Mr Sinclair, from Warwick, is a keen runner and has competed in marathons during May 24 and Race Weekend. But his active lifestyle came to a halt when he suffered an ischemic stroke — a blockage in blood vessels running to the brain — at the end of January last year. He said: “I woke up and I felt a wave go down my right side. I lost vision in my right eye and I lost all feeling in my right side. I knew right away what had happened.” He spent almost two weeks in hospital before his sight and feeling came back. He spent another three months recovering at home before he was able to go back to work. He said: “My memory was so foggy that at one point I got lost in my own kitchen. I was thankful because I could still move, but the trauma caused complete numbness and lack of sensation.” He started running again in September as a way to give himself a “safe goal to train for”. He explained: “By the end of September when it started to cool I thought OK, let’s start pushing and see if we can get the mileage up a little higher, By the end of October, I thought ‘I think doing the half triangle will be our goal’.” Mr Sinclair has trained for the race by running every other day by himself and with the Mid Atlantic Athletic Club’s track team. Since he started training, other people who have suffered strokes have come to him for advice and support. He said: “I know a triathlete in Spain who suffered a stroke two weeks ago and my best friend knew of this woman and straight away he put her husband in contact with me. This couple contacted me and there were just all these questions they had, like ‘why? How? What’s next? What about this test?’.” Mr Sinclair said that the key to coping with a stroke and other illnesses is patience and time. He added: “I don’t by any means profess to be the first person to do something like this, but I think that if I can set an example for my kids or some of my friends or colleagues then maybe they can say ‘OK, maybe we can fight through something that is hard. It’s not a superhuman thing that I’m doing, it’s just something that you have to try hard to do.”
A ground-breaking ceremony for an $11 million technology centre has been celebrated at Bermuda High School. Linda Parker, head of the school, said the start of construction was an important milestone. Ms Parker added: “This ambitious project was envisioned in response to the local and global need for more girls to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics, in combination with the arts. We have a responsibility to prepare our students for the jobs of today, as well as to anticipate future trends.” The school’s new Innovation Centre will prepare pupils for careers in science and technology-based subjects. The 15,000 sq ft centre, which will be built on part of a car park behind the school on land donated by the Bank of Butterfield, will include five new science labs, two computer science labs, and a leadership centre for girls. The centre was designed by architectural firm Linberg & Simmons in collaboration with education architects from Gensler in the United States. The Butterfield building next door will be renovated to house the new Arts Wing. Construction firm BCM McAlpine will oversee building work, which is scheduled to be completed by autumn 2020. Ms Parker said Grosvenor Tucker, the school’s founder, would have supported the construction of a “cathedral of learning”. She added: “Were she alive today, I believe that she would find this new direction entirely in keeping with her vision to provide the very best education for girls.” Catherine Hollingsworth, deputy head of the school, said that the school had done well to prepare pupils for higher education and the workforce. But she added: “Times are changing.” Ms Hollingsworth said the centre would encourage collaboration and communication skills in pupils. She added: “They are the students that we are going to be able to develop much better with our new building.” Ms Hollingsworth said the centre was designed to be “the heart of the school”. Mariette Savoie, school board chairwoman, said the groundbreaking was a “very special moment” for the school. She said that $10.7 million had already been raised to pay for the new building. Ms Savoie told donors: “Your gifts allow BHS to keep alive its promise to help bring the very best education for girls in Bermuda.” Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said the new building was an example of “what can be achieved when the community and private sector works with education to achieve a goal on behalf of our children”. He added: “I would very much like to see more of these types of partnerships with education across the island.” Mr Rabain said that technology was an important part of education. He added that technical subjects were male-dominated, but insisted “that trend is rapidly changing”. Mr Rabain said: “Young girls across the island are showing their interest in the field and taking their place in these types of industries. For this, I am extremely happy.”
A British attempt to force overseas territories to produce public registers of beneficial company ownership has sparked a war of words in the UK’s House of Commons. Dame Margaret Hodge, a Labour MP who helped to lead a cross-party alliance of MPs that won a promise from the Conservative government that it would introduce an order to enforce the requirement, claimed the lists were expected to be in place by 2020. But that has been delayed by three years. Dame Margaret spoke out after Lord Ahmad, the UK minister responsible for overseas territories, told a foreign affairs committee hearing last month that any required territory without a public register by next year, would be issued with an Order in Council instructing it to have such a list in operation by 2023. The Guardian newspaper reported that Dame Margaret said: “This new timetable is a sleight of hand and an attempt to ignore the clear will of Parliament. It was clear not that that order in council should be introduced in 2020, but the public register. We will have to consider what steps are taken to restore what was intended.” Chris Bryant, a Labour member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, added: “This timetable is not what Parliament thought they were getting when they discussed this. The Government has dragged its heels on this issue and this seems yet another unjustified delay. It’s as if the Government has become the department for procrastination.” Bermuda has resisted calls for a public register of beneficial ownership and David Burt, the Premier, earlier said the Government’s position was that the island would implement such a list “when it is a global standard”. The island has maintained a register of beneficial ownership — available to authorities in other countries on request — for decades but it is not open to the public. At a Foreign Affairs oral evidence session last month, Lord Ahmad said it was up to the UK Government to make an Order in Council but explained there were different constitutional arrangements across the Overseas Territories. He added: “For example, in Bermuda there is a legal issue there whereby ... the Order In Council may well have to be instituted by the territory itself.” Lord Ahmad admitted it was unlikely public registers of beneficial ownership would become the global standard within four years. He told the session: “In terms of, from a global perspective, whether there will be a level playing field by 2023, as I said, that is an objective — an ambition we’ve set ourselves. But, in my personal view, whether we will see every territory across the world having public registers by 2023, I don’t think that will be the case.”
The island’s new winter bus schedule has hit another bump in the road. Fresh talks were held yesterday amid staff concerns about the off-season schedule, which was due to be introduced on Monday. That deadline was pushed back two weeks to January 21, but has again been postponed. Glenn Simmons, of the Bermuda Industrial Union, told The Royal Gazette: “We are not totally resolved, but we are still in the works trying to work things out.” Mr Simmons declined to discuss the specific concerns of unionized Department of Public Transportation staff. He added: “We are trying our best to come up with something very viable for the general public of Bermuda and our tourists, our seniors and everybody as a working class, working with the DPT team as well as the minister of transport.” Mr Simmons was speaking after he met Zane DeSilva, the transport minister, Roger Todd, director of the DPT, and ministry officials at the BIU headquarters in Hamilton. Mr DeSilva hoped any problems with the new timings, which took 17 years to agree, would be resolved. He added: “I appreciate the work that Roger Todd has put in along with the union and I’m hopeful that we will come to a happy space.” The meeting came one week after the implementation of the schedule was delayed. Mr Todd said at the time it had been pushed back to “ensure that all relevant stakeholders and the general public were well informed of the scheduling change”. The new schedule was announced in the middle of last month, when it was claimed it would cut down on cancellations because of bus shortages. Chris Furbert, the president of the BIU, said it was a “great day”. He added: “It’s taken 17 years for us to devise the new bus schedule.” The present schedule, which has been in place since 2001, has suffered cancellations for months because of the island’s ageing and unreliable fleet of buses. The new winter schedule will run for one year. Mr Todd said when the new timetable was launched that the schedule’s performance would “be assessed and adjustments made as required”. A government spokeswoman said last night that the DPT and BIU were trying to address concerns about bus rosters that included multiple night shifts. She explained: “Meetings held today between the DPT and BIU led to a better understanding of the night work issues — an area of much uncertainty and contention in the past. While the effective date for the bus schedule is no longer January 21, 2019, the 2019 winter bus schedule will remain unchanged. More information regarding a new effective date will be forthcoming.” She added: “The DPT and the BIU look forward to making necessary changes as soon as possible that will position the bus service to better serve the public.” The spokeswoman said the timetable could be viewed online gov.bm/bus.
A third man has been arrested in connection with a gun murder outside a Christmas party at a sports club. Police said yesterday that the 23-year-old had been taken into custody and appealed for more witnesses to come forward. A police spokesman added: “The investigating team continues to encourage anyone with information regarding this matter to contact them or provide the information confidentially.” Ronniko Burchall, 30, from Pembroke, was shot as he stood outside St David’s County Cricket Club at about 1.40am on December 29. He died in hospital the next day. Police said later that a 24-year-old man and a 31-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the incident. The police spokesman added: “Officers are particularly keen to speak with anyone who may have information on the suspects, their movements, or the firearm used. Detectives are still tracing the movements of the suspects and analyzing evidence that has come into their possession through the course of the investigation.” The Serious Crime Unit can be contacted at 247-1739, or information can be provided through the independent and confidential Crime Stoppers hotline 800-8477.
Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, has announced the promotion of sergeants Dennis Astwood, Karema Flood, Darren Glasford, Shakisha Minors, Ronald Taylor and Kenten Trott to the post of Inspector. All six were promoted by Mr Corbishley before family, friends and colleagues, at a ceremony held in the Police Recreation Club hall at Prospect in Devonshire yesterday. Inspector Dennis Astwood is married with two children, amassed 31 years’ service in the Bermuda Police Service, having joined in 1987 as a police cadet, and appointed as a police constable in 1989. He served in many ways and won numerous awards. Inspector Karema Flood began her career with the Bermuda Reserve Police in 2000, serving for a year. She became a full time police officer in 2001 and has had the privilege of being posted within various departments. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Global Business Management in addition to certificates in leadership and management. She is the recipient of numerous Merit Awards and Letters of Good Work. Throughout her career she has completed several training courses locally and overseas. Inspector Darren Glasford, commonly known as “Shakee” has 32 years of policing experience. He joined the Bermuda Police Service in 1987 as a cadet and became a Police Constable in 1989. Inspector Shakisha Minors commenced her career with the Bermuda Police Service in 2000 as a cadet. She became a Police Constable in 2001 and progressed her diverse career working in Eastern, Western and Central Uniform, Police Support Unit, Narcotics Unit, Gang Targeting Unit, Training School and Community Action Team. Inspector Minors’ new posting is second in command of the eastern parishes (Community Policing Division). Inspector Ronald Taylor joined the Bermuda Police Service in 2000, having previously served in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service for 11 years. He is married to a Bermudian and has three children. He has 30 years of policing experience. Inspector Kenten Trott has been a police officer for 11 years, joining in April 2007. He was on recruit foundation course 69 and graduated receiving the Baton of Honour and Academic Award.
A single mom who worked two jobs to pay for her education was Called to the Bermuda Bar yesterday. Now she has rejoined the law firm where she once worked as a secretary as a barrister. Keeka Simons, 34, fought back tears at Supreme Court as she thanked friends and family who supported her as she battled to qualify as a lawyer. She said: “If there’s anything I learnt from this, I have learnt that life doesn’t always go according to plan. But she added: “I learnt that delay is not denial.” Ms Simons wanted to study law in the US, where she lived at the time, but was forced to put her legal aspirations on hold and return to Bermuda with her 11-year-old son, Jaden. She started work as a secretary at Hamilton legal firm Trott & Duncan in 2009 but spent her evenings working at MarketPlace’s A1 store in Smith’s to make ends meet. Ms Simons said: “It was just the way it was and with the little I had, I did what I could.” She later enrolled in a London-based online programme to earn her law degree. Ms Simons told the court she worked at Trott & Duncan until 5.15pm, at A1 from 6pm to 10pm then studied as late as 4am before her day started all over again. She said: “This was my routine for many years.” Ms Simons added: “I’m sure there are a few people who can attest that I either cried before every exam or had a full-blown panic attack.” But her hard work paid off and she earned a University of Law in London degree in 2016 after she passed all her exams at the first attempt. Ms Simons was able afterwards — with the support of a $10,000 scholarship from Trott & Duncan and a bursary from MarketPlace — to continue her studies overseas. She earned her master’s degree in law in 2017 from the College of Law, also in London, and completed her pupilage. Ms Simons said her parents’ work ethic had helped inspire her dedication and her sisters had been a constant support. And she told Jaden: “You are by far the most brilliant and understanding son a mother could ask for.” Delroy Duncan, director and head of litigation at Trott & Duncan, said Ms Simons embodied Bermudian grit. “She has travelled what is nothing short of a journey and, to her credit, not all would have finished it. She has really done well. I’m not sure many could walk in her shoes — I doubt I could.” Mr Duncan also praised Ms Simons for her loyalty and single-mindedness and added that he was happy to have her join his firm. Karen Williams-Smith, director and head of family law at Trott & Duncan, said Ms Simons was determined and willing to ask for help when needed. She said: “She felt sometimes the world was against her, but I tried to encourage her along the way. She managed to study while working, using all the lawyers in the litigation department as her personal tutors.” Chief Justice Narinder Hargun welcomed Ms Simons to the Bar and congratulated her on her achievement. He said: “Certainly you have worked very hard and your story is genuinely touching.”
More than 20 people have kicked up a stink about a controversial dairy farm accused of polluting the atmosphere with bad smells and flies in less than a month. But one of the farm’s owners insisted that “vast improvements” had been made. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health said that 76 complaints had been logged against Green Land Dairy Farm in Smith’s since the middle of last month. She added that the complaints — which related to the smell and flies from the Store Hill farm — were filed by 24 neighbours. The spokeswoman was speaking after the Government issued a reminder this week that complaints about the farm from neighbours should be made online. She said that the notice was issued after “persistent reports” about the smell of the property “which neighbours say interferes with use of their properties”. The spokeswoman added: “Meetings are ongoing with the farmers and the neighbours.” Local resident John-Paul Doughty said that he had logged “approximately six” complaints since December 15. He said they were sparked by “the smell of sewage pertaining to animal waste and an incredible numbers of flies”. Mr Doughty added: “It has been going on for close to two years now with no improvement.” He placed blame for the smell on the property’s open manure pit. Mr Doughty added: “I would like to see enforcement action and an inquest into why planning permission was granted for what is essentially an open sewer.” Emma Leitch has made two complaints in the last two weeks. Ms Leitch said that she filed both reports due to an “overwhelming and persistent stench” as her children played in the backyard. She added: “It made me so nauseated that I had to bring the kids inside and close all my windows and doors. I could not stand to be outside in that smell.” Ms Leitch agreed with Mr Doughty that the situation had not improved. She added: “The pit of manure still exists. And while the smell isn’t constant, you know that a shift in the wind could bring it at any time, which makes it hard to plan outdoor events at our home.” Ms Leitch said the online complaints form was a “good start” by Government. But she added that residents needed to be updated on what steps the Government and the farm were taking to tackle complaints. Ms Leitch said: “Ultimately, both the residents and the farmers deserve guidelines on what level of nuisance is and is not acceptable. Families’ rental incomes and housing values are being impacted because of decisions the new dairy owners made and they shouldn’t bear the costs of someone else’s business.” Lidia and Valter Medeiros, who have owned the farm since 2014, have faced pressure to reduce the smell of manure. Ms Medeiros said yesterday that “vast improvements” had been made. She added that the farm had been using enzymes since December 2017 that had “been doing a very effective job”. Ms Medeiros said: “The intense ammonia odor has gone and now only a farm smell is experienced.” She said that the manure pit was emptied “often”. Ms Medeiros added: “We invite anyone to come to the farm, walk around the building and pit and I will guarantee you there is very little odor, no flies, and I haven’t seen one rat on my farm yet.” She said that the farm had a “great relationship” with some of its closest neighbours. “None of the consistent complainers have come to visit the farm to see and smell for themselves. There are a select few neighbours, and we know who they are, that are just continuing to exaggerate the smell until we are driven out.” She said that the Government should be “ashamed” at the way it had handled the controversy. “They should be helping the farmers on this island — instead they are acting on hearsay and online forms that can be manipulated to suit the individual’s agenda.” She said that the Government had approached the farm with two ideas for the pit — but that neither was suitable. Ms Medeiros added: “We can invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a system for the pit but the farm will always smell — therefore neighbours will continue to complain.”
• Residents with concerns about the farm can submit a report using the Farm Nuisance Report Form on the Government’s website at gov.bm/public-health-nuisances-pollution-and-outbreak-control- programme.
A 74-year-old woman who died after a fire in her apartment was yesterday identified by police as Cheryl Eve. Ms Eve, the sister of LaVerne Furbert, a trade union official and former Progressive Labour Party senator, was found unconscious by a relative at her home in Verdmont Valley Drive, Smith’s, at about 5pm on Thursday. Emergency services personnel tried to resuscitate Ms Eve at the scene and in an ambulance on the way to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, but she was pronounced dead by doctors after her arrival at the hospital. A police spokesman said: “The scene has been processed by the relevant police personnel, and inquiries continue regarding the cause of Ms Eve’s death as well as the cause of the fire.”
A show tonight to highlight the talent of a Bermudian actress who has performed in London’s West End has been postponed until March. Candace Furbert was due to have performed at the Ruth Seaton James Centre at CedarBridge Academy in Memoirs of the Entertainer tonight and tomorrow but was forced to call off because of illness. Ms Furbert said that the shows would take place on March 29 and 30 instead. She added that tickets already bought will be honoured for the later dates. For more information or to change ticket dates, e-mail email@example.com. Tickets for the shows are available at bdatix.bm
A container ship bound for Mexico is expected to be met off the coast of Bermuda tonight after a crew member suffered a suspected broken ankle. The Polar Mexico was traveling from Bremerhaven, Germany, to the port city of Altamira when the 46-year-old was injured. A Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre duty officer said a call was received at about 7.30am yesterday when the vessel was 800 miles east of the island. It was thought the Polish crewman had suffered a compound fracture to his left ankle. The ship was expected to be met by the pilot boat St David off the east end of the island at 10pm this evening so the injured man can be brought on shore. He will be taken by ambulance to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
Bermuda is confident it has done what is required to address the European Union’s concerns about the economic substance of companies registered on the island. The Government of Bermuda has also revealed an incentive programme to make the island more attractive to companies that might be impacted by the new law’s requirements. The stakes are high. Bermuda has many thousands of registered companies, and those that have little or no actual presence on the island must now change that situation or face penalties, as prescribed in the Economic Substance Act 2018, passed by Parliament last month. The worry that some of the thousands of companies likely to be affected might go elsewhere, causing economic loss for the island, is being addressed with proposed incentives that involve work permit policy and payroll tax concessions. The aim of these is to encourage companies to increase their economic presence here and create jobs and opportunities. But when does a company have economic substance in Bermuda, and when does it not? The Government believes it has the answer, even if the requirements in the Act appear indistinct. Time will tell if the EU agrees, and its answer may come as soon as next month. To comply with Bermuda’s economic substance requirements, a company must be managed and directed from Bermuda and its core income-generating activities be undertaken here. Also, it should have “adequate” premises and employees on the island, and “adequate” expenditure incurred in Bermuda in relation to its activity. What constitutes “adequate” will be assessed by the Registrar of Companies. The Royal Gazette asked why there were no specific metrics included in the Act. Curtis Dickinson, Minister of Finance, said: “Companies based here will be required to make submissions to the Registrar of Companies. An assessment will be made based on the terms of their substance, based on the data they provide to us around revenue, employees, activity generated domestically. Then we will evaluate whether economic substance criteria has been met.” When asked if there will be defined economic substance metrics in the future, he said: “Eventually there will be. This has been a bit of a moving target for us and other jurisdictions with respect for the EU’s criteria for what it is they wanted. The EU will transmit to us whether something is substantive or not, and we will make the necessary adjustments.” The economic substance situation stems from efforts by the EU to curb harmful tax practices, and to secure co-operation from jurisdictions with low or zero rates of corporate income. Bermuda is one of 13 countries and jurisdictions identified by the EU in 2017 as having tax regimes that facilitate offshore structures which attract profits without real economic activity. The island committed to addressing the concerns relating to economic substance by the end of last year. Passing the Economic Substance Act was a move aimed at keeping Bermuda off any EU list of non-compliant jurisdictions. Being on such a list would have negative implications for the island’s status as an international business centre. The Government has high hopes that the Act will find favour in Brussels. If it does not, it is not immediately clear what comes next. The Royal Gazette asked what would happen if the EU said the Act is not acceptable. “We haven’t contemplated that. We think we have done what we are required to do to meet the standard,” Mr Dickinson said. Among the other countries and jurisdictions facing the same economic substance issues, and committed to addressing EU’s concerns, are Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Jersey and the Isle of Man. Mr Dickinson said Bermuda is trying to get its hands on the economic substance legislation the other jurisdictions have created. He added: “We have worked with a broad group of industry players and have been guided by some of their insights. But we expect that at some point once the EU makes its decision everyone’s information will be available to us.” When questioned on what resources the Government will need in place to deal with the additional requirements of the Act, he said: “We will need to have incremental resources deployed in the Registrar of Companies. This is all very new and we are trying to come to terms with what additional complement of people we will require. But at a minimum it will require some additional people at the Registrar of Companies.” Mr Dickinson also said some work has been done on best-case and worst-case scenarios for Bermuda, in relation to the potential impact of the economic substance requirements on companies registered here. “There has been some work done on that, but I don’t feel comfortable disclosing that information,” he said. “We won’t know until people make decisions about whether they want to establish substance here or not.” Explaining the proposed incentives to keep companies affected by the Act in Bermuda, and encourage job creation, Mr Dickinson said the new EU Economic Incentive Programme includes the New Business Work Permit Policy, which is already in place, together with payroll tax relief. “The Government’s plan encourages and rewards investment in Bermuda’s economy, encourages businesses already here to expand and stay, and our tax incentives will encourage job creation.” He also said: “The Government understands that the two things foremost in the minds of most Bermudians are jobs and the protection of Bermudian opportunities within our own country. Closed or restricted job categories such as a front office receptionist, or which are entry level, graduate or trainee positions, will remain closed and continue to be protected, giving Bermudians the opportunity to earn employment in the new jobs created by these companies.” Mr Dickinson said many Bermudians had lost such positions during the recession, and the Government “is committed to working with these companies to ensure that unemployed and underemployed Bermudians will be ready and able to fill these posts”. The minister spoke at a press conference where he was joined by a number of the island’s business leaders. The New Business Work Permit Policy has been in place since 2012, and allows an exempted company that is new to Bermuda to receive automatic approval of work permits for the first six months of obtaining its first new business permit. There is eligibility criteria, such as a business must be directed and managed from Bermuda, and it must show that it has adequate personnel and expenditure undertaken on island “thus creating jobs and opportunities within new or existing businesses offering support services”. Mr Dickinson said the policy will include exempted companies already registered in Bermuda without employees and any new exempted company that decides to set-up in Bermuda with employees. Businesses that need more than ten work permits within the first six months of operation will be required to present their Bermuda office staffing plan to the minister. In May, the Government granted medium and large companies a three-year employer payroll tax concession for additional jobs created in Bermuda. Mr Dickinson said: “With respect to this programme, the concession will last for two years and extend to companies that create or transfer jobs to Bermuda.” He thanked a number of organisations for their support, including the Bermuda Monetary Authority, the Association of Bermuda International Companies, Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, and government technical officers, and added: “Our goal is to have more companies and more jobs based in Bermuda, providing more employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for Bermudians.”
