Government is to review a multimillion dollar lawsuit against Boston hospital Lahey clinic in what is to be the new administration’s first major test.
Observers will be keenly watching the outcome of the review as the lawsuit makes unproven allegations against former Premier Ewart Brown, an ardent supporter of the governing Progressive Labour Party.
Opposition, the PLP criticized the action as well as another targeting cabinet minister Zane DeSilva and others, brought by the former administration, as a political vendetta.
Government is suing DeSilva and other former trustees of the Port Royal Golf Club for alleged self dealing over that facility’s renovation some ten years ago.
Attorney General Kathy Simmons is reviewing the Lahey suit as is the case with all matters faced by an incoming administration.
The review comes as Bermuda prepares for a Spring 2018 assessment of its capacity to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
Premier Burt announced the assessment at a press conference today, saying he was certain that Bermuda would get a passing grade.
Trevor Moniz, who as Attorney General spearheaded the litigation, warned today that not proceeding with the lawsuits could be risky for Bermuda.
Now shadow AG after the PLP won a landslide victory in the July 18 general election, Moniz says that the suits were based on “compelling evidence” of criminal activity.
The Bermuda Government was the clear victim of past crimes and abuses, and it stands to gain millions of dollars in damages,” he said in a statement this afternoon.
No sensible Government committed to combating corruption would drop these lawsuits and other investigations. Given the new Premier’s stated desire for collaboration, I remain open to assisting the new Government and Attorney General on this and various other files.
Bermuda has committed itself to the highest global standards in the fight against corruption. As AG, I brought into force robust criminal procedure reforms and the Bribery Act, which is due to come into force on 1 September 2017.
The former OBA Government also started the process of signing up to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. However, combating political corruption is not just a question of putting in place new structures and processes; we actually need to deal with political corruption in a firm and determined manner.
As a jurisdiction, Bermuda is due to be assessed by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force on its adherence to global standards. Dropping corruption lawsuits in the face of compelling evidence would jeopardize Bermuda’s assessment thereby giving it a black-eye in the international community.”
In February, Government launched a lawsuit against the Boston hospital claiming that a 20 year business relationship with former Premier Brown was a racketeering scheme that cost Bermuda millions.
Dr Brown dismissed the development as a continuation of what he says is a politically motivated campaign against him, while the Massachusetts hospital dismissed the claims as “baseless”.
But the hospital’s motion to have the case dismissed was rejected by the court in Boston.
The court also dismissed an attempt by a number of PLP legislators – including Burt and DeSilva – to intervene in the case on behalf of Lahey and Dr Brown.
Dr Brown is not a party to the lawsuit.
Premier Burt did not respond, by our publication deadline, to our queries seeking to know how he and his cabinet planned on resolving the conflicts of interest involved in making a final decision on the litigation.
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