The island’s gambling regulator has refused to release details about its finances and played its cards close to its chest on other documents in its possession. The Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission stonewalled a request from The Royal Gazette to release details of its income and expenditure for the last two financial years under the Public Access to Information Act. The taxpayer-funded commission rejected the request and claimed records of its finances were exempted from disclosure because they contained information “given by a third party in confidence, on the understanding that it would be treated as confidential”. The BCGC also refused to give details of how much it spent on a successful legal bid to silence Richard Schuetz, the commission’s former executive director, after he resigned. Mr Schuetz said at the time he feared that Bermuda would “prove incapable of keeping people with questionable backgrounds and behaviors away from” the island’s gambling industry. The decision to withhold the information requested, appealed to Cheryl-Ann Mapp, the BCGC chairwoman, means taxpayers have no up-to-date information on how the commission has spent the millions of dollars it has been given over four years. The regulator, whose office is on Church Street, has been given at least $5.4 million of taxpayers’ cash since it was set up in 2015. The BCGC was handed $1.3 million in its first year and a further $2.5 million in the 2016-17 financial year. Nothing was budgeted for 2017-18, but soon after winning power in the July 2017 General Election, David Burt, the Premier, revealed that the public would have to cough up $1.6 million in operational expenses that year. The commission was again allocated no money in this year’s Budget. Questions to the Government about whether it is likely to receive public funding in 2018-19 were not answered by press time. The BCGC is expected, in time, to be funded entirely by fees for casino licences, as operators will pay $600,000 to apply and then $1.4 million if they are awarded a provisional licence. Operators who make it through to the final stage will have to pay a further $1 million casino licence issue fee. Several hotels have made an initial application, but only one — Hamilton Princess & Beach Club — is known to have been granted a provisional licence, and critics have questioned why the island’s fledgling casino industry is taking so long to get up and running. Ms Mapp replaced former chairman Alan Dunch in November 2017. Mr Dunch resigned after the Government tabled legislation to oust him and place BCGC under ministerial control. The commission has had no executive director since Mr Schuetz left the island in December 2017 and his six-figure salary post is understood to have been advertised at least three times since then. The Royal Gazette’s Pati request asked for:
• Details of the commission’s income and expenditure for 2017-18 and 2018-19 to date
• The total amount spent on legal fees for the civil case against Mr Schuetz
• Any and all memorandums of understanding that the commission has or has had with outside agencies and details of any that have been terminated
• Details of any agreements the commission has with the United Kingdom Gambling Commission
• The consultancy agreement BCGC has with George Rover, the former deputy director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement
The commission’s information officer said details of spending on the civil action against Mr Schuetz were exempted from disclosure because they could affect the commercial interests “of any person to whom the information relates” and could prejudice contract or other negotiations. The commission was represented by Joseph Giret QC, then with Hamilton-based legal firm Wakefield Quin. The BCGC official said the record with the amount spent on legal fees was given to the BCGC by the law firm “in confidence on the understanding that it would be treated as confidential”. The official added that all the other records requested were exempted as they contained information given to the commission in confidence. Ms Mapp has until January 22 to decide if BCGC was right to withhold the records. If she upholds the refusal, The Royal Gazette can apply to the island’s independent information commissioner for a review. The BCGC has also rejected earlier requests from The Royal Gazette for the minutes of its meetings and communications it had with the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee. It also failed to disclose records it held about Bermuda’s betting shops and insisted the information formed part of deliberations involving the commission and the Government. The BCGC, under the Casino Gaming Act 2014, has to submit its audited financial statements and accounts to the Government every year so they can be tabled in Parliament. A spokesman for the House of Assembly said last night that it appeared that no BCGC financial statements had been tabled. A spokeswoman for Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, who is responsible for the gambling industry, said: “The BCGC, like all other public authorities, are required to present their financial statements to the legislature after the statements have been audited. It would be inappropriate for the ministry to comment on a specific public access to information request as this matter would be addressed in accordance with the provisions of the Public Access to Information Act.”
More than 60 overseas competitors have signed up for the Bermuda Triple Challenge, the organisers said yesterday. Jason Correia, the co-director of the event, said more than 100 visitors are expected to participate in the obstacle course race, to be held in March. Mr Correia said, “We got close to 100 visitors in 2018 and are hopeful we will surpass 100 in 2019.” He said a partnership with Mud Run Guide, the leading media outlet in the obstacles course racing “is evolving this unique grassroots, local charity event into one of, if not the most, talked-about international race within the obstacle course racing community”. He added that extra overseas competitors would also mean “more charitable dollars for Bermuda and more heads in our hotels’ beds”. Individuals and teams of two to five people will navigate obstacles ranging from scaling a bus and race round the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s assault course. The competitors will also have to negotiate a 300ft water-slide and a zip line in a bid to win cash prizes for their chosen charities. Organisers said all the obstacles were optional and that participants could opt for burpees as an alternative penalty exercise instead. A unique scoring system which combines finishing times and charitable funds raised will determine the Bermuda Triple Challenge’s $1,000 top prize winner. James Holloway, race co-director said: “The unique scoring format allows for anyone to win, not just the fastest teams or individuals. The more charitable funds raised the better positioned participants are to win,” Mr Holloway said. “Also, each $500 increment of raised funds earns up to three obstacle wild cards which can be used by participants to skip, without penalty, any non-mandatory obstacle, including its queue, over the weekend, saving valuable time on route.” Also for the first time, the corporate division’s fight to determine which companies can field the fittest team will see the winning firm choose which charity will get its $1,000 prize. The Bermuda Triple Challenge kicks off at 7pm on March 15 with the Argus Urban Foot Race through St George, followed by a community block party with DJ Chubb and a bouncy castle. The Royal Bermuda Regiment will host the Sun Life International Island Challenge on Saturday morning, with a family-style barbecue organized by the regiment and Butterfield & Vallis afterwards. Sunday’s finale will see participants in an all-out assault on The Royal Naval Dockyard and Casemates Prison in the Chubb Royal Challenge, followed by the Buzz/Butterfield & Vallis appreciation brunch. All the funds raised will be donated to six Bermudian youth-based charities: WindReach, The Centre Against Abuse, The Reading Clinic, The Bermuda Foundation for Insurance Studies, Tomorrow’s Voices and Raleigh Bermuda. A total of $333,000 has been raised for Bermudian charities in the eight years the challenge has been run. Mr Holloway said this year’s event would not have been possible without its regular sponsors. He said: “All this would not be possible without our returning sponsors, so thank you very much Argus, Chubb, Sun Life Financial International, Butterfield & Vallis, Buzz, the Royal Bermuda Regiment and the Bermuda Tourism Authority.” To register for the event, which will run from March 15 to 17, visit bdatriplechallenge.com.
A top hotel has boosted the island’s fishing industry with a massive increase in the amount of Bermudian-caught seafood used in its dishes. The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club bought 10,802lbs of seafood from island fishermen last year, up more than 4,000lbs on the 6,634lbs logged for 2017. The hotel increased its investment in locally grown produce and ingredients and in the fishing industry last year by increasing its spending on Bermudian products by 108 per cent. Tim Morrison, general manager of the hotel, said: “We are pleased to be able to invest in local fishermen and farmers who provide us with the freshest and most delicious ingredients for our restaurants. With the finest ingredients, we can create incredible memories and Bermudian experiences for our guests.” A spokeswoman for the hotel said the increase in the use of island-sourced produce underlined its commitment to support Bermudian businesses. The Hamilton Princess also bought a wide range of domestic farm items such as honey, potatoes, lettuce and basil. The hotel also increased its support for the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences’ bid to reduce the number of invasive lionfish in Bermuda’s waters by buying more fish from the organisation. The lionfish were used as a part of a special menu throughout the year. Fishermen said they were happy with the support they received from the hotel. Stephen Cabral added: “We’re thrilled to be strengthening our ties to Hamilton Princess & Beach Club and its restaurants. The hotel has an incredible reputation for delivering fresh and delicious food and we are pleased that some of this is down to the freshness of the fish that we deliver right to Marcus’ dock.” Scott Tucker, founder of Bermy Fresh, said: “We are proud to supply Hamilton Princess & Beach Club with shoots, sprouts and herbs for their incredible chefs to use at their restaurants. The hotel recognizes that the best food comes from the freshest ingredients and we appreciate their commitment to local producers.” Local farmers that benefited from increased spending include Bee Lovers’ Beekeeping, Bermy Fresh, J&J Produce, Tucker’s Farm and Wadson’s Farm.
Calvin Lynch, a daredevil TV cameraman with a passion for speedboats, has died. Mr Lynch was 70. Rick Richardson, the former chief executive at the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, said Mr Lynch was a meticulous photojournalist who “liked to live dangerously on weekends”. He said: “Cal was there when I was in charge of news; his concentration was news and sports and he brought a great dedication, energy and commitment to the job every day. He was a total team player, who literally bounced in to work. Cal was fun, and brought that camaraderie and atmosphere to the job.” Mr Richardson said Mr Lynch loved powerboats and motocross as well as racing catamarans. The veteran newsman added: “He used to go out in these huge catamarans that would get up to amazing speed on Ferry Reach and rise virtually out of the water.” The racing community was stunned in August 1981 when Ken Dear, one of the island’s top racers, lost his life in a 100mph catamaran accident on Ferry Reach in St George’s. Mr Richardson said a few years later, colleagues had feared the worst when Mr Lynch was injured in a similar crash on the same stretch of water. He explained: “Cal was thrown out of a catamaran that flipped and went airborne. Many of us thought that was the end of him.” Mr Richardson said he rushed to the hospital “expecting a downtrodden Cal, and what I found was a smiling Cal concerned about his family”. He said Mr Lynch was “devoted” to his wife, Angelia Onley-Lynch, as well as their children Calais and Cylah. Mr Richardson added: “He was an amazing, bubbly man, but if he felt people weren’t measuring up, he let you know.” Mr Lynch’s TV camera career spanned decades, from the 1970s to the 2000s. Yesterday, past and present colleagues at Bermuda Broadcasting said Mr Lynch was a pleasure to work with. Darlene Livingston, Bermuda Broadcasting’s morning news anchor, said Mr Lynch “embraced his job and enjoyed the outdoor side of the work”. She said: “He was a water sports guy who competed in powerboat racing and the around-the-island races even after he left broadcasting; he later started a new career at Marine and Ports. We knew that he had some health challenges. We were very saddened to learn of his passing.” Jannell Ford, a veteran broadcaster, added Mr Lynch was a “news gatherer and cameraman who took immense pride in his work, which was always to a very high standard”. Ms Ford said: “He also expected those working with him to perform to a high standard. He was easygoing and always had a big smile on his face.” She added that Mr Lynch “enjoyed mentoring those of us just entering the industry. He was a joy to work with and will be missed.” Al Seymour, a former broadcaster, said Mr Lynch had been “remarkable in that he never left his smile at home and was full of enthusiasm, no matter the assignment. Apart from being a good cameraman, he was also skilled in editing pieces for the evening news. There were times we would get an interview where someone would talk as though they were the only item on the news that night. Cal would look at me afterwards with that smile and say, ‘don’t worry; I know what to do’. I never had to say another word. He was more than a good cameraman. He was a super guy who will be missed and remembered for a great smile that the world needs more of these days.”
A woman died after a house fire yesterday, police confirmed last night. The 74-year-old victim was rushed to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital after she was found unconscious, but later pronounced dead. Sergeant Allan Wilkinson of the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Services said: “There wasn’t a lot of extensive fire damage, although there was a lot of smoke damage. It appears to have started in the kitchen ... it was pretty smoke-logged throughout the apartment.” The fire happened at an apartment on Verdmont Valley Drive in Smith’s about 5pm. Residents in the area said they were shocked to see fire service crews at the house as they returned home from work. One said: “I had no idea what was going on.” A woman said she heard sirens, but was not aware the blaze was on her own street. She added: “That’s awful; this is a quiet neighborhood, very family orientated.” A police spokesman said: “An investigation regarding the circumstances of this sudden death, as well as the cause of the fire is under way by the Bermuda Police Service and the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Services.” He said no further information about the woman would be provided until next of kin were notified. A BFRS spokesman said medics and firefighters had given first aid before the woman was taken to hospital. He added: “Fire personnel also ventilated the heavily smoke logged apartment.”
Bermuda’s national security minister hit back at allegations of insensitivity after he released gun crime statistics just days after the island’s latest murder. Wayne Caines said that “nothing could be farther from the truth”. He added: “Any loss of life is significant and hurts our entire community.” Mr Caines was speaking in a response to Desmond Crockwell, chief editor of anti-violence magazine Visionz, who criticized the timing of the release of the figures. Mr Crockwell said the release was “a knee-jerk reaction and response” to a call from community activists the week before for a fresh approach to the battle against serious crime. Mr Crockwell also questioned the timing of the release just days after the gun murder of Ronniko Burchall, 30, on December 29. He said: “There was a young man who was just laid to rest. Is this something that they should be bragging about now? Will you take these stats to the young man’s family at this time? I think not.” Mr Caines said that had met Mr Burchall’s family last weekend. He added: “I shared the key statistics with them as well as other key pieces of information prior to the statistics and plan going public.” Mr Caines said that he released the figures because some community leaders had questioned the Government’s approach to the fight against gang culture “in light of the most recent upswing in violence. We released key elements of the plan which included some statistics.” Mr Crockwell also asked for more regular updates on the Government’s anti-gang work. Mr Caines said three ministerial statements and three press releases had been released in the last eight months which contained “significant updates”. Mr Caines added that ten public meetings had also been held, as well as a recent hour-long radio interview, and that a meeting had been held in July with several community leaders. He told Mr Crockwell: “We shared our plans, we provided updates and gave the areas for growth and areas that we need support and improvement. You were invited, but for reasons unclear to me, you did not attend.” Mr Crockwell said yesterday that he had met Mr Caines prior to the community leaders meeting and shared ideas for a youth talent show and a Day of Peace. He said that Mr Caines said that the ministry could not help with the suggestions, and added: “They still used our ideas.” He said that the community leaders meeting had left those who attended frustrated. Mr Crockwell added: “That is why there has not been another community leaders meeting since last July.” Mr Caines said that he appreciated Mr Crockwell’s work in the community. He added: “We value the role you are doing and want to work more closely with you and the other community activists to ensure our island is free from gang-and-gun-related violence.” Mr Caines said: “My door is always open to you.” The minister highlighted police statistics last weekend that showed gun crimes had dropped by almost 45 per cent in 2018. The statistics showed there were three firearms-related deaths or injuries last year, down from nine in 2017 and 14 in 2016. The Government said there were 27 incidents in 2018 which involved a firearm, were believed to involve a firearm, or where a firearm was recovered. The figure for 2017 was 49, and in 2016 it was 82. Serious assaults also showed a drop to 32 last year, down from 37 in 2017 and 46 in 2016. Arrests for violent crime totaled 24, up from 22 in each of the two previous years.
A digitized national identity scheme planned for Bermuda could be used by millions of people worldwide, a leader of the project said yesterday. Bruce Silcoff, the chief executive of blockchain technology firm Shyft, said three jurisdictions were keeping a close eye on the plan designed to protect island residents from attacks on their personal information. He added: “It’s proof of concept, it’s a test market because it’s small enough to run a pilot. This is a perfect opportunity for us to demonstrate the feasibility and the benefits of this new platform in an environment where it’s easier to have necessary legislation written quickly, where it’s conducive in terms of industry. We’re baking a cake and we have all the ingredients right here at our fingertips.” Mr Silcoff said Shyft had teamed up with Bermuda-based data management technology company Trunomi to deliver a scheme to give people control over their own records, which would mean only they could allow access to organisations like the Government and banks. Mr Silcoff, who was in Bermuda for talks with Stuart Lacey, the founder and CEO of Trunomi, said the island was well placed to be used as a testing ground for his firm’s “electronic highway”. He added: “It’s putting this whole country on an electronic ID platform, Perseid, which stands for personal e-ID. We’ve already made a $1 million investment into that project and that is a sandbox for the planet. We already have three other jurisdictions in this world watching what Bermuda is doing. When this goes live and we demonstrate that it works, those other jurisdictions will leverage Bermuda’s technology. Bermuda will be able to sell that expertise, we call it ‘jurisdiction as a service’. Bermuda will be able to license their model to the rest of the world, which is game-changing.” Mr Silcoff declined to identify the jurisdictions interested in the Bermuda venture, but said they represented 110 million people “across the world”. He hoped the optional identity scheme, to be introduced in partnership with the Government, will enter its first phase in Bermuda by autumn. Mr Silcoff said: “It is the opportunity to give people better control of their own data through a strong consent framework and privacy protection. For someone to be able to access your data, you will have to permission it, but the beauty is you could share that information more efficiently.” The Toronto-based entrepreneur said banks, hospitals, government agencies, telecoms and insurance companies could all be linked to the system, which would help people save time and money when using their services. He added it would give customers the power to transfer relevant information to chosen organisations, which would cut down on administration costs. Mr Silcoff said the Perseid system does not hold the information, but instead is a “highway” for entities to share information across businesses, industries and international borders. Mr Silcoff explained that “decentralising” data reduced the threat of it being accessed unlawfully. He added: “If you’re a bank with $1 billion, that’s attractive for a thief to go after. But if you have a dollar in a billion different banks, it’s not worth the trouble to go after it People will have better protection, better security and the individual who is the rightful owner of that data will control that data. That is critical to proper data management.” Mr Silcoff claimed it was “naive” for people to think their private information was not at risk and said 7.2 million records are compromised every day, with 69 per cent of those related to personal information. The businessman claimed Estonia and India had “failed” in their attempts to produce something similar to Perseid. Mr Silcoff said: “I cannot let this fail because this is too important, not only for Bermuda but for what it means to the rest of the world as well.” Mr Lacey highlighted that Perseid will operate on an “opt-in” basis when it is introduced. He added: “There is no sense of Big Brother, rather full trust and transparency as each and every individual maintains full control and ownership of their own identity and personal data.”
(Revision of item shown on January 7). The information commissioner has backed a decision by the Government to withhold legal advice related to the island’s multimillion-dollar airport redevelopment. Gitanjali Gutierrez, in a decision made public on Monday, ruled the Ministry of Finance was right to deny disclosure of the legal opinion on the grounds that it was legal advice and was protected by legal professional privilege. The ministry refused in April 2016 to release under public access to information a legal opinion from international law firm Bennett Jones on whether the Government needed a letter of entrustment from Britain to proceed with the airport deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation. It also refused to disclose some correspondence it had with the British Government about the airport contract. The Royal Gazette had argued that there was significant public interest in the release of records about the $250 million deal. But the information commissioner wrote that there was a “strong inbuilt public interest in protecting the openness in communications between client and lawyer”. Ms Gutierrez said she was “not convinced” that disclosure of the legal memorandum would “contribute to the public’s understanding of the decision-making process surrounding the redevelopment project”. She added: “Importantly, the Minister of Finance disclosed during the House of Assembly debate on November 28, 2014 that the legal advice concluded that no letter of entrustment was necessary. This information was not withheld from the public at the time of the controversy. The public is aware that the substance of the legal advice was not relied upon in practice as the Bermuda Government still proceeded to obtain an entrustment letter from the UK for good measure.” But Ms Gutierrez ordered the Ministry to release the date the legal advice was given by February 11 to “provide the public with a fuller understanding of the Government’s decision-making process with respect to these matters of public administration, without compromising the principles underlying … lawyer and client confidentiality”. The information commissioner also found that the Government was right to withhold a piece of correspondence with the British Government on the grounds that it constituted “international communications made in confidence. The information commissioner acknowledges that there is a significant interest in furthering the public’s understanding of a substantial investment of public money. The information commissioner is satisfied, however, that disclosure ... will not provide new information that meaningfully increases the public’s understanding of the project, nor would disclosure further public accountability.” The Ministry of Finance at first released just four records to The Royal Gazette in response to the Pati request, three of which were already in the public domain. The decision was appealed to the information commissioner’s office. The finance ministry released more records in October this year. Ms Gutierrez said the ICO’s investigation into the decision had resulted in the ministry releasing to her three further records which were relevant to the Pati request. The ministry has still to decide if those documents will be released and the information commissioner gave it until February 11 to do so. A government spokeswoman said that it had seen Ms Gutierrez’s decision and would “take the appropriate actions as required by the Pati Act”.
A young woman fined for doing unpaid work as a schoolgirl said last night she hoped the incident would inspire changes to immigration law. Ashley Aguiar, 22, who was born and brought up in Bermuda, said she was pleased the $5,000 fine for working without a permit was quashed by the Supreme Court. Ms Aguiar added: “I think this whole situation is an opportunity to talk about this issue. Something needs to come out of it because people are being put in this situation and I don’t think it’s fair.” The Chief Immigration Officer fined Ms Aguiar $5,000 in 2017 for working without a permit at Tranquil Hair and Beauty in the town of St George. But Chief Justice Narinder Hargun found that Ms Aguiar did not break the law because she was never paid and was there only to learn the trade. Ms Aguiar said her time at the salon began through an internship made possible by the Berkeley Institute. But an anonymous complaint was lodged against her on the basis that she did not have a work permit. She explained that her father has Permanent Resident’s Certificate B status, which meant she could not inherit Bermuda status from him. Ms Aguiar is considered a Portuguese citizen, even though she has only ever visited the country on holiday. Ms Aguiar said she was interviewed for “hours” after the complaint was made, but the fine was not imposed until more than two years later. She added: “Nothing was done for more than two years, then it just popped back up. “I had even called in the meantime to follow up on the situation. I wanted to put in my work-permit papers.” Ms Aguiar said she was stunned by the $5,000 fine, especially as her work experience was unpaid. She added her immigration position continued to be a problem, even after her victory in the courts. Ms Aguiar said: “I still cannot do anything. I can’t even leave Bermuda if I wanted to because even though I have put in for re-entry permission since I was 19 I haven’t received it.” The story of the successful appeal, published in The Royal Gazette on Tuesday, sparked fierce debate on the island’s immigration system. Many social-media commenters said they supported Ms Aguiar. Derek Jones wrote: “The law says if you’re not getting paid, it’s schooling. You can walk up to a chef and ask him or her to teach you how to cook. You can then take those skills and donate your time to go make dinner for a bunch of elderly people at Agape House to practise your skills. Afterward you can then go off to college and pick up a job working in a kitchen to help pay the school fees. All you have to do is ask someone if they’ll invest some time in you. Nothing illegal about that. Bermuda needs more internships and people willing to learn the skilled trades.” Kamathi Warner, however, objected to the court’s decision. He said: “What happens to persons who have Bermuda status by birth who can’t get these types of hookups or even any job? We’re lazy etc ... Stop usurping the role of the legislature, Supreme Court.” Mr Warner later started another Facebook post, which claimed he wanted advice on how to work in Portugal. Other posters pointed out that, as a British and EU citizen, he had an automatic right to live and work in Portugal without restriction and could acquire citizenship after just six years. Sarah Lorimer Turner said that people without Bermuda status needed a letter of permission to do unpaid volunteer work for charities. Linda Brown said that the policy was “dumb”. She added: “How about all the walkers/runners raising money for Bermudians? If we start asking everyone for a letter who will police all that? This is like PC-ness going too far.” Christopher Broadhurst said the story had highlighted a major immigration problem. He said: “The bigger tragedy is that Ashley was born and raised here and apparently still can’t call Bermuda her home — after 22 years.”
Opinion. By Michael Dunkley, the former Premier of Bermuda, an Opposition backbencher and the MP for Smith’s North (Constituency 10. After details of Cabinet Office contracts were published in the Official Gazette, it was revealed that the Progressive Labour Party government has spent at least $175,000 on an empty office in Washington. The Premier and his spokesmen tried to justify this waste of hard-earned taxpayer dollars with the excuse of pressing European Union matters and the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce review. A government must focus on all important matters and must not drop the ball on any. So if the Budget provides funding, and it is spent, the taxpayers expect a return on the money spent. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, and don’t make excuses after money is wasted. The One Bermuda Alliance made the decision, which was announced in the Budget debate of 2017-18, to close the Washington Office. During that debate, it was announced the budget would be cut from $407,000 to $206,000. The allocation would cover rental expense, insurance and utilities only until such time as the space was sublet. The process of subletting the space was to be undertaken by the Ministry of Public Works in consultation with the building agent in Washington. It was our view then that we should step away from a bricks-and-mortar presence to one of extending our professional lobbyist reach. An External Affairs Strategic Planning Committee was formed. Members of the committee were Derrick Binns, Paul Scope, Pamela Burrows, Cheryl Lister, Karla Lacey, Jeremy Cox, Ross Webber, Richard Winchell, Leila Madeiros and Travis Gilbert. This committee reported to Cabinet. In addition, we should continue to build the good relationship with the United States, visit Washington and meet key political leaders. This was done with success by the former OBA government. Any government has the right and ability to launch initiatives that they believe will benefit the people they serve. However, spending money with no return is not acceptable and something that the Loyal Opposition will fervently call out. Many people put their hope in the PLP at the last election, but sadly that hope is disappearing with the continued lack of transparency and accountability. To date, Bermuda has failed to progress under the PLP government. Ironically, the only jobs being created are as a result of OBA projects at the airport redevelopment and at the St Regis Hotel. Yet we see spending on an empty office in Washington, a qualified audit in the first year, an increased Cabinet, with two ministers having seemingly little responsibility but a nice pay-cheque, and ministers with a growing number of paid personal consultants. This is not putting Bermudians first. Finally, people should note the inappropriate and false political statement by a government spokeswoman who served both the OBA and PLP governments: “From October 2015 until the change of government in 2017, it should be reminded that in our major trading partner we essentially had no representation whatsoever when faced with a new administration and tax reform.” It goes on to say “the office was shut down with no plan ...” Government spokesmen should never allow a premier or minister to have them deliver a political statement about a former administration. Ministers should do it themselves and not hide inappropriately behind a civil servant. The OBA continued to strengthen our good relationship with the US by having high-level meetings with key political leaders such as Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, Cory Booker, G.K. Butterfield, Steve Scalise, Jim Clyburn and the Congressional Black Caucus, among others. In addition, with the input and support of international business, we had communication with the White House in the early stages of the new administration when tax reform was a hot topic. Bermuda is in a better position because of this work. There are 175,000 other ways we could have spent the money allocated to an empty office. No excuse can justify the failure to be accountable for hard-earned taxpayer dollars. This is not putting Bermudians first."
The organisers of the 2019 AXA End-to-End event have today announced the charities that will benefit from money raised by the event this year — WindReach, Age Concern, Friends of Hospice and Raleigh Bermuda. Anne Mello, End-to-End Board chair, said: “It is always a near impossible job to decide which charities we support each year as every charity is deserving of help. However, we felt that these four charities help a very broad cross-section of people in Bermuda meaning the money that is raised has a large impact on society.” She added: “The End-to-End is now in its 32nd year and in that time we have raised more than $5.65m. We cannot thank people enough for their support which has done so much for charities across the Island.” WindReach Executive Director Chrissie Kempe said she was overjoyed to be a chosen charity, adding: “Funds raised through this wonderful event will be dedicated to creating an accessible, dementia-friendly main entrance, deck and outdoor space for our expanding Adult Day Programme. Thank you to the End-to-End for all they do for Bermuda’s community and believing in WindReach to enrich the quality of lives of individuals living with special needs.” Robin Sidders, interim executive director, Friends of Hospice said: “We are absolutely delighted to be a recipient this year and we are truly grateful to the End-to-End organisers for their support. Friends of Hospice is the charity that supports Agape House, Bermuda’s only hospice and as a non-revenue generating organisation, we rely solely on donations and support from our community. This gift will support our many bereavement support services, including raising awareness about the importance of having difficult conversations about death and dying, and provide vital support to our day-to-day activities so we can fulfil our mission of enhancing the quality of life for patients and their loved ones.” Raleigh Bermuda’s mission is to use overseas expeditions, local training and continued coaching to challenge young Bermudians to harness their full potential and develop skills for life. Executive director Tina Nash said: “It’s an ambitious mission and we can’t do it all alone. That’s why are so very proud to partner with the generous people at Bermuda End-to-End Charitable Trust for the 2019 AXA End-to-End. All of the donated funds will go towards developing the resources needed to support our young Bermudians on their personal quest for self-development, adventure and service work. As a registered charity, we sincerely appreciate the incredible support that we receive from our community partners to help us support and encourage our young Bermudians — they are certainly worth it.” Claudette Fleming, Age Concern’s executive director, said the End-to-End had grown to be a signature community event of the year, raising awareness for critical social issues while having the added benefit of raising much needed funds for Bermuda charities. She said: “Age Concern is pleased to be a recipient of proceeds. As many may already be aware, for the last two years Age Concern has been exploring how to bring a high quality long-term care model that can be financially sustained in Bermuda. At present, the Ministry of Health indicates that there are just over 600 long-term care beds on the island, however the population of older adults aged 65 years and older has increased from 8,643 to 10,842 older persons since the last census. This means that the current residential care system has the capacity to help less than seven per cent of the Island’s entire seniors population. The funds raised by the AXA End-to-End will support Age Concern’s operations as it facilitates the action steps necessary to pilot a new care model in the next 18 to 24 months. The 2019, AXA End-to-End will do even more than that however, as ambassadors of healthy ageing, Age Concern is looking forward to the opportunity to engage our members and volunteers in event activities. We are very grateful for being among the many good causes and organisations who will benefit in 2019 and are looking forward to working with the End-to-End team to support the vital work that is being done in our community.”
High-tech laser scanning is being used to map the historic town of St George in a landmark research project. Brent Fortenberry, an archaeology expert from Texas A&M University, has deployed the technology to create an accurate three-dimensional record of buildings in the Olde Towne in a joint programme with the Bermuda National Trust. Dr Fortenberry said it was the first time the technology had been used in “the Greater Caribbean area”. The information will be used to track changes in buildings in the Unesco World Heritage Site and help with future repairs and conservation work. Dr Fortenberry explained: “No one’s really deployed this technology around the Caribbean, Bermuda, or the Carolinas, so this is the perfect place to kick this off.” The scanner uses a spinning mirror to shine millions of low-powered laser beams across an area. The lasers measure the distance between the scanner and an object and is used to create a three-dimensional map of its surroundings. Dr Fortenberry, who has visited the island several times for archaeological and conservation work, said the information was “invaluable”, and explained that the models can show how the town has evolved over the years. He added: “When you scan a building it’s a snapshot of that moment, so you can monitor buildings by scanning them year by year to create a changing archive of the building. What’s more, we can scan a building and give the information to managers, whether it be for repairs, conservation assessments, and the like.” Dr Fortenberry added that his 12 strong team of Texas A&M students were also carrying out “building investigations” to see how their use and structure had changed. He said that the group had already scanned the Bridge House and State House, which date back to the 17th century. “Right now, this is cutting edge, but in five years everyone’s going to have to know how to use a laser scanner for their work,” Dr Fortenberry added. Hayley Field, 24, one of the team of graduate students, said that the work was a good way to put her academic knowledge to practical use. She added: “I feel that this is kind of adding to our skill set, it’s taking what we’ve been taught in class and applying it to physical buildings.” Ms Field said that she signed up for the project to help earn a Certificate in Historic Preservation in Architecture. Dr Fortenberry said he will discuss the St George’s project and other work involving paint restoration for old Bermudian houses in a lecture for the Bermuda National Trust at its Waterville headquarters in Paget tonight. William Zuill, executive director at the Trust, said: “We are very pleased to be again hosting Dr Fortenberry and his team. The work they are doing builds on the foundations of research carried out by the Bermuda National Trust and others over the last 30 years. Dr Fortenberry’s ability to merge rigorous academic standards with the latest technological tools is especially important.”
A lawyer was discharged from Magistrates’ Court yesterday after assault allegations against him were withdrawn. Magistrate Juan Wolffe heard that the alleged victim, Chavelle Dillon, had withdrawn all six accusations against Kamal Worrell, 38. Carrington Mahoney, for the prosecution, told the court that Ms Dillon had withdrawn the charges for “the sake of their child”. Mr Worrell first appeared in court on November 16. He denied all the charges. The incidents were alleged to have occurred on November 14 last year in Warwick.
Bermudian reinsurers are renowned for providing protection for when the wind blows — but Nephila Capital has struck a deal to provide coverage for when the wind does not blow at all. Nephila, the world’s largest manager of insurance-linked securities funds, has teamed up with Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty’s Alternative Risk Transfer unit to help a new $600 million wind farm in the US ensure revenue stability, even when the turbines stop turning. The coverage is in the form of a proxy revenue swap (PRS), a financial derivative that will allow owners of the High Lonesome wind farm in Crockett Counties, Texas, to minimize risks related to price, as well as weather. The PRS relates to a 295-megawatt portion of the 450-megawatt wind farm, which is under construction and is owned by Enel Green Power North America, a subsidiary of Enel, an Italian corporation. In a statement, Enel said this was the biggest PRS in the world by capacity for a single plant. Allianz and Nephila executed the PRS in collaboration with REsurety, a renewable energy risk manager. Lee Taylor, chief executive officer of REsurety, said: “Renewable energy projects are under increasing pressure to deliver predictable returns despite the increasing volatility of the value of intermittent generation. “We developed the Proxy Revenue Swap specifically to deliver unrivalled certainty of cash flows, regardless of power price volatility and weather-driven intermittency. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Enel, Allianz and Nephila to bring the largest PRS transaction to fruition.” Nephila was acquired by Markel Corporation last November in a deal worth $975 million. It continues to operate as a separate company within the Markel group. As of last September, Nephila had $12.2 billion of assets under management.
The chief executive of the Bermuda Hospitals Board has taken a three-month break on medical grounds. Venetta Symonds has been off work since December 15 and is expected to return on March 18. Michael Richmond, the board’s chief of staff, is acting CEO in her absence. The board said yesterday that Ms Symonds’s leave was supported by a medical certificate. The hospitals board is implementing an improvement plan drawn up by Dr Richmond, in partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, as reported by The Royal Gazette last week. Dr Richmond said yesterday: “On behalf of staff, leadership and the executive team, we have a clear strategy to continue implementing and quality improvements that are well under way. Services will continue, we will keep working on improvements and look forward to welcoming Mrs Symonds back in March.” Details of the three-year IHI partnership were published in the Official Gazette on Monday in a list of contracts worth $50,000 or more entered into by the BHB. Boston-based IHI is to be paid $606,000 for “strategic guidance and capacity building” from May last year until May 2021. William Madeiros replaced Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, as hospitals board chairman after the Government appointed a new board last month. The new deputy chairwoman is Lucille Parker-Swan and the other members are Mrs Symonds, Edward Schultz, Sandy DeSilva, Victor Scott, Anthony Manders, Cyril Whitter Jr, Terry Faulkenberry and Alison Hill.
A knee-jerk reaction to criticism by community activists sparked a government update on work to combat gangs, an anti-violence campaigner claimed yesterday. Desmond Crockwell, chief editor of anti-violence magazine Visionz, said that the decision by Wayne Caines, the national security minister, to highlight progress only days after a man was shot and killed outside a sports club, was questionable. Mr Crockwell added: “There was a young man who was just laid to rest. Is this something that they should be bragging about now? Will you take these stats to the young man’s family at this time? I think not. Regular updates should be provided instead of responding just for the sake of looking good. I believe this was a knee-jerk reaction and response to many of the concerns that many of the community members are having.” He was speaking after he and fellow activist Gina Spence called for a fresh approach to the problem of gang violence in the wake of the murder of Ronniko Burchall, 30, on December 29. Mr Caines released the update on January 6. Mr Crockwell said: “It would be wise of them to have regular press releases to inform the public of progress. This is a community epidemic and concern, as opposed to responding only when The Royal Gazette puts pressure on them by interviewing concerned community workers and members.” Mr Caines emphasized in last Sunday’s statement that he welcomed the opinions of community activists. He added: “They do not have access to the overall ministerial plan, which includes the gang violence strategy, key goals, objectives, deliverables, and the matrix of accountability for the Gang Violence Reduction Team.” Mr Crockwell questioned if the plan had considered the efforts of community workers. He asked: “What happened to the peace-builders initiative? Should the community not know about that plan? The anti-violence campaign in the schools, should the community not know about that plan? The distribution of confiscated assets that were used to assist many of the community-focused organisations, should the community not know about these things? Do Martha Dismont, Gina Spence, Antonio Belvedere, Lynwood Richardson of any other community workers get mentioned in these successful statistics? If no one else has had an impact but the ministry, then 1,000 per cent kudos to them but I would assume otherwise.” The weekend highlighted figures that showed gun crimes had dropped by nearly 45 per cent in 2018. The statistics showed there were three firearms-related deaths or injuries last year, down from nine in 2017 and 14 in 2016. The Government said there were 27 incidents last year which involved a firearm, were believed to involve a firearm, or where a firearm was recovered. The figure for 2017 was 49, and in 2016 it was 82. Serious assaults also showed a drop to 32 last year, down from 37 in 2017 and 46 in 2016. Arrests for violent crime totaled 24 in 2018, up from 22 in each of the two previous years. The Bermuda Police Service declined to say if they had provided the figures and referred questions to the Department of Communications as the statistics were released by the Ministry of National Security. Mr Crockwell also called for the Royal Bermuda Regiment to be given a bigger role in the battle against gangs. He said: “In my opinion we need a national defence force that is designated to combating gang violence.”
Police have warned bike riders who perform “wheelies” they are risking their lives and others. The caution came after officers watched footage of riders that appeared online this week. The one-minute clip shows a motorcyclist, filmed by another rider, speeding on North Shore Road in Devonshire and weaving several times over the centre line. Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell, a police traffic officer, said the behavior was “inherently dangerous”. Mr Cardwell added it risked “not only the life of the rider but also everyone else seen in the footage going about their business on the roads”. The rider is seen to go through Barkers Hill roundabout, scene of a fatal crash last October, and speed up Palmetto Road. Mr Cardwell added: “We discourage this kind of riding and showboating of skills on public roads. There is an area at Southside specifically designed for this. We will continue to look for opportunities to prosecute these offenders to the maximum extent of the law.” Wheelies, also called wheel stands, are an automatic offence under Bermuda law.
Climate change is having a growing impact on insurers’ bottom lines. That is the view of Bermuda-registered German reinsurance giant Munich Re, which highlights an increasing incidence of costly forest fires as a symptom of global warming. In its global catastrophe report, published yesterday, Munich Re estimated that insurers and reinsurers paid out $80 billion on worldwide natural disaster claims in 2018. That covered half of the estimated $160 billion in economic losses. The single most costly event was the Camp Fire, which devastated the small town of Paradise in northern California in November and caused 68 fatalities, as well as total losses of $16.5 billion, of which $12.5 billion were insured. Ernst Rauch, Munich Re’s chief climatologist, said global warming was causing forest fires to enter a new dimension, with losses running into the tens of billions of dollars. “Higher and higher temperatures are leading to ever greater droughts, and high humidity in the winter means that shrubbery grows quickly, creating an easily flammable material in dry summers,” Mr Rauch told Reuters. The report highlights three California wildfires, the Carr Fire in July and August and the Camp and Woolsey Fires of November, which between them caused overall losses of $24 billion, of which $18 billion were insured. So almost one quarter of insured natural disaster losses were attributable to wildfires. The year’s total of $80 billion paid out by insurers was less than the $140 billion tab they picked up in 2017, but still nearly double the inflation-adjusted $41 billion average over the past 30 years, Munich Re said. Last year ranks among the ten costliest disaster years in terms of overall losses, and was the fourth-costliest year since 1980 for the insurance industry. Hurricanes Michael and Florence generated total losses of $31 billion, of which $15 billion were insured. North America accounted for 68 per cent of insured losses, while Typhoon Jebi, which cost insurers $9 billion and caused damages in Japan and Taiwan, was the costliest event outside the US. Petra Löw, the report’s author, touched on the protection gap in developing economies. “Payouts by the insurance industry helped to boost catastrophe resilience, in other words the ability after a disaster to return to normality as quickly as possible,” Ms Löw said. “However, industrialized countries still account for the vast majority of insurance payouts following natural catastrophes.” She added: “The situation with insurance protection in emerging and developing countries is quite different, despite the fact that, for financially weak and low-income countries, improving risk management and resilience-building systems is an important way of mitigating the impact of humanitarian disasters and promoting sustainable economic growth.” However, Munich Re also noted that 50 per cent of global macroeconomic losses from natural catastrophes in 2018 were insured, a significantly higher percentage than the long-term average of 28 per cent. Munich Re NatCatService tallied 850 events, including storms, floods, fires, earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides. Asia was worst affected with 43 per cent of all events and 74 per cent of the total 10,400 fatalities. The protection gap was very apparent there, with only $18 billion of losses insured out of total losses of $59 billion.
Bermuda’s former prison is to be reborn as a history research centre, the executive director of the National Museum of Bermuda said yesterday. Elena Strong said the Casemates buildings in Dockyard would be used to focus on “the Atlantic World from 1415 to 1945”. She added: “The concept is to establish a multidisciplinary research facility at Casemates comprising a consortium of universities from the US, UK, Canada, Europe and Africa, which will operate under the umbrella of the NMB.” The museum, formerly called the Maritime Museum, acquired the Casemates property from the Bermuda Government in December 2009. The complex was once a barracks for the Royal Marine guards until The Royal Navy departed Bermuda in the 1950s, and then a maximum-security prison from the late 1950s to 1994. The building has been under restoration for years, but the new concept was outlined as Ms Strong laid out initiatives under the museum’s ten-year plan. She said the plan was designed to boost Bermudian knowledge of history and the island’s cultural assets, strengthen research and make the NMB “a must-see museum”. The new centre will also be used to build on education, including teacher training and schools programmes. Ms Strong said the education strategy would guide the “learning landscape” of the museum down to publications, research and collecting. The former curator and deputy director at NMB took over the top job a year ago after Edward Harris retired. Ms Strong said that her biggest challenge had been repairs needed after four hurricanes hit the island from 2014 to 2016. She added the storm strikes were “the worst disaster in the museum’s history”. Ms Strong said that the museum had now “emerged from the cloud of disasters”.
Dozens of new signs have gone up at Dockyard – telling visitors the names of a huge variety of plants. The signs, which give the Latin and English names, were the idea of West End Development Corporation’s landscape staff who undertook the project as part of their ongoing training and education – as well as to help visitors who would ask them for help with the plant names. James Pace, WEDCO’s Assistant Facilities Manager, said: “Government held a job fair which we attended and also had a booth. We met Ann Boynton-Smith who is a landscape architect and she was keen to help us. “We have now completed phase one, which was covering a third of Dockyard and we are about to embark on phase two. It is hoped we can complete signage throughout Dockyard by the first quarter of this year.” Carmen Tucker, WEDCO’s Facilities Manager, said: “Our guests, both tourists and residents, have commented on how well designed and maintained the Dockyard landscaping is and they consistently show interest in what the local flora and fauna is, so we took the initiative to add these signs. On top of that, it was a very good piece of educational training for our landscaping staff, who are all also Certified Tourism Ambassadors. Our staff do an outstanding job keeping the grounds looking immaculate.”
Trauma inflicted by racism has left a legacy of hidden pain, a campaigner has said. Lynn Winfield, president of Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda, said that historic and recent incidents had left people “traumatised and stressed”, which surprised some on the island. Ms Winfield added: “Those who believe racism is a thing of the past need only hear some of the pain and experiences shared in the sessions to understand this is not true.” She was speaking as Curb prepared for the start of a new round of truth and reconciliation sessions, scheduled to start on February 6 at the Human Rights Commission headquarters on Hamilton’s Victoria Street. Ms Winfield said that “the most notable and worrying thing is the amount of trauma that is recounted in the room”. Curb launched the talks in March 2017, with groups of up to 20 guided by trained mediators in exploring their experiences of race and racism. Ms Winfield said the demographics of the talks had remained “consistent” with double the number of women attendees compared with men. A total of 54 per cent of participants have been black people compared with 46 per cent white people. Ms Winfield said: “We definitely need more males.” Groups have averaged 15 participants, plus a facilitator with two assistants. Ten groups have met over the past two years. Ms Winfield said the sessions had underlined “how little people know about their history”. She added: “Both blacks and whites are shocked by the huge gaps in their knowledge. We go on to discuss why this history is marginalized at best or purposefully suppressed or hidden at worst, all of which makes for fascinating discussions and sharing of experiences and memories of schools and teachers. For those looking for a kumbaya experience, this is likely not the place for them. There is a lot of trauma in the black community which has been suppressed for years, and at the end of the seven weeks many tell us that it’s been a cathartic experience for them. This is not surprising: when a safe place is provided, hurt, pain and anger will be expressed. A group staying with that person through the process demonstrates their empathy and is a sign of love and support,” Ms Winfield explained. “When people return week after week, despite the emotional pain, it is a sign of community, relationship and empathy.”
Bermudian actress and singer Adi Wolf has landed a plum role as Tina Turner’s grandmother in a German production of a musical based on the superstar’s life, despite a struggle with the language. Adi Wolf won the role in Tina — The Tina Turner Musical after two auditions. The 53-year-old mother of three, who has lived in the port city of Hamburg with German husband Jorg for six years, said: “I have really worked on my German for a bit, but I thought there was no way. My German wasn’t good enough. “I got a call back, and so I started working more on my German. I went back in thinking I still had no chance, but they seemed to be OK. As soon as I got home, they called me and asked if I could come in the next day.” She added: “I found out later that apparently they already knew they wanted me for the part from the first call, but they wanted to know if I could learn the German.” Ms Wolf admitted she almost decided against going for an audition. Ms Wolf said: “I saw it and I thought it would be cool, but I thought I wouldn’t bother. Then I thought about it more and I decided I would just audition. I thought I was too old to play Tina, but maybe I could be her mother or her sister. Then I got there and they said they would like to see me for the grandmother, GG.” Ms Wolf said she was stunned after she won the role and excited to be a part of the show, which focuses on Tina Turner’s humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, and her rise to world fame. Ms Wolf said: “I’m really excited about this because it deals with a part of Tina Turner’s life that people don’t know a lot about. People know What’s Love Got to Do with It, but this is something completely different. This follows a younger, earlier part of her life and the people in her life. That’s what excited me about it. I think it’s going to be epic.” She added: “It’s also important that this is an official show. Tina Turner has been involved in every part of it. I think that’s really exciting.” Ms Wolf was an experienced performer before she moved to Germany and has since had roles in several major musicals. She has appeared in productions of Showboat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, as well as singing in several bands. The Tina Turner musical premiered in London’s West End last year with another Bermudian, Candace Furbert, in the cast. Rehearsals for the German production are now under way at Hamburg’s Stage Operettenhaus and the premiere is scheduled for March. Ms Wolf said she would be happy to return to the island to help encourage young Bermudians to achieve their dramatic dreams. She added: “I tried a few years ago to organize something with the National Gallery. I think jazz is a dying art and I thought it would be great to get young people involved in art and jazz, so the idea was to get artists to paint while I am singing.” However, Ms Wolf said the project failed on cost grounds, but that she still hoped to find a way to show young Bermudians that an international career in the performing arts was achievable. She added: “There are a lot of Bermudians who are doing their thing out here and I would love to show the younger Bermudians that it can be done. You really can have the life. I know for a period I didn’t think I could ever be anybody in Bermuda, on this little island. I want to put Bermuda on the map, but first you need Bermudians to know they can be on the map. The most important thing is for people to know it can be done.”
A 60-year-old man whose car plunged about 70 feet down a cliff face into the sea on Saturday said yesterday that staying calm helped save his life. Franklyn Roberts said: “I wasn’t worried and I didn’t panic because I realised I was already in the situation.” Mr Roberts, who is blind in one eye, said he lost control after something got in his good eye and temporarily blinded him as he negotiated a bend. He said: “Just as I was making the corner, I went a little too close to the fence. Mr Roberts said he tried to apply the brakes, but was unable to stop. He added he wanted to avoid plunging nose-first over the cliff. Mr Roberts said: “Everything was like in slow motion. “My fear was landing head first or upside down, so I turned the wheel to the right,” Mr Roberts explained. “Apparently it worked.” Mr Roberts, from Paget, added: “It didn’t seem too hard at all. Before I know it, I was stationary.” His small blue Mazda hatchback landed upright, but partly submerged, which forced him to swim to safety. The crash happened last Saturday afternoon on Southampton’s Middle Road, near Five Star Island as he travelled home after visiting a friend in Somerset. Mr Roberts said the driver’s door was jammed against a rock, but he escaped through a rear door without problems and headed for the shore. However, his house keys were attached to the car’s ignition key, which was still in the car and he swam back to get them before he made landfall. Mr Roberts said he forced himself not to give in to fear. He added: “It’s like a rip tide. You have to know what you are in. The main thing is that you do not panic.” Mr Roberts said he was lucky his ten-year-old son, who often accompanied him, was not in the car at the time. He added: “He would usually be with me, but he wasn’t with me then.” Mr Roberts said he was “definitely fine” after his ordeal. He added: “It’s a day in my life. I felt a little cold from the water, but was OK otherwise. Mr Roberts said: “I had just gotten the car repaired and licensed just the day before. I am glad I survived. The car is immaterial. I am here.” But Mr Roberts, who had been due to return to his friend’s house for a party later that day, said he took a rain check. He added: “I stayed home after that.” Mr Roberts said he lost the sight in his right eye after his bicycle was hit by a motorcycle about 40 years ago, which resulted in the optic nerve being cut. He explained: “I was in my twenties. A tourist crashed into me.”
A 69-year-old man denied child-pornography charges in Supreme Court yesterday. The man, from Pembroke, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, faced two charges of accessing hundreds of videos and photographs. It is alleged the man used a peer-to-peer, file-sharing network to view 113 videos and 752 images. The man’s bail was continued for a further court appearance this month. In a separate case, David Minors, 43, from Sandys, who admitted last year to having committed three sex offences involving an under-age boy, was ordered to return to court on February 13 for sentencing.
A 26-year-old woman was banned from the roads for 18 months for drink-driving yesterday after police spotted her shrubbery-covered car in the early hours of the morning. Magistrates’ Court heard officers spotted Jennifer Ross’s “extensively damaged” vehicle on Paget’s South Road about 3.30am last Friday and pulled her over. She told police she had been involved in a collision earlier and admitted she had been drinking. A later breath test showed 170 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood — more than double the 80mg/100ml legal limit. Ross, who pleaded guilty to drink-driving, asked if she could be allowed to continue to ride a motorcycle so she commute to work. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe said a disqualification was mandatory and also fined Ross $1,000.
The Government spent more than $135,000 on specialists to help navigate the European Union’s demands for economic substance rules and Brexit-related matters. Legal and advisory firm Steptoe, which has offices in Brussels, London and Washington, was hired to assist Bermuda’s leaders and civil servants on EU affairs. The company was paid $135,650.43 for work carried out between last June and October in a contract said in a government notice to be “professional services European Union”. The Government said last week the cost of the contract with Steptoe, which provides professional services on European and international law and policy, was shared between the Ministry of Finance and the Cabinet Office. David Burt, the Premier, said: “The need for direct interaction with the EU has been shown in the months of work that led to the adoption of the Economic Substance Act 2018. Like other jurisdictions, Bermuda has become an international target of European, localized politics. This threat can and will be met by direct engagement in Brussels on behalf of the Government of Bermuda.” The contract was listed among eight individuals and organisations employed by the Cabinet Office on contracts of at least $50,000 revealed by information published in the Official Gazette last week. Bermuda was one of more than 40 jurisdictions who promised to introduce legislation by the year-end to address EU concerns about tax avoidance by multinational companies. The Economic Substance Act 2018 was passed in December after it was redrafted and returned to the House of Assembly. It is understood the European Code of Conduct Group was not satisfied with the original version of the legislation. Steptoe’s website said: “In more than 100 years of practice, Steptoe has earned an international reputation for vigorous representation of clients before governmental agencies, successful advocacy in litigation and arbitration, and creative and practical advice in structuring business transactions.” The site listed “preventive international corporate compliance”, including “economic sanctions/export controls” among its areas of expertise. Information about its relationship with Bermuda was released in the Official Gazette last Monday as part of a Public Access to Information requirement to publish details of Government contracts valued at $50,000 or more. Also included in the list was The Group, a Washington-based lobbying organisation on a $200,000 deal to provide US regulatory guidance to the Government. A spokeswoman said later the company has been under contract for more than a year. Philip Perinchief, a former Progressive Labour Party senator and attorney-general, was hired for $92,031.12 in a dual capacity as a consultant and also assisted the former government reform ministry in a re-organization of boards and committees after a 2017 Throne Speech pledge. The spokeswoman said: “There are close to 200 boards and committees and the requirements for most are enshrined in legislation. This work continues under the Cabinet Office. Mr Perinchief also undertook a review of the Public Access to Information Act, the results of that work are currently being considered. He also provided legal advice and support to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.” A total of $991,054.67 was earmarked for rent between January and October, 2018. That included $175,327.21 on an office in Washington DC, despite it being closed. A contract for $399,327.46 with White Druce and Brown was for the Government’s London office and a further $416,400 was assigned to island property firm Ingham and Wilkinson. The figures also showed $55,000 contracts from last May to April this year for Vincent Hollinsid and Orin Simmons, members of the Government’s Public Service Negotiating Team. They were part of a group hired last year to continue negotiations with the Prison Officers Association and the Bermuda Police Association.
An Opposition MP claimed yesterday that $175,000 spent by Government on an unused office in Washington DC could instead have funded schools or pensions. Michael Dunkley, a former One Bermuda Alliance premier, started to “phase out” use of the office in March 2017 while still in office. The Progressive Labour Party took power the following July and pledged to return staff to Washington. The office remained closed and information published in the Official Gazette showed rent for the space at Liberty Place, on the United States capital’s 7th Street, cost the Government of Bermuda $175,327.21 from January to October 2018. Mr Dunkley said yesterday: “We questioned the reopening of the office in the Budget last year and we’re very disappointed that the Premier, with all the challenges that we face, would spend $175,000 to air-condition an office, not to turn on the lights and not to unlock the door, when we have a government that’s operating at a yearly deficit, that’s in deep debt. There are 175,000 other ways we could find more appropriate to use the money. It could be used for school supplies, it could be used for pensions for our seniors.” The Washington office was opened in September 2009 to strengthen links between Bermuda and the US, although it remained without staff until halfway through the next year when a managing director was appointed. Craig Cannonier reviewed its operations as he considered cost-cutting measures after the OBA won the 2012 General Election. But the office was kept on until Mr Dunkley told legislators in March 2017 it was being phased out. A total of $206,000 was allocated for the premises in the 2017-18 Budget to cover rent, utilities and insurance until a sublet could be organized as several years remained on the lease. The PLP returned to power in July 2017 and in its September Throne Speech that year the administration pledged: “This government will increase Bermuda’s outreach around the globe by staffing the empty Washington DC office and increasing engagement with the European Union in Brussels to ensure that Bermuda’s interests are represented as the United Kingdom leaves the EU.” A government spokeswoman said last week: “The goal for this government is to reopen the office in the future.” David Burt, the Premier, added later that efforts would be renewed to “staff up the DC office”. Mr Dunkley said yesterday: “We made the decision to close it so, at this point in time, we still don’t support opening the office. The Premier needs to make a good justification on why that’s the case, if it was so important to open, why has it taken a year to even move on doing something about it?” Mr Burt promised in February last year that Bermuda would open an office in Brussels on April 1, 2018 in a bid to limit spending on consultants in Europe — but that too has yet to open. He said last week: “I am pleased to confirm that an office location has been identified. Before the end of this month, we will have established a presence in Brussels.” Mr Burt added the Government’s management of its international relations, including an “invaluable” team in London, helped “to deliver on our promise to lift up people in need of help and to create opportunities for young people investing in education here and abroad”. He said: “Our investment in these global activities is designed to promote our interests abroad while safeguarding our future here at home.” In response to Mr Dunkley’s comments, a statement from a government spokeswoman said: “From October 2015 until the change of government in 2017 it should be reminded that in our major trading partner we essentially had no representation whatsoever when faced with a new administration and tax reform.” The statement claimed the former OBA government “even cancelled our consulting arrangements”. It added: “The office was shut down with no plan, and responsible governments don’t operate without representation in the capital.”
Tough new European Union rules designed to combat tax avoidance can be turned to Bermuda’s advantage, a top manager at professional services firm KPMG said yesterday. Will McCallum, a KPMG managing director, said turmoil caused by the Economic Substance Act, passed by Parliament last year to bring the island into line with an EU attempt to combat companies with only a technical base offshore, could help to attract more business. More than 40 jurisdictions were required to pass legislation, and low or no-tax zones were warned they could be put on a “blacklist” by March if they failed to tackle European Code of Conduct Group concerns over tax avoidance by multinational companies. Mr McCallum told The Royal Gazette: “This is a pretty significant change, it’s not just Bermuda, it’s all the British Overseas Territories, Crown Dependencies and a number of other jurisdictions. One tangential goal here is that it really does feel like Bermuda can come out ahead on this. At a minimum, Bermuda has already come out ahead in that it’s passed its legislation, and most of the jurisdictions have, but if we were in a situation where we had not passed our legislation and others had — not having this legislation in place and ending up on a blacklist in March is just unacceptable, untenable, can’t happen. Now that Bermuda Inc is in a position where the world has changed a little, getting us all together in a room, walking through the implications to certain industries, providing a broad outline of the rules, making sure everyone is aware as to what the response is — I think there’s a real benefit there to everyone.” Economic substance means firms must show a physical presence, employees and revenue-generating activities. Mr McCallum is scheduled to speak on the subject on Friday at an information session organized by KPMG. Mr McCallum said the first task was to ensure businesses already based on the island knew what was needed to avoid penalties or unwarranted attention from the EU. He admitted: “We will probably lose a few entities from Bermuda but if you look across the other jurisdictions, they’re in the same boat. Entities in all these jurisdictions need to assess their circumstances, determine whether they meet the substance requirements in that jurisdiction, if they don’t, either leave or liquidate.” Mr McCallum said business leaders would consider infrastructure, access to talent, premises and operating environment when they weigh up their options. He added: “It’s kind of hard to imagine across all these jurisdictions a better place than Bermuda for most of them. If you look at the depth of our infrastructure, the service providers, the quality of the regulator, the quality of our local law and legislation, our courts — we stand really at the front of the pack in that regard.” Companies affected by the new rules are those that conduct “relevant activities”, which includes insurance, banking and fund management. Mr McCallum said: “It’s better the talent base already exists in that jurisdiction — accountants, lawyers, actuaries, bankers, people with financial experience. There is just no place better than Bermuda. If we have entities in those other jurisdictions looking for a home, it just feels like we’re a fantastic port of call.” Mr McCallum said the implementation of the regime will be monitored by EU watchdogs and that its introduction was an “incredibly disruptive event”. He added: “There will never be another opportunity like this, to get in front of people and remind them of the Bermuda message. The loss of any company from Bermuda would have an impact but the island was well placed to counter any departures. The base of Bermuda’s economy isn’t tens or hundreds of thousands of faceless companies that do very little here. The basis of Bermuda’s international business community is companies that have substantial presence here, that employ a lot of people here, that are in highly regulated industries like insurance or banking, a lot of these entities will need to assess whether they meet economic substance requirements but a lot of them, frankly, will.” Mr McCallum added: “A number of companies leaving that do nothing here is very easily offset by an increase in real presence by a similar or even smaller number of companies that are hiring people, spending more money locally, renting corporate office space. Bermuda Inc needs to be on the front foot here making sure that, given this sort of disruptive event, everyone’s looking for opportunities to attract quality companies here. The legislation referred to “adequate” presence rather than specific numbers and that that was the “most challenging” of its elements. Entities all over the world, and specifically in Bermuda, now need to be assessing whether they have adequate people with the adequate experience and they’re spending the right amount of money and they have adequate physical premises.” John Wight, the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce president, said it was too early to tell what impact the new legislation would have on the business sector. He said the business community supported the Government’s commitment to “ensuring that Bermuda will not be on any EU list of non-compliant jurisdictions”.
A $5,000 fine served on a schoolgirl who got work experience as a hairdresser without a work permit has been quashed by the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Narinder Hargun ruled that the Chief Immigration Officer was wrong to penalize Ashley Aguiar for working unpaid in Tranquil Hair and Beauty in St George’s without a work permit. Mr Justice Hargun said that the youngster, a lifelong Bermuda resident, but who did not have Bermudian status, was not employed or paid by the salon and was there to learn the trade. Ms Aguiar told The Royal Gazette: “I am happy with the outcome and truly believe the right thing has been done. Mr Justice Hargun said in his ruling: “The crucial fact in this regard is that Ms Aguiar was not engaged in the ordinary business of a hairstylist but was limited to the activities undertaken in order to gain practical experience. An essential feature of this arrangement was that it was carried out without ‘reward, profit or gain’.” Ms Aguiar was fined in November 2017 after the immigration department found she was in breach of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act. Officials said that she had broken the law “notwithstanding that no reward, profit or gain may be obtained or obtainable in the circumstances of the particular case”. At the time she was a Berkeley Institute pupil who wanted to become a hairdresser. The court heard that the girl was allowed to go to the salon by its owner to help her career ambition. Ms Aguiar also helped to style the hair of her family and boyfriend on a “non-commercial basis”. Peter Sanderson, representing Ms Aguiar, argued his client’s work at the salon was limited to styling the hair of family members and work at charitable events, which did not amount to gainful occupation. He added that — even if there had been a breach of the law — the $5,000 penalty was “unreasonable and disproportionate”. Mr Justice Hargun said in his written judgment last November: “The informal arrangement between the owner of the salon and Ms Aguiar does not amount to the relationship of an employer and employee. Likewise, this unstructured informal arrangement to obtain practical experience would not appear to amount to the practice of a ‘profession’; or ‘carry on any trade’ or ‘engage in local business’.” He added that, if immigration law had been broken, it was up to the Chief Immigration Officer to decide if a warning was appropriate. However, Mr Justice Hargun said that did not apply to Ms Aguiar’s case, as there was no breach of the law.
The number of cruise ship visitors rocketed by more than 168 per cent last November compared with the same period in 2017, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said yesterday. The number of tourists who arrived by air rose by just 2.7 per cent over the same time frame. Kevin Dallas, the BTA chief executive, said: “As outlined in the National Tourism Plan, our strategy is to focus on better balance in Bermuda’s cruise business with more calls outside the summer months. The effectiveness of that strategy has shown up in the November 2018 visitor arrival statistics.” Mr Dallas added: “As our extended season strategy takes hold, we hope tourism experience providers are ready to provide the same level of service to cruise passengers in November as they do during the summer.” A total of 18,620 visitors travelled to the island by cruise ship and 11,836 tourists flew to the island last November. Wedding bells helped boost air arrivals in the month as 674 visitors gave marriage ceremonies as their reason to travel to Bermuda — more than double the figure for the same period in 2017. The increase in tourism arrivals came despite a drop in airlift to Bermuda as airlines provided 10.1 per cent fewer seats on Bermuda-bound flights. Overall air arrivals dropped by 4.7 per cent last November compared with the previous year because of a 14.6 per cent decrease in business travel and a 13.5 per cent drop in people visiting friends and family in Bermuda. Hotel occupancy in November also dropped year-on-year, from 64.3 per cent occupancy with 65,905 bed nights to 55.9 per cent occupancy with 59,959 bed nights. The decrease resulted in an $11.12 reduction in revenue per room for hotels. The percentage of visitors who opted for Airbnb-style vacation rentals rose from 1,435 to 1,500, a 0.7 per cent increase 8.2 per cent. Mr Dallas said that year-on-year hotel occupancy in the first 11 months of 2018 was only slightly up from 2017. He added: “When you strip out 2017, which was boosted by the America’s Cup, hotel occupancy is up more than six percentage points versus 2016. That’s healthy growth. While there is plenty of hard work left to do in the Bermuda tourism comeback, our partners at the Bermuda Hotel Association are very pleased with the progress over the past three years — as are we.” Mr Dallas said year-on-year figures for November were also skewed because the island hosted a large-scale international business conference in November 2017. He explained: “Our sales team landed a large Canadian business group which brought about 800 business visitors to occupy three local hotels. Without a group of that size in November 2018, business visitors, hotel occupancy and visitation from Canada were all down within that one month. Meantime, leisure air visitor arrivals continue to perform extremely well. In fact, leisure travelers in 2018 are more than filling the gaps left by decreases in the business and visiting friends and family categories.”
Primary school pupils are prepared to avoid getting tangled up in gang culture after a six-week course designed to tackle antisocial behavior and violence. Ten students at Prospect Primary School in Pembroke, aged 10 or 11, completed the Gang Resistance Education and Training programme, run by two Customs officers. The youngsters said at their graduation ceremony yesterday they were now prepared to pass on the lessons they learnt. Makeila Wainwright, 11, said: “I learnt that once you get into a gang even though you come out, they will still view you as a gang member.” She added: “Once you get in a gang, you are always in a gang.” Classmate Teresa-Rose Burchall, 10, added: “When you get in a gang, people will see you as someone who is always in the gang and may still come after you when you leave the gang.” Teresa-Rose added: “I learnt that when you get bullied or you get mad, you should go to an adult to solve the problem. Savion Benjamin, 10, said he learnt not to be a bully. He added: “I also learned not to be a bystander. If you see someone bullying others, you should tell a teacher.” The ten said the Great programme was a “life-changing experience”. They also learnt about anger control, and to think about the potential consequences of their decisions. Customs officer Willis Dill said if the children practiced what they learnt then many of society’s problems could be eliminated. He added: “Parents, if your children follow some of the guidelines that we have given them, society won’t have a problem.” Colleague Lalisha Simmons said she enjoyed working with children. She added: “This has been going on for a number of years and it has been successful.” Wayne Caines, the national security minister, told the graduation class that the course was a good opportunity for them. He said: “I know through my life experiences that the building blocks for success actually happen at this stage. As a country, as a community, as a school, we have to do more. The Government will continue programmes such as Great as part of its drive to cut back on violent crime. Other programmes were being run in middle and high schools. The community also needed to work together. We need to start to heal and to help each other. We need to find opportunities where no matter where you are in our communities, we need to advocate for mentorship, for opportunities through education, but more importantly, we need to work as a community for families.” The Great programme was designed to teach life-skills to school pupils in an attempt to tackle antisocial behavior and crime. A total of 513 students in 22 primary and middle schools were trained under the programme last year. A four-strong team of Customs officers were trained last summer as instructors and tasked with carrying out training in six schools.
Rum maker Gosling’s and its former chief financial officer, Trudie Ottolini, have agreed to resolve litigation between them on amicable terms. Gosling’s Ltd and Gosling’s Export (Bermuda) Ltd filed a complaint against Trudie Ottolini at the Supreme Court on May 16 last year. The writ accused Ms Ottolini of making more than half a million dollars of unauthorized transactions in a three-week period to various overseas entities. It further claimed that Ms Ottolini had changed resolutions relating to company bank accounts linked with HSBC giving herself sole authorization to make the payments. The writ stated that Ms Ottolini had breached her employment contract which required her to not act dishonestly. In the writ, Gosling’s claimed damages, interest, further relief and costs. Details of the complaint were reported by The Royal Gazette in June last year. In a press release, Gosling’s stated: “The parties have agreed to resolve the litigation between them on amicable terms. Gosling’s can confirm that at no time was Ms Ottolini being accused of any fraudulent conduct relating to the banking transactions referred to in the article, nor was it meant to be conveyed that she was dishonestly involved in the transactions, which were related to a cyber fraud.” Gosling’s also said that all further terms of the settlement agreement “are to be kept confidential pursuant to the settlement agreement as approved by the Supreme Court of Bermuda”.
The US Consulate has been hit by a partial US government shutdown, but US Customs pre-clearance at the airport had not been affected. Constance Dierman, the US Consul General, said the shutdown, caused by failure to agree the national Budget, had affected some services. She added: “During the lapse in appropriations, scheduled passport and visa services at the US Consulate General will continue as the situation permits. Public comments and website updates by the US Consulate General will be limited until full operations resume, except for urgent safety and security information.” The shutdown, which began on December 22, was sparked by a dispute over the funding of a controversial border wall between the US and Mexico proposed by Donald Trump. The stalemate has left several US government departments without funding, including Homeland Security, Justice, Housing, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior and the Treasury. The departments have had to cut back on non-essential services and place some staff on leave. Essential staff have been required to stay on the job without pay. Transportation Security Administration officers have called in sick in large numbers at several US airports, which raised fears that the agency might not have enough staff to maintain safety standards. The TSA said the sick-outs had caused a “minimal impact”.
Conservationists hope lionfish will be back on the menu this winter as the fifth annual Winter Lionfish Derby picks up steam. As of Monday afternoon more than 180 lionfish had already been caught as part of this year’s derby. A spokesman said: “It seems Bermuda’s lionfish typically move closer to shore through the winter, into shallower water, which makes them easy targets. Considering the overall threat that invasive lionfish represent, we think an annual winter derby provides a unique opportunity to catch big numbers of lionfish in an easy and fun way, ultimately making a pretty big dent in their population.” Lionfish, which are native to the Pacific and Indian oceans, were introduced to the Atlantic in the 1990s. The fast-breeding species spread rapidly through the Caribbean and reached Bermudian waters by 2000. Lionfish have no natural predators in the Atlantic and are not recognized as a threat by local fish, which allows them to easily hunt local reef fish. Lionfish are edible, and research by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation found that derbies can reduce the number of lionfish in an area by up to 52 per cent. This year’s winter derby began on January 1 and will continue until the end of the month, with a wrap-up party and award ceremony on February 2. Those taking part in the derby need to have an up-to-date lionfish culling permit and pay a $25 entrance fee, which includes a ticket to the wrap-up event. The spokesman said: “As in years past, there will be cash prizes in both free diver and scuba diver categories. We also hope to have additional door prizes for lionfish hunters who did not bring in big numbers but still deserve a prize for their efforts, so even if you only spear one single lionfish you still might win something. Every lionfish hunter who provides us with proof of their catch will receive an official Winter Lionfish Derby hooded sweatshirt. For any hunters who tried, but came home empty-handed, there will be a limited number of sweatshirts available for purchase.”
Information commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez has upheld a decision by the Government to withhold records relating to the multimillion dollar airport redevelopment. The Ministry of Finance refused in April 2016 to release under public access to information a legal opinion from international law firm Bennett Jones on whether the Government needed a letter of entrustment from Britain to proceed with the deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation. It also refused to disclose some correspondence it had with the British Government about the agreement. Ms Gutierrez, in a decision made public today, found that the Ministry was right to deny disclosure of the legal opinion on the grounds that it was legal advice and was protected by legal professional privilege. The Royal Gazette had argued that there was significant public interest in releasing publicly-held records about the $250 million airport project. But the information commissioner wrote that there was a “strong inbuilt public interest in protecting the openness in communications between client and lawyer”. Ms Gutierrez, having reviewed the record, said she was “not convinced” that disclosure of the legal memorandum would “contribute to the public’s understanding of the decision-making process surrounding the redevelopment project”. She added: “Importantly, the Minister of Finance disclosed during the House of Assembly debate on November 28, 2014 that the legal advice concluded that no letter of entrustment was necessary. This information was not withheld from the public at the time of the controversy. The public is aware that the substance of the legal advice was not relied upon in practice as the Bermuda Government still proceeded to obtain an entrustment letter from the UK for good measure.” Ms Gutierrez ordered the Ministry to release the date on which the legal advice was given by February 11 to “provide the public with a fuller understanding of the Government’s decision-making process with respect to these matters of public administration, without compromising the principles underlying … lawyer and client confidentiality”. The information commissioner also found that the Government was right to withhold a piece of correspondence between itself and the British Government on the grounds that it constituted “international communications made in confidence”. She said: “The information commissioner acknowledges that there is a significant interest in furthering the public’s understanding of a substantial investment of public money. The information commissioner is satisfied, however, that disclosure ... will not provide new information that meaningfully increases the public’s understanding of the project, nor would disclosure further public accountability.” The Ministry of Finance initially released just four records to The Royal Gazette in response to the Pati request, three of which were already in the public domain, prompting our appeal to the information commissioner’s office. It released more records in October this year. Ms Gutierrez said the ICO’s investigation into the decision had resulted in the Ministry sharing three further records with her which were relevant to the Pati request. The Ministry has yet to decide if those documents will be released and the information commissioner gave it until February 11 to do so. A government spokeswoman said that it had seen Ms Gutierrez’s decision and would “take the appropriate actions as required by the Pati Act”.
A solar farm at the airport could affect the handling of emergencies, a former firefighter has claimed. Karl Outerbridge, who served with the airport fire service for several years, said the area earmarked for the power plant could be needed to keep aircraft a safe distance from the public if a disaster happened. Mr Outerbridge was speaking after a planning application was lodged to turn “the finger” at the airport into a solar farm. He said: “That finger needs to remain free and clear so if something happens, we have somewhere to put that aircraft. That’s the bit that no one is stopping to think about. When something goes wrong, it doesn’t just stop at the immediate area around the plane.” Mr Outerbridge started work at the LF Wade International Airport in 1999 while on a break from the insurance industry. He said he served as a foam vehicle operator for several years and was often called out for major incidents. Mr Outerbridge added: “While there, you are constantly trained to think about what would happen in this scenario or that scenario. I was the lead firefighter on a call when a US military C130 was landing with a fire on board. It was filled with extra fuel and ammunition. They parked it at Gate 1, which is right next to the fuel tanks. I was going in and the soldiers were running away. During the period I was there, the Egyptian Army would constantly make stops in Bermuda. They would do a hot refuel, which means they’re taking on fuel when their engines are still hot and the fire department has to be on standby with the trucks." Mr Outerbridge questioned what would happen if an aircraft with high-risk material on board needed a hot refuel and if there were would still be a spot where it could be carried out with minimum risk to the public. He said: “Should there be an incident where one of those planes has to come down, they need to be put somewhere.” Mr Outerbridge said the finger was also used after the 2001 terror attack when flights from around the world were grounded. He added: “That finger looked like City Hall car park. It was incredible the number of planes they stacked there.” Mr Outerbridge said the island’s location in the middle of the Atlantic made it an ideal landing spot if there was another mass grounding. He added: “If Bermuda wants to present itself as serious — we’re going to have a new airport, new facilities, we welcome airlines — we can’t say we have a spanking new airport but don’t show up in our yard. That’s bad for business.” Mr Outerbridge said he understood that pilots were also worried about the availability of safe spots to park planes in emergencies and about the quality of firefighting services at the airport. He added the finger could be used for fire service training and reduce the need to send Bermudian firefighters overseas. Mr Outerbridge said that water catchment areas across the island could be used for the installation of solar panels instead. But a Government spokesman said a safety risk assessment was conducted on the solar project and it was agreed that it would not be a safety risk. He added that the airport could use the five acres of Apron VI, at the top of the finger, in emergencies. The spokesman said it has been used as an aircraft parking area since 1995 and the finger has not been “designated or used” even in emergencies. “Apron VI is designated as a parking area for aircraft including, but not limited to, military aircraft and aircraft requiring isolation. It is not the only area available as additional parking for aircraft.” The spokesman added that a fence would separate Apron VI and the solar farm, and a safety assessment found no negative impact on safety and operations.
The company that is acting as the precious metals procurement agent for Arbitrade is set to become a major shareholder of the cryptocurrency exchange and coin company. Sion Trading FZE has entered into a conditional agreement for the acquisition of the shares in Arbitrade Ltd currently held by Leila Holdings Limited, a Bermuda exempted company owned by Arbitrade founder Troy Hogg. In a brief statement, Arbitrade said the deal will happen subject to the approval of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, and added that BMA consent and completion of the share transfer is expected in the near future. Len Schutzman, chief executive officer and chairman of Arbitrade, said: “Sion has been a valued partner in the development of the Arbitrade business and we are delighted that one of the largest gold trading companies, that procures gold from mines around the world, will be playing a larger role in the company going forward.” Among Arbitrade’s directors is William Richard Sanders, who is listed on its website as also being a director of Sion Trading FZE. Mr Hogg is one of the two shareholders of Arbitrade Properties (Victoria Hall) Ltd, a subsidiary of Arbitrade, that gained government clearance to take possession of Victoria Hall, on Victoria Street, at the end of October. Arbitrade has named Victoria Hall as its global headquarters and said that once its subsidiary Arbitrade Exchange (Bermuda) Ltd, is licensed under the Digital Asset Business Act 2018, it will commence hiring for positions with the company. Sion Trading FZE holds a commercial licence in the Ras Al Khaimah economic zone of the United Arab Emirates, where its activity is listed as trading non-manufactured precious metals. It is a subsidiary of Scotia International of Nevada Inc, a mining equipment supply company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Last month, Sion Trading announced it had secured a precious metals contract with Don David Gold Mexico to purchase “metal dore” from its Oaxaca Mining Unit. It said it planned to allocate precious metals, including those bought from Don David Gold Mexico “to further enhance Arbitrade’s existing gold assets”. Arbitrade said in November that it had “title'" to 395,000 kilograms of gold bullion, which would be worth $16.2 billion at current prices, to back its coins and tokens. One of the tokens is called “dignity” and is in circulation. The company has not said who has given it title to the gold and under what conditions, nor where the gold is, or the name of the “independent public accounting firm” that it says has verified the account. It has stated the reason for this is because it is legally bound by non-disclosure and privacy obligations. A spokesman at Sion Trading FZE last month told The Royal Gazette: “I can’t speak on behalf of Arbitrade, but Arbitrade has title to it [the bullion], end of story. I don’t know what the contract or deal between it is, but they have ownership of it.”
World famous birder David Wingate witnessed a dramatic falcon strike on a Canada goose on a golf course during the Audubon Society’s 44th Christmas Bird Count. A society spokeswoman said the fierce — but unsuccessful — mid-air strike at the Port Royal Golf Course was one of the highlights of the society’s 44th count, in which more than 100 different species were spotted. More than 20 per cent were European starlings. Dr Wingate, who was part of the 1951 expedition to find the cahow, made a career in protecting Bermuda’s wildlife. Dr Wingate and another conservationist, Steve DeSilva, believe they saw a large and very rare gyrfalcon swooping down and striking a Canada goose at Port Royal Golf Course. The goose escaped, the spokeswoman reported. The gyrfalcon is a fierce predator usually found on remote cliffs around and above the Arctic Circle in Canada and Alaska and Northern Europe. The pair also recorded a number of birds of prey, an American kestrel, a sharp-shinned hawk, a merlin and a northern harrier, at the same time on a single hilltop. One Devonshire resident even spotted a rare American woodcock on their property. American woodcocks, known in some areas as timberdoodles, are small seabirds native to the eastern United States and Canada, but rarely seen in Bermuda. The spokeswoman said: “This bird was seen feeding along the edges of a driveway in Devonshire and we were lucky enough to have the resident send us a photo to ask what type of bird it was. What a surprise to see that it was not a common bird, but instead a very infrequent and beautiful visitor.” Birdwatchers at Spittal Pond recorded a marsh wren: a small North American songbird. While the species has only been recorded in Bermuda once before, in 1996, this one has remained at the park for more than a month. The spokeswoman said 6,066 birds representing 95 species were seen on December 29, the official day of the bird count. Another 13 species were seen during the count week, including Bermuda’s indigenous cahow and the endangered piping plover. The spokeswoman added: “Our total numbers were down from previous years but the variety of species has been in the same range." The Christmas Bird Count is a great opportunity for people interested in birds to take part in citizen science. The National Audubon Society collects all of the data and scientists use it to help assess the status of many bird species over time.” The spokeswoman said those interested in helping can sign up on www.ebird.org to report their sightings — and if they are not sure about what bird they have seen, they can message firstname.lastname@example.org with a photograph of the bird if possible.
An annual holiday should honour a national hero, a racial justice organisation urged last night. Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda said that the second day of Cup Match should be named Mary Prince Day. The organisation said that the designation would ensure the holiday “honours and memorializes emancipation and all those who fought for freedom”. It added that Ms Prince “today renowned and celebrated worldwide as a heroine and abolitionist for her courage, fortitude and determination, is surely worthy of the celebration of her name at Cup Match”. Ms Prince, the daughter of two slaves, was born in 1788 at Brackish Pond in Devonshire, now known as Devonshire Marsh. Her autobiography, The History of Mary Prince, was published in 1831. It detailed first-hand the brutality of slavery in Bermuda and the British Caribbean. She was inducted as a Bermuda national hero in 2012. The organisation called on the Government “to fully recognize the emancipation origins of Cup Match and the intent by those enslaved to both commemorate and celebrate their freedom”. It said that the push was part of the organization's Racial Justice Platform for 2019. It added that the platform “is a list of items, actions and legislation, which Curb believes will bring about a greater equity and healthier Bermuda for all”. The organisation added that the measures “are necessary to help us move forward to create stronger community”. It said the full platform would be released this month. The second day of Cup Match is known as Somers Day for Sir George Somers, admiral of the relief fleet for Virginia that wrecked here on July 28, 1609, leading to permanent English settlement. Christopher Famous, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher, last summer called for the name of the holiday to be changed. Mr Famous told the House of Assembly: “Stop naming the second day of our emancipation after a slave owner.”
A youth group gave away more than 22 Christmas hampers to people in need last month. Generation Next, set up to help prepare future leaders, launched the Christmas giveaway with backing from island businesses. Eron Hill, the chairman of Generation Next, said the food hampers included a family-sized turkey, canned goods, boxes of cereal and snacks along with household items and toiletries. He added: “Deliveries were made right to the beneficiaries’ doorsteps between December 21 and 23. The handovers got no publicity because the group wanted to protect the anonymity of the recipients. Recognizing and empathizing with the reality that many who face the hardships and struggles of life that result in needing to be a beneficiary of a food hamper, it is our policy not to take pictures or identify our beneficiaries as we firmly believe that all deserve to enjoy their festive season with family, a hearty meal and one’s dignity.” People were invited to nominate their own family, another one or seniors who needed help over Christmas. The sponsors for Generation Next’s first Christmas hamper event were wholesaler BGA, Smith Technologies, insurance firm Life & Annuity Services and Bermuda Emissions Control. Mr Hill also thanked volunteers who helped organize the giveaway. He said: “A special thank-you must be extended to deputy chairs Karim Creary and Antoine Jones, both of whom ensured that this initiative was a success.” The group plans to continue the donations in the future.
A 15-year-old girl was pronounced dead this afternoon after police found her “unresponsive” at a residence in My Lord’s Bay Road, Hamilton Parish. A police spokesman said the girl was found shortly before noon, adding: “Despite life-saving efforts at the scene, and as the teenager was rushed to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital via ambulance, she was later pronounced dead. No further information regarding the deceased will be provided at this time, until her next of kin is notified.”
An economic indicator that strongly improved during the period when the island hosted the 2017 America’s Cup, has edged higher again. Bermuda’s gross domestic product for the second quarter of 2018, when adjusted for inflation, rose by 0.8 per cent year-on-year. When expressed in current prices GDP, which measures the value of goods and services produced by Bermuda, was $1.55 billion for the second quarter, an improvement of 2.1 per cent on the previous year. Walton Brown, Minister of the Cabinet Office, said: “The real GDP for the second quarter increased 0.8 per cent, which shows some strengthening in the economy, especially when this is being compared with the second quarter of 2017 when Bermuda hosted the America’s Cup. This is encouraging to see.” The GDP figure was included in four economic data reports - see below - released by the Bermuda Government Department of Statistics this afternoon. The island’s inflation rate was 1.1 per cent in September and October, and was included in the consumer price index reports for the two months. Mr Brown said the low level of inflation was beneficial to the economy “since it helps to keep check on the price of goods and services, and also encourages people to spend and businesses to invest”. The fourth economic data bulletin released today showed Bermuda’s balance of payments was $149 million in the second quarter, which was $6 million down on the corresponding period in 2017. It was the lowest quarterly surplus in the period January 2017 to the end of June 2018. Mr Brown said the balance of payments are an important strength in the economy and had “recorded a very respectable current account surplus of $149 million”. The minister also said: “The economic data released exhibits some positive signs in our economy, which is still recovering after several years of economic contraction.”
Gun crimes dropped by nearly 45 per cent in 2018, new figures released today indicate. According to statistics provided by the Government, there were 27 incidents last year which involved a firearm, were believed to involve a firearm, or where a firearm was recovered. The corresponding figure for 2017 was 49, and in 2016 it was 82. According to the numbers, there were three firearms-related fatalities and injuries last year — down from nine in 2017 and 14 in 2016. Serious assaults also showed a drop at 32 last year — down from 37 in 2017 and 46 in 2016. Arrests for violent crime were up to 24 in 2018, from 22 in each of the two previous years. The figures were included in an update on anti-gang initiatives from Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security. Mr Caines said that the Government had devised a “thorough, multi-pronged and disciplined plan” to tackle gang violence in Bermuda. He added: “I have complete confidence in its success.” Mr Caines said that he valued the opinions of community activists. But he added: “They do not have access to the overall ministerial plan, which includes the gang violence strategy, key goals, objectives, deliverables, and the matrix of accountability for the Gang Violence Reduction Team.” He said that the Government’s plan included community activists and leaders, the Bermuda Police Service and other organisations. However he added: “The implementation of this plan does not include responding to every comment made by the public. Our focus is as it should be — on the implementation of the solution for the betterment of Bermuda.” The update also provided details on the work of a number of agencies looking at the gang violence problem in Bermuda, including the Inter-Agency Gang Enforcement Team, the Violence Reduction Unit, and the Coordinated Crisis Response Team. Details of support services provided in schools to at-risk students were also given. Mr Caines said that plans for Redemption Farm were “still in the development stages. The therapeutic farming initiative will commence in 2019.” Mr Caines said the programme would provide employment training, vocational skills, and workshops to participants. "Bermuda’s gang problem would not be fixed overnight. We are steadfast in our belief, that if we are to see an end to violence in Bermuda, our community must rise and play a part in the process. All churches, community clubs, fraternities, sororities, the LGBTQ community, and most importantly family — I challenge you all to step up and be part of the solution. Whether through mentorship, job training, big brothers and sisters or chatting with the men on the wall, everyone has the opportunity to tackle gun violence and it is our responsibility to do so. Through love and the strengthening of family ties, we must address past traumas and break the cycle of family dysfunction to help ensure the trend of antisocial behavior does not continue with our children. Lastly, our women cannot raise our children alone, we need a significant number of our men to step up and accept the responsibility of raising their sons and daughters. Together, we can end gun violence in Bermuda. Let’s stop assigning blame and start working together to change the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.”
Minister of Finance Curtis Dickinson has accused Nick Kempe of playing “political football” as the Government works to protect the international business sector. Mr Kempe, the Shadow Minister of Finance, questioned what the Government had done to ensure companies expand their footprint in Bermuda instead of going elsewhere. However Mr Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, responded that all Mr Kempe should have contacted him if he wanted to know the action the Ministry was taking. Mr Dickinson said: “I am happy to meet with him, just like I met with the Opposition before the debate, and my predecessor the Premier met with the Opposition on no less than three occasions in 2018 to ensure that they were kept up to date on this important matter. As the Minister of Finance I will lead this Ministry with the seriousness it requires and I would recommend that the Shadow Minster understand that not everything needs to be the subject of a politically charged press release. Our future is at stake and we need statesmanship now, not partisanship.” In December, the Government passed the Economic Substance Act 2018, which is intended to meet the commitment made by Bermuda to address certain concerns raised by the European Union’s Code of Conduct Group in relation to the need for relevant businesses to demonstrate economic substance in Bermuda. In an opinion piece, published in Saturday’s edition of The Royal Gazette, Mr Kempe praised the work of the Government in passing legislation which met the “constantly moving goalposts” of the EU. But he asked what the Government was doing to ensure the island benefits from the situation. Mr Kempe said: “I believe the Government shares the hope that some good could come from EU substance, but hopes and plans are two different things. To turn lemons into lemonade, you need sugar. But where is the Government’s plan? The Premier has known this was coming for a long time, having committed to the compliance route in a letter to the EU’s Code of Conduct Group in November 2017. Most of proving substance has to do with boots on the ground. What incentives have been rolled out to ensure that those sectors of international business — besides insurance and banking, which are most likely to be able to meet EU substance requirements — will choose to expand their footprint here as opposed to somewhere else?” In a statement, Mr Dickinson responded that the Government had repeatedly met with the OBA about their approach. He added: “These changes are important, but there is nothing to be gained for Bermuda by telegraphing our plans to our international competitors via the press. I would urge the Leader of the Opposition to, as best he can, restrain the exuberance of his shadow finance minister, and help him to understand that partisanship should stop at the water’s edge when dealing with these important international matters.”
Three leading people involved with Arbitrade - incorporated in 2018 in Bermuda - are seeking protection from alleged cyber-stalking by an analyst and former supporter of the cryptocurrency exchange and coin company. A civil lawsuit has been filed in Florida by Arbitrade founding figures Troy Hogg and James Goldberg, and chief operating officer Stephen Braverman, claiming they are the victims of cyber-stalking. Stock picker and analyst Ronnie Moas and his Florida-based company Standpoint Research are named as the defendants. In documents filed on Thursday at the Miami-Dade County Civil Court, it is claimed Mr Hogg, Mr Goldberg and Mr Braverman and their families have been threatened and stalked after Mr Moas and Standpoint Research posted on social media and communicated to third parties various private mobile numbers, private e-mail addresses, licence plate numbers and other information. The emergency motion for injunction for protection against cyber- stalking is pursuant with the section of Chapter 784 of the Florida Statutes, where cyber-stalking is defined as to communicate, or cause to be communicated, “words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communications, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose”. Mr Moas has authored more than 1,000 research reports and appeared in more than 100 television, newspaper, radio and magazine interviews since 2014, and been a headline speaker at conferences, according to the Standpoint Research website. For most of 2018 he was highly positive towards Arbitrade and its “dignity” crypto token. However, that changed at the end of November, a few weeks after Arbitrade announced it had “title” to $15 billion of gold bullion to back its coins and tokens. At the end of the month Mr Moas, who has thousands of newsletter subscribers and more than 44,000 followers on Twitter, expressed concerns about the company. Arbitrade, which in October named Victoria Hall, on Victoria Street, as its global headquarters, responded with a statement in which it rejected claims that it had misled Mr Moas. Throughout December, Mr Moas continued to express his concerns through Twitter posts and interviews. The court in Miami on Thursday issued a 20-day summons to the parties named in the case. An evidentiary hearing has been scheduled for January 10, when it is expected there will be a formal examination of the charges, testimony heard and evidence received in support or in defence of the charges. Mr Hogg, Mr Braverman and Mr Goldberg are represented by attorney Donald J. Hayden, of Mark Migdal & Hayden. When last checked, Mr Moas and Standpoint Research did not have an attorney listed in relation to the case.
Opinion. By Thomas L. Knapp, director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Centre for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. "Cryptocurrencies had a rough ride in 2018. As of January 7, 2018, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies tracked by CoinMarketCap.com came to more than $800 billion, its highest point ever. As I write this on January 3, 2019, that total market capitalization is down to about $130 billion — one sixth of the market’s high point. You may be surprised to learn that I’m still a cryptocurrency fan. But, just to be up front, yes, I am. Not because I’m sitting on a huge pile of the stuff — as of this moment, my cryptocurrency holdings are worth less than $100 — nor because I expect to make a killing speculating. When I get some crypto, I generally spend it without waiting very long to see if it increases in value. I’m still enthusiastic about cryptocurrency because I’ve seen what it can do and make plausible predictions about what it will be able to do in the future. Cryptocurrency seizes control of money from governments and puts it in the hands of people. With improvements in its privacy aspects, that’s only going to become more true. In short, cryptocurrency fuels freedom. But can it last? Will it win? I think that the past year, far from dispelling that notion, reinforces it. Let me explain. Two kinds of noise related to cryptocurrency seem to have faded in tandem with the market cap’s downward trend. As one might expect, the ultra-bullish “Bitcoin will go to $100,000 real soon now!” voices have gone down in number and volume. But so have the voices comparing cryptocurrency to a Ponzi scheme or to the 17th-century “tulip bubble”. Yes, there are exceptions. One is Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman, who still seems to think that transaction costs and lack of “tethers” to fiat government currencies will make crypto a bad bet. Of course, Krugman also said, in 1998, that “by 2005 or so, it will become clear that the internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s”. So however expert he may be in other areas, I doubt I’m alone in discounting his predictive abilities when it comes to technological advancements. This year-long market correction has been exactly that — a correction towards real values. After a period of hype (“initial coin offerings” based on bizarre-use cases) and scams (“pump and dumps” cons based on new fly-by-night “Altcoins”), the wheat is separating from the chaff, the fraud is settling down to a level consistent with the rest of human activity, and the financial “mainstream” attitude has gone from dismissive to curious to “how do we get in on this?” Cryptocurrency is getting better and better at what it was meant to do: it facilitates transactions without regard to political borders, it safeguards the records of those transactions through a distributed ledger system (“blockchain”), and to varying degrees (depending on which currency and the individual user’s habits) it protects the privacy of those who use it from prying eyes. Cryptocurrency and the freedom it entails are here to stay. Welcome to the future."
• NB: Bermuda-incorporated companies now include a number involved in crypto currency.
An “extraordinary” woman whose court case set a new standard for compensation of accident victims is to be remembered with a scholarship in her name. Eleanor Simmons, who died on December 21 at age 83, lost the use of her right arm in a devastating 1978 crash, but was undeterred as a single mother looking after herself and her family of five. Her funeral today at the West End will be used by her family to raise funds for an award as tribute to her fighting spirit and charitable personality. Ms Simmons, originally a traffic warden, was known to many through her service as the Government switchboard operator for 21 years. Her daughter, Deeanda Bannister, said her mother was an example of someone with “a handicap and with pain who never complained about it”. She said that with just one arm, Ms Simmons peeled potatoes, cooked lavish meals for guests, hung out washing on her line, and loved to swim. A lifelong Sandys resident, Ms Simmons kept her own house on Hog Bay Level “immaculate” and only began to need her children’s help last year. She sewed her own pillowcases, painted the house’s interior herself, and was “not a person who wanted people to feel sorry for her”. The scholarship in her memory will reflect her philanthropic spirit, Ms Bannister added. “She loved to bake sugar cookies, rolling them with one hand, and she would give them away for any charity or bake sale — she thought nothing of it. She loved to give to others through her infirmity, which we found phenomenal. We would like the scholarship to have perpetual meaning — the recipient’s criteria should be to have financial need and to have done community service.” The memorial service at Fort Scaur in Sandys at 10am will be followed by a sea burial to reflect her love of the ocean. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to the educational fund of the charity Phenomenal People, run by her daughter, Margaret Giloth. Ms Simmons had three other children: Stanley Simmons, Bryan Simmons and the late Alfred Simmons. In 1978, Ms Simmons was knocked off the road by a car as she road her motorcycle near Mangrove Bay. The limb never functioned again. The other driver was uninsured, and Ms Simmons’s 11-year fight for compensation ended at the Privy Council in 1987. The council ruled that insurers should pay less than a quarter of the $100,000 agreed damages — but it was a landmark nonetheless, according to Trevor Moniz, her lawyer. Mr Moniz, an Opposition MP, called her a “lovely, very deserving person” and said he had taken her case pro bono. Mr Moniz said: “We lost the case, but out of it the Motor Insurance Fund was created in 1990. It provides compensation for people injured in accidents where the person who caused the accident was uninsured.” Mr Moniz said Ms Simmons’s case “provided impetus to deal with this issue and bring Bermuda into modern times”.
A former senator pointed to a sense of white privilege and entitlement surrounding an attack that he suffered two summers ago. Andrew Simons was speaking yesterday after former deputy mayor of Hamilton Courtland Boyle Sr and his sons, Courtland Boyle Jr, 21, and Robert Boyle, 20, admitted unlawfully assaulting him. The three men each received a six-month conditional discharge at Magistrates’ Court. Mr Simons told The Royal Gazette: “If you have the right type of privilege in Bermuda, you often get a pass for bad behavior. To be specific, if you’re male, if you’re wealthy, if you’re white, people are more often likely to excuse drunken behavior by simply saying ‘boys will be boys’.” Courtland Boyle Sr, 50, also admitted causing $967.81 worth of damage to Mr Simons’s car. He was ordered to pay for the damage. It stemmed from an incident that took place on August 3, 2017. The court heard that Mr Simons and his wife were in their car on Boss’s Cove Road, Pembroke, at about 8.45pm. Mr Simons, a One Bermuda Alliance senator at the time, had stopped and reversed his car to allow another vehicle to pass on the road. While backing up, Mr Simons noticed Robert Boyle giving him the finger. Mr Simons told the driver of the vehicle who responded: “Yes, he probably was sticking up his middle finger.” Robert Boyle then got out of the car and reached through Mr Simons’s car window and grabbed his arm. About six passengers who were in the other vehicle exited and one of them pulled Robert Boyle away from Mr Simons. The court heard that Courtland Boyle Sr also grabbed Mr Simons’s arm and then used his hand to smash the wing mirror of Mr Simons’s car. The incident was recorded on mobile phones by Mr Simons and his wife. A video showing a portion of the incident was provided to The Royal Gazette yesterday. Mr Simons said he made the decision to record the incident “because I didn’t think people would believe what had happened”. He added: “It was so strange and it was unprovoked.” Mr Simons described the incident as “surreal”. He added: “The whole group was totally uninhibited, shirts off, aggressive. I was worried for my wife because they were trying to get in on the passenger-side door. She was upset.” Mr Simons said that he could not drive away without potentially hitting someone because his car was surrounded. He added: “I really just wanted them to calm down and ideally wait for the police.” Saul Froomkin, who represented all three Boyle family members, called the incident an “unfortunate event”. He said that the event had taken place during the Cup Match holiday weekend and that his clients “probably had more alcohol than they ought to have had”. Mr Froomkin told the court that his clients had approached Mr Simons’s car to try to grab the phone with which he was recording the incident. He said that the episode was “completely out of character” for all three men. Mr Froomkin asked magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo to consider an absolute discharge on the assault plea for all three. He added: “To have their future adversely affected by conviction would be unjust and unfair.” Mr Tokunbo described the assault as “at the lower end of the scale”. But he added: “The behavior nonetheless needs to be recognized as the kind that needs to be deterred.” Courtland Boyle Sr served as an elected councillor and alderman with the Corporation of Hamilton between 2003 and 2009. He declined to comment outside court yesterday.
A second suspect has been arrested in connection to the murder of Ronniko Burchall. A spokesman with the Bermuda Police Service said that a 24-year-old man had been taken into custody. He added: “The investigating team continues to encourage anyone with information regarding this matter to contact them, or provide the information confidentially. Officers are particularly keen to speak with anyone who may have information on the suspects, their movements or firearms. Detectives are still tracing the movements of the suspects and analyzing evidence that has come into their possession through the course of the investigation.” Police announced on Sunday that a 31-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the murder. Mr Burchall, 30, was shot as he stood outside St David’s County Cricket Club in the early hours of last Saturday morning and died in hospital the next day. Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 295-0011 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477.
A former head teacher at Saltus Grammar School has died in England. Roy Haygarth, who was 87, led Saltus between 1969 and 1979 — a crucial time in its history. Henry Ziegler, a Saltus alumnus who was the first head of the senior year created by Mr Haygarth, called him “an innovator and visionary”. Mr Ziegler, who taught at the school from 1974 to 1979, said: “He started the senior year programme, which was an example to the rest of the island. A new library went up with the senior year programme underneath. That was thanks to Roy.” Mr Haygarth also managed Saltus as the school moved from all-white into integration, Mr Ziegler added. Jon Beard, the deputy head, said Mr Haygarth kept the school on an even keel during the “tumultuous days” of its transition from an aided to private school. Mr Beard said: “He brought a new approach — it was very orderly. He was keen on academic rigor and getting the best out of students.” The new 1977 Saltus gymnasium was named after Mr Haygarth. The Haygarth Gymnasium opened in June 1979, with the outgoing head teacher in attendance. After Saltus, Mr Haygarth went on to become head of Liverpool College until he retired to Devon in 1992. Mr Beard added that Mr Haygarth “watched all the sports — I remember being quite stunned because no matter what game was on, he would be there to watch”. He said that Mr Haygarth, an English teacher, also astounded pupils with his ability to quote long passages of Shakespeare without a text. Mr Beard said he had been hired by Mr Haygarth in 1977, and that he had decided to come to Saltus based on that interview. Mr Beard added: “He was obviously a very intelligent man, with an ability to talk on many subjects and to quickly make one feel at ease. I respected him for his calm, fair manner, and an obvious desire to make Saltus a top school. He dealt with incredible changes at the school and had the respect of everyone.” Mr Haygarth, born in Cheshire in 1931, went to Ellesmere College and later studied English at University College, Oxford. He taught English at English public schools Cranleigh and Oundle School before he moved to Bermuda. After his retirement in 1992, the father-of-four went back to work as head inspector for public schools in England, and finally retired in 2000. Edmund, a son, told The Royal Gazette: “Although he did not tell me what got him into teaching, I know he genuinely believed that a teacher’s role was to find the good in each boy and make sure that it shone through, not just for the good of the boy but for the good of the community. He truly believed that good people only find fulfillment if they put the needs of others first. His deep Christian faith was the foundation stone for both his beliefs and actions.” He added: “Dad was incredibly fond of Bermuda and Saltus and proud of his involvement with and achievements at Saltus, but I can hear him scolding me as I write that, because he would say the real achievements belong to his colleagues and the boys and girls who they taught and who have gone on to be good people.” A funeral service is to be held on January 14 in Devon.
Google moved $22.7 billion through a Dutch company to Bermuda in 2017, an increase of about $4.5 billion on the previous year. The tax strategy, known as “Double Irish, Dutch Sandwich”, is legal, but has been criticized in the past as an arrangement that allows Google to reduce its foreign tax bill. Reuters reported that €19.9 billion of revenue from royalties earned outside the US was moved by the technology company through its subsidiary Google Netherlands Holdings BV to Google Ireland Holdings, which is registered in Bermuda. In a statement, Alphabet Inc’s Google said: “We pay all of the taxes due and comply with the tax laws in every country we operate in around the world. Google, like other multinational companies, pays the vast majority of its corporate income tax in its home country, and we have paid a global effective tax rate of 26 per cent over the last ten years.” Reuters noted that moving the revenue through the Netherlands to Bermuda avoided “triggering US income taxes or European withholding taxes on the funds, which represent the bulk of its overseas profits”. Under pressure from the US and European Union, Ireland is phasing out the arrangement in 2020. Reuters reported that according to documents filed at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, Google Netherlands Holdings BV paid €3.4 million in taxes in the Netherlands in 2017 on a gross profit of €13.6 million. Three years ago, a number of newspapers in Britain put Bermuda under the spotlight regarding the billions of dollars sent to the island by the internet giant. In 2016, The Sun on Sunday highlighted how Google directed billions of dollars of profits a year to the island, and noted the company’s only physical presence in Bermuda was a post office box, numbered 666, located at the General Post Office in Hamilton. The newspaper explained how Google moved money through Ireland and the Netherlands before it reached Bermuda, where Google Bermuda Unlimited and Google Ireland Holdings were registered at the address of law firm Conyers Dill and Pearman, on Church Street.
A new bus schedule has been pushed back two weeks from its promised start date of next week. The Department of Public Transportation announced yesterday that the winter 2019 schedule planned to start on Monday would now be introduced on January 21. The department said that the revised start date “will ensure that all relevant stakeholders and the general public are well informed of the scheduling change”. Roger Todd, the director of the DPT, added: “The production and dissemination of information for the public is key to this process and involves multiple entities and vendors. With due consideration for the public and the time required to properly communicate the new schedule, we are taking time to ensure this is done effectively.” The schedule will be available on the Government’s website from Monday. The DPT added that print copies of the schedule will be available at the Central Terminal in Hamilton and “other key locations” from January 14. A spokesman for the transport ministry told The Royal Gazette last month that the full schedule would be released “before the new year”. He added: “The data is currently in its raw form and will be aesthetically modified for public consumption.” The spokesman claimed that the new schedule would cost less to run than the old timetable, but could not say how much would be saved. He said: “I don’t have this figure. It will take some time to quantify.” Transport minister Zane DeSilva announced the new schedule last month. He unveiled the schedule flanked by Mr Todd and Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union.
The death of a 74-year-old woman involved in a fall at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital has been referred to the coroner. A Bermuda Hospitals Board spokeswoman confirmed that the matter had been sent to the coroner with the intention of determining the senior’s cause of death. She said: “Although a fall did occur, the coroner will determine whether it was relevant to the patient passing away. Our condolences are with the patient’s family at this sad time. We cannot share further information through the media, but the family will be fully apprised of all findings and the coroner’s decision.” A police spokesman confirmed that the Bermuda Police Service are investigating the death on December 26. He added: “The investigation is under the purview of the coroner and a report will be issued to the coroner upon completion.”
A hospital staff member was fired after a report into an alleged assault on an elderly patient, according to the Bermuda Hospitals Board. A BHB spokeswoman confirmed that the matter was investigated last year and properly reported. The spokeswoman said: “Bermuda Hospitals Board made a report of an incident between a staff member and patient in November to the Ageing and Disability Services department as is BHB’s statutory obligation. An internal investigation was also completed and the employee terminated. BHB deeply apologized to the CCU resident and his family.” No other details about the incident were provided. However, the spokeswoman said: “We remain greatly saddened that this happened to someone under our care and will do all that is necessary to safeguard the care and safety of our residents.”
X-ray service has resumed at an East End hospital, it was announced this afternoon. The Bermuda Hospitals Board said that the service had resumed after repairs had been completed to equipment at the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre in St David’s. Members of the public had been directed to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital during the closure.
Two American students were shown leniency by a magistrate yesterday after they said they could not pay a $4,000 fine for drugs offences. Magistrates’ Court heard that first-time visitors Kyla Beckford and her boyfriend, Berlino Felix, both 22, were arrested at the airport when they arrived for a holiday on December 29. The couple’s luggage was picked for a search and the couple told customs officers they had cannabis in their possession. The search found 27 gummies, which were later found to contain THC, the active ingredient of cannabis, as well as about 20 grams of cannabis. The pair, who had planned to stay until January 4, said the drugs were for personal use. The couple, from Boston, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to two charges each of importation of a controlled drug. The court heard Beckford and Felix could be fined $1,000 each on both counts — a total of $4,000. Beckford and Felix, who fought back tears in court, told Magistrate Tyrone Chin they could not afford the fines. Beckford said her parents could not help and she was due to return to college later this month and risked being trapped on the island. She added: “I am deeply apologetic. This is a lesson to me.” Felix said: “I am deeply sorry; this won’t ever happen again.” Beckford added that she would use her experience to ensure other young people did not make the same mistake. The court heard that it was the pair’s first time abroad and that they were not aware of the laws of Bermuda. The court also heard that marijuana is legal in Massachusetts. Mr Chin told the pair: “We have to have something to deter others.” But he cut the fines in half, a reduction of $2,000, and ordered Felix and Beckford to pay $1,000 each before they left the island. Mr Chin said: “I think you have learnt a lesson as young adults.”
A Bermudian lawyer who got up on stage and performed with his ballet-dancing daughter after she was hit by stage fright has been named 2018 Father of Year by a top-rated American television program. Marc Daniels shot to international fame after a video of his pirouettes with two-year-old Isabella went viral. He was given the award by news magazine Inside Edition, which attracts more than four million viewers a show and featured a clip of their duet. However, Mr Daniels played down the award and insisted he had been trying only to be a good father. He said: “I am just a father who loves his children and got caught in the act of expressing that love.” He added: “Six months on we are still receiving messages from people all around the world expressing their gratitude for viewing this clip, which has been so surreal and humbling.” Mr Daniels became an internet sensation after Isabella, who was performing with older sister Giada, 4, at a show at the In Motion School of Dance in Hamilton in July last year, froze on stage. The barrister, still carrying his youngest daughter, Suri, aged seven months, took to the stage and coached the little girl through her moves. Mr Daniels said: “I think it has actually exceeded one hundred million views on different platforms combined, based on the data that we have seen, which we think is amazing, especially if it helps to promote being an engaging and present father. And it gives a platform to promote our island home.” Mr Daniels added: “It has basically made the rounds on every major US network and various news publications in Europe, Latin America and Asia. He said he was told a churchman in the US had written a sermon based on the video clip and a musician from the French Riviera sent the family a song based on the video. Mr Daniels added: “We have actually received a few requests for the video to be used in commercials, primarily in Europe thus far, but we have not accepted any requests as yet, despite a couple of pretty big names — primarily because I am still holding out for a request for it to be used in a Super Bowl commercial.” Inside Edition highlighted the video in a year-in-review segment on December 31 about the stories that touched their hearts during the year. Mr Daniels said he jumped on stage and began to dance alongside the girls to calm Isabella after she became scared. The video quickly went viral after being put on the In Motion Facebook page and has since been viewed more than a million times on The Royal Gazette’s YouTube channel alone. Mr Daniels said he had stopped keeping track of the video, but his wife, Kimmie, had tracked its international spread. He added that the video also brought him fame at home — and could spark a second career. Mr Daniels explained: “My four-year-old, Giada, suggested that I should write a ‘Daderina’ book with pretty illustrations so that she can share the story at school with her friends, and Bella can perform the moves at home. Hearing this truly inspired me and it has encouraged me to embark on that path, which has been more rewarding than I could have imagined thus far.” He added that Isabella had recovered from her attack of stage fright and continued to dance with Giada at In Motion.
An activist delivered a stark message to police on how to beat gang crime yesterday. Gina Spence, the founder of community arts organisation Gina Spence Productions, said hand-wringing had to be replaced with action. She added: “I have been around for the last 20 years. I try to be optimistic about community meetings, strategies — we’ve probably done it all.” However, Ms Spence said: “Meetings are only fruitful if we have a real, tangible plan. I have yet to see either of our governments come in and do something drastically different. You also need bold leadership. You need a voice and a leader who is unapologetic. I find that we tiptoe ... at the end of the day, I look at a place like 42nd Street in New York, which was notorious. That’s the street that had prostitution and drugs. A bold leader stepped in and said ‘you know what? We’re going to bring change to this community’.” Ms Spence was speaking as she met Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley to discuss the island’s epidemic of gang-related violence only days after Ronniko Burchall, 30, died when he was shot outside a sports club in St David’s. Mr Corbishley said he remained optimistic that a reduction in firearms on the street, such as last month’s seizure of three guns with a stockpile of drugs, delivered “massive benefits”. However, he admitted: “The problem with gangs is it’s all about territory and turf. We know there’s tension and we start getting intelligence around the threat between one gang and another.” Mr Corbishley asked Ms Spence’s advice on how to break down the “wall of silence that often exists in communities”. He said that police continued to look for a man linked to Mr Burchall’s shooting outside St David’s County Cricket Club. Mr Corbishley added: “He knows who he is. His family knows. A lot of people know he is being sought. I have a duty of care to him, in regards to protecting him.” He also asked how the police could win the co-operation of embattled communities and reduce tension between gangs. Ms Spence said: “It’s all about trust. “It’s very difficult to go in, even with good intentions, and try to give support. There’s definitely a line drawn between police and persons involved in the selling of drugs.” She added that Gina Spence Productions had “the trust and the street credit”. Ms Spence said: “The police have come a long way. I remember when there was unimaginable tension. People wanted answers; they wanted police to fix it now. Bermuda didn’t know what to do with homicide.” She told Mr Corbishley: “I’m not going to lie. When people go into protection mode, they don’t see you as the person that they want to share that truth with.” Mr Corbishley, who promised to work at grassroots level with communities when he took over as Commissioner last June, said he had often been told of zero tolerance crackdowns such as Operation Cleansweep, the anti-street drug dealer drive in 1997 that brought scores of arrests island wide. He told Ms Spence: “That’s a top-down approach. As soon as I turn that off, it all comes back. What you’re describing is that you grow it from the community upwards.” Ms Spence added: “We see them as gang members and groups — if you ask them, they say ‘that’s my family’.” She added that police faced an uphill struggle in communities after a killing, but that gang-related drug dealers had ways to win support in neighborhoods. Ms Spence said: “There are certain individuals who carry a huge amount of support and respect in their communities as a person that is involved in drugs. They underwrite costs for football games, they give back to communities. We may look at it and say that’s crazy, but they do. They see that person as a person that helps in spite of the lifestyle they live, so it’s a very fine line between what we know is the law and what is the reality in a community.”
Taxpayers’ money was poured into the failed Sandys 360 sports centre even after its management stopped payment of social insurance contributions and land tax, The Royal Gazette can reveal. Gitanjali Gutierrez, the information commissioner, scrutinized documents that showed cash owed by the centre in a review of the Ministry of Finance’s refusal to release the records under the public access to information law. Ms Gutierrez said in a decision due to be made public today: “Weighty public interest considerations in this case favour disclosure of the social insurance contribution and land tax amounts owed.” She ordered the finance ministry to release the records by February 7. Ms Gutierrez said: “Public accountability concerning public spending and decision-making is a primary purpose set out in section 2 of the Pati Act. The information commissioner agrees with the position that in light of the substantial amount of public funding involved, disclosure would increase the accountability of the ministry. It would show that public funding was still being given to Sandys 360 when the Government was aware that the company and the Sandys 360 board of trustees were in arrears for social insurance contributions and land tax payments. Disclosure of the actual amounts will allow the public to make informed assessments of the spending decisions made with public funds.” At least $5.3 million of public money was given to Sandys 360 between 2007 and 2013. That included a duplicate payment of $807,000 made “in error” which was never paid back to the Government. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were also donated by the corporate sector and the public. The sports centre closed at the end of 2013 after it ran out of money. The Royal Gazette submitted a Pati request to the Ministry of Finance in February 2016 that asked for a list of Sandys 360’s debts to the Government, including a total figure and details of any attempts to recover the money. The ministry confirmed it was still owed the $807,000 and revealed that Sandys 360 was “in debt to Government for payroll taxes, land tax and social insurance contributions”. But it refused to release the amounts owed and insisted the information was exempt under Pati. A review of the decision by Anthony Manders, the financial secretary, agreed. He wrote: “It has been a longstanding policy of the ministry to not publicly disclose amounts owed to Government by entities.” Ms Gutierrez ruled that the Government could withhold information on payroll tax arrears because of a secrecy provision in the Taxes Management Act 1976. But the information commissioner said there was no reason to withhold the records on land tax and social insurance contributions. Ms Gutierrez wrote: “The ministry suggests that information that has been previously held secret as a matter of government custom, rather than as a legislative requirement, should remain secret even after the enactment of the Pati Act. The information commissioner cannot accept this claim. As part of the good governance reforms in the public service to promote transparency and improve accountability, information previously protected as a matter of policy or practice within government is precisely the type of information to which the Pati Act now provides the public access, unless it properly falls within a listed exemption.” The information commissioner said that “contrary to the assertion of a longstanding confidentiality policy concerning social insurance contributions”, the Government had encouraged people to check if their employers were up to date on payments with the Department of Social Insurance. She pointed out that the public had asked for the aggregate amount of these individual figures for Sandys 360. Ms Gutierrez highlighted a claim by the finance ministry that it held no records on its attempts to recover the funds owed and revealed that she had reviewed relevant documents, which had been withheld from The Royal Gazette. She quashed the ministry’s decision in relation to its attempts to recover the money owed and ordered it to issue a “new, accurate and complete” response to that part of the Pati request, also by February 7. A government spokeswoman said last night that it had seen Ms Gutierrez’s decision and would “take the appropriate actions as required by the Pati Act”.
It remains unclear when parents can expect to see progress report cards for public school pupils, the Minister of Education said today. Diallo Rabain said that discussions would begin “this week” between Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, Department of Education officers, head teachers and representatives with the Bermuda Union of Teachers “in determining revisions to the roll-out of grades and report cards”. He added: “An announcement will be made very soon on when those report cards will be released.” Mr Rabain was speaking a day after teachers took part in training on standards-based grading after a request from the Bermuda Union of Teachers. Teachers and the Government have been locked in conflict over a range of problems, including standards-based grading, which the teaching union said had added stress to already overburdened staff. Ms Richards yesterday apologized to teachers for “insufficient support, training and communication, and for the impact that it has had on principals, teachers and schools”.
An anti-violence campaigner has called for a fresh approach to combat gang culture. Desmond Crockwell, chief editor of anti-violence magazine Visionz, said the Government had to do more to beat gun violence. He added: “I believe they are not utilizing the resources that they have access to in an effective manner. I believe that they now know that the epidemic is larger than they thought it was initially and is spreading faster than they thought it would.” Mr Crockwell said: “There are a lot of valuable resources in Bermuda that can help reshape the way our violent young think.” He was speaking yesterday after the island’s latest murder. Ronniko Burchall, 30, was shot and seriously injured as he stood outside St David’s County Cricket Club in the early hours of Saturday morning and died in hospital on Sunday afternoon. Mr Crockwell said that his response to the shooting was “one of frustration, hurt and disappointment”. He added: “I think the feeling is the same among many.” Mr Crockwell said the idea that members of the public should “all work with government” was a problem. He explained: “One must understand that this is a full-time commitment — and one cannot volunteer full time. The current government has made it clear that the funds are not available to build a major full-time infrastructure, which should include many anti-violence professionals and experienced community workers. Therefore, it makes more sense for us to work individually and do what we can in the areas that we have an impact in, and collaborate as often as we can.” Mr Crockwell maintained the answer to violence was “not a one-man, one-ministry solution”, and that nine gang reduction professionals were needed — one for each parish. He said: “I don’t think our community would have a problem with the funds that are put up, as long as we see tangible results and evidence.” Mr Crockwell added that other organisations should be provided with additional resources. He said: “It is no coincidence that when funding became less available to these organisations, the epidemic started to spread out of control.” Mr Burchall’s murder was the latest in a string of gun incidents in recent weeks. Paul Johnson, 33, was shot dead on Rambling Lane, Pembroke, on December 10. A 21-year-old man was later arrested in connection with the incident. Mr Crockwell said that people had to show that they cared about the young people involved in the violence. He added: “We must speak life to our young people. Words are powerful. Many Bermudians can spread a story without a second thought, and criticize a person, family or situation in a heartbeat. But they are not so quick to physically assist a person in need. In the end, the community raised our children and will continue to raise our children, so we do and can have an impact on their lives.” Gina Spence, a community activist and founder of Gina Spence Productions, said that violence has become a part of Bermuda’s culture. She added: “This level of antisocial behavior has been a couple of decades in the making, and in my opinion there is no quick fix.” She said that gun violence appeared to have become an accepted part of life. “I believe this has also fed into the lack of overall community response. The rise of gun violence in Bermuda should have been met with a national response similar to a state of emergency. I say emergency because the violence is impacting families across the island. Ironically, we used terms such as crisis when describing the loss of life from road traffic accidents, but will not use such terms when our young men are killed in an alarming upsurge in gang violence. The sad thing is that we trot out the same responses in the wake of more than 35 murders.” She said that the recent spate of shootings had happened in residential areas, near where families live. Ms Spence highlighted that government statistics showed there were 400 youngsters at risk of gang involvement. But Ms Spence questioned whether enough was done to prevent young people from destructive gang culture. “Only time will tell.”
Reinsurance prices remained stable in January 1 policy renewals, even in the face of above average insured losses last year — as abundant market capital generally offset upward pricing pressures. Natural catastrophe losses for the first half of last year were $20 billion, which was below the ten-year average, however the final six months were above average, bringing the full year losses to more than $70 billion. Reinsurance broker JLT Re estimated losses in the property-catastrophe market at more than $80 billion, making last year the fourth most costly catastrophe year in real terms. When 2018’s losses are added to the $150 billion of losses in 2017, they create the most costly two-year period for catastrophe losses — although when adjusted for inflation are nowhere near the losses seen in 2004-2005 period. The subdued pricing environment was reflected in JLT Re’s global property-catastrophe reinsurance index, which fell 1.2 per cent at the start of the year. Since 2012, the single year-on-year uptick came in 2018 when the index improved 4.8 per cent. Ed Hochberg, chief executive officer of JLT Re in North America, said: “Despite another active catastrophe year in the United States, property-catastrophe rate changes were modest.” Meanwhile, Willis Re’s 1st Review noted that there were different experiences for accounts with peak peril exposure and poor loss records, and those with good loss records and non-peak exposures. James Kent, global CEO of Willis Re, the reinsurance advisory business of Willis Towers Watson, said: “The quality of the client counterparty is a significant factor in risk selection by many reinsurers. Notably, European property-catastrophe renewals that benefit both from good loss records and a disciplined early renewal process have been able to achieve some risk-adjusted rate reductions, and similarly in the US, reinsurers’ support for the ‘preferred’ clients is evident in relatively muted renewal pricing on non-loss-impacted business.” Mr Kent noted that some carriers have been pulling out of unprofitable lines or are seeking aggressive rate improvements on under-performing lines. There is also pressure on the insurance-linked securities market after high returns in the wake of 2017’s losses did not materialise. In addition, more capital is trapped from “loss creep” and further substantial losses were generated by the secondary peril of wildfires last year. “Some ILS products, most noticeably aggregate catastrophe and retro covers, have performed poorly for investors, thereby resulting in less available capital — although this is balanced by other ILS products that have continued to deliver acceptable returns,” Mr Kent said in his summary. “The variation of individual ILS funds’ exposures to different product types is starting to impact the ability of many funds to attract new investors. However, as outlined in our recent Willis Towers Watson Global ILS survey, this is likely to be a challenge that the industry overcomes, as the long-term interest in ILS, particularly from pension fund managers seeking diversification, remains robust.” Elsewhere JLT Re, in its look at renewal outcomes, said capacity constraints in the retrocession market were a dominant factor. Bradley Maltese, JLT Re’s deputy CEO of UK and Europe, said: “After another year of significant losses and locked capital in the retrocession market, rates for loss-affected catastrophe layers were generally up by between 10 per cent and 20 per cent on a risk-adjusted basis, with aggregate covers falling towards the upper end of this range. Many clean occurrence retrocession programmes were renewed flat to up 10 per cent. Global and Lloyd’s direct and facultative catastrophe covers were less affected by 2018 losses and, after strong increases at last year’s 1 January renewal, rate changes in 2019 were typically down 2.5 per cent to down 7.5 per cent on a risk-adjusted basis.”
NCB Financial Group, the company that owns a majority stake in Clarien Bank, has made a bid to take a controlling interest in Caribbean region insurer Guardian Holdings Ltd. Controlled by Michael Lee-Chin, the Jamaican-born billionaire, NCB has a 50.1 per cent stake in the Bermudian bank. Mr Lee-Chin’s Portland Private Equity owns an additional 17.9 per cent stake in Clarien. On Monday, NCB’s subsidiary NCB Global Holdings, made an offer to all Guardian shareholders to buy up to 32.01 per cent of the company. The $2.79 per share offer is worth more than $207 million in aggregate. NCB already owns 29.99 per cent of Guardian, which is based in Trinidad and Tobago and offers life, health, property and casualty insurance, as well as pensions and asset management in 21 countries across the English and Dutch Caribbean. If the bid is successful, NCB would own a 62 per cent controlling interest in Guardian. The offer is conditional upon Guardian shareholders tendering sufficient shares to give NCB a more than 50.01 per cent stake and on regulatory approvals for the deal. The offer period is scheduled to close on February 7, 2019.
Ten people were arrested on suspicion of impaired driving between last Friday night and New Year’s Day, police revealed yesterday. A police spokesman said “more than half” of the road users arrested were caught at roadside breath test checkpoints. He added: “The main objectives of the road sobriety checkpoints are to help make the roads safer and ultimately save lives. “While there are no road sobriety checkpoints scheduled for this coming weekend, members of the public are urged not to drive or ride under the influence, as police officers conducting their regular patrols will be on the lookout for any offences, including impaired driving.”
A man injured in a New Year’s Day boat crash that killed one person remains in hospital, police said this morning. The 30-year-old Smith’s resident — believed to be the operator of the boat involved in the crash — was recovering today on a general ward at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. Police said yesterday that the man was being treated in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. They also announced he had been arrested on suspicion of operating the vessel while impaired. Adrian Hassell, 24, was killed in the crash that happened in the West End. A police spokesman said officers wanted to speak to anyone who may have seen or spoken to Mr Hassell on New Year’s Eve or to the other passengers on the boat. He added that Mr Hassell was known to have been in Hamilton bars the Pickled Onion and Dog House on New Year’s Eve. Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 717-2077.
A 24-year-old man killed in a boat crash was a hard worker with a bright future, friends and former employers said yesterday. Cameron Patkos, a close friend who now lives in Toronto, said Adrian Hassell, who was from Sandys, was his oldest friend. Mr Patkos added: “When I heard the news, I froze. He was supposed to visit me a month ago but a change in travel plans meant he couldn’t make it.” Mr Patkos was speaking after Mr Hassell, one of three people on the boat, died in the early hours of New Year’s Day after the craft hit rocks off the West End. Mr Patkos, 23, met Mr Hassell when they were aged four and were neighbours. He said: “It doesn’t feel real to lose someone you have memories with since you were a kid.” Mr Patkos said Mr Hassell, who worked at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, was a determined and energetic young man with a strong work ethic. He added: “Most of all he was always positive and always looking for a laugh.” Tim Morrison, general manger of the Hamilton Princess, said hotel staff were devastated by Mr Hassell’s death. He added: “While Adrian only recently became a member of the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club family, he made an immediate impact and his passing will be felt for a long time.” Mr Morrison said Mr Hassell made friends with co-workers easily and was popular with guests. He added: “He was a warm and personable ambassador for the hotel and for Bermuda, who went the extra mile to create special experiences for guests.” Steve Smith, the owner and operator of Rising Son Cruises, employed Mr Hassell as a crew member in 2018. He said that news of the tragic death had left him in “complete shock and denial”. Mr Smith said that Mr Hassell, nicknamed “Schooner”, had fitted in well with other Rising Son staff. He added: “Not only did he have a great work ethic but he always did it with a smile and that funny giggle. It was an absolute pleasure having him on our team. This loss will weigh heavy on the Rising Son team for a long time and we will never forget about him.” Kevin Dallas, chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the organisation was deeply saddened to hear of Mr Hassell’s death. Mr Hassell worked as an intern at the tourism quango from June 2015 until August 2016. Mr Dallas said: “He put maximum effort into whatever task was put before him and easily earned the respect of his more experienced co-workers. His work was so consistently of a high quality he was asked back to work with the team on more than one occasion and each time he made impactful contributions to the Bermuda tourism comeback.” Mr Dallas added that Mr Hassell could have gone on to become a leader in the industry. He said: “We are disappointed to know that more people in our community did not have the chance to benefit from this young man’s bright light.” Anne Hyde, the executive director of Keep Bermuda Beautiful, worked with Mr Hassell on a litter clean-up and bus shelter painting near Horseshoe Bay Beach in 2016. She said: “It is incredibly sad that someone young and full of promise is gone from us so suddenly.” Wayne Caines, the national security minister, also expressed his condolences to Mr Hassell’s family and friends. He added: “Whether by land or on the waters, we must use care and caution when operating all vehicles.” Mr Hassell was awarded a degree in Tourism and Environment from Brock University in Ontario last year. Police said yesterday that the 30-year-old pilot of the boat, who was also injured in the crash, had been arrested on suspicion of operating the vessel while impaired. He was released on bail. The man, from Smith’s, was “stable” yesterday in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s intensive care unit. A police spokesman said officers wanted to speak to anyone who may have seen or spoken to Mr Hassell on New Year’s Eve or to the other passengers on the boat. He added that Mr Hassell was known to have been in Hamilton bars the Pickled Onion and Dog House on New Year’s Eve.
A veteran’s widow left immobile after a fall has become the first to benefit from the Bermuda Legion’s Poppy Appeal in November. The legion bought a bed hoist, which was installed yesterday by Lighthouse Medical Supplies, after the elderly woman was bedridden having been injured in the fall. Carol Everson, case worker for the Bermuda Legion, said the woman, who has not been named, hoped to repay the veterans’ charity by volunteering when she was back on her feet. Ms Everson added: “We are very happy to have been able to help — without this piece of equipment she could not turn or be lifted.” Ms Everson told The Royal Gazette that the Legion had raised more than $23,000 from its 2018 appeal. Last year marked the centenary of the end of the First World War and Bermudian poppies were redesigned with a leaf to mark the anniversary. Ms Everson said the number of poppy volunteers was down on previous years, but thanked Lieutenant-Colonel David Gibbons, a former commanding officer of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, for his help with the appeal. Colonel Gibbons donated the ground floor of Thistle House in Hamilton for the appeal’s fundraising and poppy distribution centre from November 1 to 11. Ms Everson said: “It was brilliant help and a beautiful location — we had a base on Burnaby Street for distribution and for the general public to walk in.” She added: “We work all year round, not just in November, helping veterans with their welfare benefits and urgent needs. Our other duty is the remembrance and respect of the veterans from Bermuda who took part in two world conflicts. Their courage and dedication will never be forgotten.” The legion spent about $5,000 on Christmas presents for 90 veterans or veterans’ widows in need and also bought Christmas hampers. Ms Everson said the Legion had also put aside cash in the hope they could organize another dementia caregivers’ course in the spring. The workshops help caregivers of people with dementia to qualify for cash help from the Government. Previous courses, held in 2015 and 2017, were both oversubscribed. Money raised from last year’s appeal also enabled the charity to distribute leaflets to explain the benefits available to veterans and their families and produce a booklet on the history of the Bermudians who served in the First World War. Ms Everson thanked the Royal Bermuda Regiment for its preparation and service of the Remembrance Day lunch for veterans and John Kane, the World Rugby Classic president, for allowing the legion to collect at the event. Other sponsors included supermarkets Lindo’s and MarketPlace, hardware store Gorham’s, wholesaler Butterfield & Vallis, professional services firm PwC, the Bermuda Sailors’ Home, and the Kiwanis Club of St George’s.
• To volunteer or donate to the Bermuda Legion, e-mail email@example.com or call 293-3975. Donations can be also be made to HSBC bank account 010 731 354 001
Bermuda’s economy is facing challenges on multiple fronts as it heads into 2019. A potent combination of increasing taxes, growing external threats to the island’s international business sector from the likes of the European Union, consolidation in the insurance sector, an ageing population, ever-increasing healthcare costs and dwindling business confidence suggest a difficult year ahead. However, there are also bright spots such as tourism’s growth trend and an influx of new fintech companies. Last year, the island probably fell into recession, under the oft-used definition of two consecutive quarters of negative growth in real gross domestic product. So far, we have only first-quarter figures, which showed a modest 0.4 per cent decline in GDP, adjusted for inflation, year over year. It would be a surprise if the second quarter managed to record economic growth, given that it will face a tough comparison against the April-through-June period of 2017, when the island was benefiting from the substantial stimulus of the America’s Cup. Retail sales — described by Bob Richards, the former finance minister, as a better barometer of local economic performance than GDP — would certainly suggest a second-quarter slump. In real terms, retail sales fell for a seventh consecutive month in September. In the second-quarter months, the falls in sales volume were particularly steep: 7.9 per cent, 4.4 per cent and 10 per cent in April, May and June, respectively. Recession is a word that shakes confidence throughout the community, sparks fears about job security and causes reluctance to spend and invest. The “R” word is also a powerful tool for politicians to use against their opponents. Last month Craig Cannonier, the opposition One Bermuda Alliance leader, said the island is heading into another recession and urged the Government to act to stimulate growth. David Burt, the Premier, did much the same in opposition in May 2017, when GDP figures showed shrinkage in the third and fourth quarters of 2016. Even if a recession is confirmed, it should be viewed in perspective. Two quarters of shrinkage, especially when compared against a period of vigorous growth inspired by probably the biggest sporting event the island has ever staged, does not mean Bermuda is plunging into an economic abyss. Officials at the Ministry of Finance did after all predict growth of 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent for 2018 in the National Economic Report last February. The third and fourth quarters of the year will have a better chance of recording year-over-year growth, given that they will be compared with the post-America’s Cup period. Comparing this year’s numbers with 2016 would arguably present a fairer picture of the economy’s state of health. Retail sales on island for the first nine months of 2016 amounted to $845.9 million, compared to 2018’s $854.4 million, representing an increase of $8.5 million, or 1 per cent, over the two-year period, but a decline when inflation is taken into account. Tourism offers grounds for optimism with 2018 set to be the fifth consecutive year of growth in total visitor numbers. Air arrivals are on course to top even those of 2017, with 267,024 through the first 11 months of the year. Growth in vacation rentals, through portals like Airbnb, has helped to boost the market and to attract a younger crowd. During the first 11 months of 2016, rentals made up 11.3 per cent of accommodations used by visitors, up from only 7.2 per cent for the same period in 2016. While far from its 1980s heyday, when annual air arrivals always topped 400,000, tourism has increased in its value to the economy. In 2017, the industry paid out $460 million in wages, and contributed $162 million, or 16 per cent, of government revenue, according to the Department of Statistics. There are reasons to hope for further growth in the years to come with the new airport terminal at LF Wade International Airport, due to open in 2020, creating potential for extra airlift, while the new 97-room St Regis hotel in St George’s is due to open its doors in the spring of 2021. Fintech also has some potential. The Government’s creation of a digital-asset business regulatory framework in 2018 has attracted a number of start-ups. Mr Burt said last month that 52 fintech companies had incorporated. The collapse in the dollar value of cryptocurrencies last year has cooled off global enthusiasm for initial coin offerings. The Coinschedule website logged 1,071 ICOs in 2018. Of those, 689 were in the first half of the year. The peak month was May with 144 ICOs, while in December there were only 35. Local banks’ reluctance to service the start-ups is also stalling the sector’s development. Many of the newcomers have pledged to create jobs, but how many will materialise remains to be seen. A wave of mergers continues to sweep through the international insurance and reinsurance sector and despite this, and the erosion of the island’s tax advantage from US tax reform, the island is holding its own as a global risk transfer hub. Bermuda’s status as the world leader in the booming insurance-linked securities market underpins its continuing relevance. Confidence, among business leaders and consumers alike, is an essential ingredient for economic prosperity. Thus a survey last year that found a slump in business confidence, amid concerns about the shrinking working population and likely tax increases in the pipeline, does not bode well for growth in 2019. With baby-boomers leaving the workforce at an increasing rate, the Government projects that one in four people will be 65 or over by 2026. With fewer people paying in and more people drawing out, the pension and healthcare systems will face added strains. John Wight, the CEO of insurer BF&M, has described healthcare costs as “a ticking time bomb”. Given that employers are the people predominantly funding the healthcare system, this outlook will curb enthusiasm for hiring. Except perhaps some businesses, like rest homes and healthcare service providers, who can benefit from the “silver tsunami” market. Some business leaders see immigration reform as key in addressing the demographic challenge. Progress on this front — although always a challenging issue in the context of Bermuda politics — could boost business confidence. The Government also plans to increase its tax take to balance its books and start to chip away at its $2.6 billion debt mountain. The Tax Reform Commission’s proposals include a general services tax, a progressive tax on commercial and residential rentals and a withholding tax on overseas services that are provided locally, with the potential to reap an extra $147 million in government revenues. This year, some of those proposals are likely to become reality. Politicians will face the unenviable task of balancing the need for Government to get its finances in order with the economic damage that would be caused by a taxation overreach. At least part of the added tax cost will be passed onto the consumer. Rising prices fuel inflation, which in turn detracts from real GDP growth. Adding to the challenges is the Economic Substance Act 2018, which comes into effect this year. A response to the European Union’s demand for action against tax-avoiding entities lacking physical presence, employees or revenue-generating activities on the island, it is likely to impact about 11,000 companies on the Bermuda register, Wayne Furbert, the junior finance minister, said in the House of Assembly last month. Corporate service providers like law firms would be most affected by the loss of such entities. The hope, as expressed by Mr Furbert, is that some firms will react by raising their level of activity on island to meet the substance criteria. “Just imagine, if half of those companies were to put boots on the ground, what impact would it have on our economy?” Mr Furbert said. “First of all, our GDP would rise significantly.” Bermuda can only hope it works out that way.
The Department of Education apologized to teachers today for “insufficient support, training and communication” about the introduction of standards-based grading. Kalmar Richards, Commissioner of Education, told teachers: “The decision to become a standards-based education system was a decision made for children. It was a decision in support of placing greater emphasis on quality teaching and fair and reliable grading practices; it was a decision to transform education for Bermuda’s children. That decision, although a decision for children, requires site-based execution of standards-based education practices and principles by principals, teachers and other school staff.” Ms Richards added: “When we assess where we are at this very moment with the implementation of standards-based education, we, the Department of Education, recognize that we need to provide more communication, more training and more support for principals and teachers in order to place you in a position to execute SBG practices with fidelity and confidence. We apologise for insufficient support, training and communication and for the impact that it has had on principals, teachers and schools.” The comments came as the Department hosted a workshop for teachers on standards-based grading in response to a request from the Bermuda Union of Teachers. A Government spokeswoman said the training is intended to help develop a “common understanding” of the system, share information about the way forward and communicate what support will be made available to educators. The Government has been at conflict with teachers over a range of issues, including the introduction of standards-based grading, which the union claimed has caused anxiety for teachers. Diallo Rabain, Minister of Education, said teachers had “refused” to enter grades, but the BUT said they had not been properly trained in the new system.
The policeman on duty at Government House the night the Governor and his aide-de-camp were murdered in 1973 has died. Franklyn DeAllie, known as Frank, who was 74, was also one of the founding members of British soul band Hot Chocolate, but left just as they hit the big time when he married and moved from London to Bermuda. Mr DeAllie joined the police in 1972, served for 27 years and retired as a detective in 1999. But Mr DeAllie, originally from Grenada, was for ever linked to the murders on the night of March 10, 1973, when Sir Richard Sharples, the Governor, and Captain Hugh Sayers, his Welsh Guards ADC, were shot dead. He was only one year into his career with the Bermuda Police Service when he was posted to security duty at Government House on the night of the killings. The double murder as Sir Richard and Captain Sayers strolled in the Government House gardens shocked the world and sparked a national emergency. Mr DeAllie, the only officer on duty at Government House, was at his desk just inside the main door when the men were shot, along with Horsa, the Governor’s Great Dane. Mr DeAllie raised the alarm before he ran to the scene. Sir Richard died in the young officer’s arms and Captain Sayers was already dead. Ian DeAllie, his son, a retired police sergeant who served alongside his father for many years, said his father rarely spoke of the incident. He added: “He was the only one left — he came home after the briefing and we were told as a family to move house and live with other people.” Mr DeAllie was the only witness and the family were ordered to sleep on the floor in case they were targeted. In 1976, Erskine “Buck” Burrows was convicted of the murders. Co-accused Larry Tacklyn, was acquitted, but both men were found guilty and sentenced to death for the killing of Victor Rego and Mark Doe in the Shopping Centre murders of April 1973. The executions of Burrows and Tacklyn in 1977 sparked the worst riots in Bermuda’s history. Mr DeAllie, who was a guitarist with Hot Chocolate, continued to play after he left the band and was known to entertain his police colleagues. Hot Chocolate formed in 1968 and Mr DeAllie was replaced two years later by Harvey Hinsley. Ian said: “They were founded in my grandmother’s basement council flat in Stockwell, South London. My father did a lot of touring with them in Europe in the early days. He met my mother, Winifred, who was training to be a nurse and was from Bermuda. He fell in love with her and left the group. It was a life he loved, but he gave it up to be a policeman and he was happy doing that job.” Father and son solved an armed robbery at the Southampton Princess together when they both worked in the Criminal Investigation Department and were given a joint commendation for their work. Ian said his father was “humble, outgoing and friendly to everybody that he came across”. He added: “He had a serious heart attack in the service. Prior to that, his most enjoyable work was with Western CID.” Among the guests who spoke at his retirement party was the now Dame Pamela Gordon-Banks, a former United Bermuda Party premier. Ian said: “He had that kind of draw — he always had time for the community.” Mr DeAllie’s son and his wife, Fabiola, cared for both his parents as their health declined. Mr DeAllie, who suffered a serious stroke two years ago, died last Sunday. Mr DeAllie moved to Britain from Grenada as a young man and became popular figure in the West Indian community after he moved to Bermuda. Cal Smith, a former chief inspector, said Mr DeAllie was “a policeman’s policeman”. Mr Smith said: “When I joined in 1984, Frank was well established in the CID and his teaching style was in his smile and sense of humour. Frank wanted to teach people to do CID work and also how to be decent and generous to people, as well as how to dress — all the things you don’t get in the classroom. He told us no matter what people say to you, you just keep on with a smile. Frank always had a nice word about everybody.” Mr Smith added that Mr DeAllie was a mentor to young officers at a time when “the service was quite different to today”. He said: “Frank was well respected and loved in the community. He was someone to look up to, that you aspired to be like in the CID. He would teach you an abundance of things. More so, he taught you how to be a human being.”
The Bermuda Education Network will hold a Chinese new year celebration at its Outstanding Teacher Awards ceremony next month. Becky Ausenda, the executive director of the BEN, said: “Following the success of our previous events, we are again pulling out all the stops to deliver the best Chinese new year celebration the island has ever seen, including a repeat performance of amazing traditional Chinese entertainment with a rare performance by a traditional Chinese face-changer.” Nominations for the teacher award can be entered by all educators on the BEN’s website on bermudaeducationnetwork.com. The third annual event will take place at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club on February 8 at 7pm. Traditional Chinese face-changer Yang Shuwang will form part of the entertainment. Proceeds from the event go towards the BEN’s work with public schools. Tickets, available from bdatix.bm, include welcome drinks and a buffet and wine. A silent auction of prizes donated by hotels, artists, photographers, chefs and others will be held, followed by dancing.
A by-election will be held in St George next month after the death of sitting councillor Phillip Anderson. Mr Anderson, who was elected a councillor for the Corporation of St George in 2012, died last month, aged 58. A notice in the Official Gazette, published on December 31, said the by-election would be held on February 5. Nomination day will be January 22 and voter registration for residents of the municipality must be competed by Monday at 5pm. Municipal resident applications can be completed at the Parliamentary Registry Office in Craig Appin House on Wesley Street, Hamilton, or online at elections.gov.bm.
Police have identified the 24-year-old man killed in a boating accident this week. And the Bermuda Police Service said this afternoon that the 30-year-old operator of the vessel had been arrested on suspicion of being impaired at the helm. Adrian Hassell was seriously injured after the private powerboat he was on hit rocks near Lefroy House, in Sandys, early on New Year’s Day. A spokesman said that Mr Hassell was rushed to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in a unresponsive state where he was pronounced dead. He added that the driver of the boat and a 25-year-old woman were also injured and were taken to hospital. The spokesman said that the man was this morning listed in stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit, while the woman had been treated and released. He said that both are believed to live in Smith’s. The spokesman added: “The powerboat operator was arrested on suspicion of piloting or being at the helm of a boat while impaired and later placed on police bail.” He said that the 18-foot boat had been impounded. Police are interested in speaking with anyone who may have seen or spoken to Mr Hassell on New Year’s Eve — particularly at Front Street establishments Dog House or Pickled Onion — as well as anyone who may have seen or spoken to the friends he was with. Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 717-2077.
The town of St George’s welcomed the start of 2019 with music, drinks and the annual onion drop. Hundreds of people gathered in the Olde Towne for the occasion and enjoyed Christmas lights, live entertainment and food from vendors. Kris Darrell said her family had moved to the area recently, and she was happy to soak up the sights and festive atmosphere. Ms Darrell said: “It’s not my first time in St George’s for New Year’s, but it is my first in a long time. I like the history, the community. It’s a close-knit community, and I think you feel it up here more than most places.” Peter White and his family decided to go to St George’s because they wanted a family-friendly celebration. He said: “Most of the other events I heard about for the new year seemed to focus on the drinking side of things, which is fun, but when you’re a family, you have to do something different. My daughter had fun on the bouncy castle, she had some sweets. I think she had a great time. This is going to be the first time we let her stay up until midnight and this seemed like a fun option.” Mr White added: “She’s already a bit exhausted. I’m not sure she’s going to make it until the actual onion drop.” Down the road from Kings Square, Wahoo’s restaurant was packed. The restaurant used a machine to blow fake snow from an upstairs window on to Water Street to add to the festive atmosphere. Ian Birch, a local resident, was pleased to see the town so busy and everyone enjoying themselves. He said: “It’s great to see so many people in St George’s. Sometimes it’s just dead, but this is something that brings it to life. We love it.” Mr Birch added: “This is a great village. Everything is within two minutes reach and this is just the epitome of the community.” The number of people gathered in the square and along the bridge to Ordnance Island increased as the midnight onion drop drew closer. Nadanja Bailey, the host for the evening, led the countdown. Florence Eve said the music was a little loud, but she enjoyed the chance to meet friends and celebrate. She said: “I think it’s nice to see all of these people coming out and having a good time. 2018 was a difficult year for a lot of people, so I hope 2019 can bring people a little bit of joy.”
Bermuda welcomed its first baby of 2019 in the early hours of this morning. The baby girl, who weighed in at a healthy 7lbs 8oz, was born in the King Edward VII Hospital’s maternity unit at 4.02am. The proud mom, however, did not wish to be identified or photographed.
A man died after a boat hit the rocks in the early hours of today. Police said the crash happened after two men and a women went on an excursion in an 18ft vessel. It came to police’s attention after one of the group knocked on the door at Lefroy House, Sandys, asking for medical assistance at about 4.40am. A spokesman said: “Details are still unclear but it appears that three persons, two males and one female, went on an excursion on an 18ft vessel and hit the rocks. One of the males was unresponsive and subsequently taken to the hospital via ambulance where he later was pronounced dead. The other two individuals did not appear to have any life-threatening injuries. No further information will be given until the family of the deceased has been told.”
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January 17, 2019
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