Police investigate Bolden allegations
A police investigation has been launched into corruption claims made in Supreme Court against former Premier Ewart Brown.
Commissioner of Police Michael DeSilva confirmed late yesterday afternoon that detectives had “commenced inquiries to determine whether any criminal offences have been committed”.
Businessman David Bolden stated under oath last week that Dr Brown tried to get his wife Wanda Henton Brown on the board of a private firm pitching for government business and to get himself a personal stake in the company.
Mr Bolden claimed a Government Minister told him the Premier wanted ten percent of his wireless technology company and for Ms Henton Brown to be on the firm's board.
Financier Mr Bolden also alleged the former Premier had earlier asked for a 60 percent share of the commission he earned from work on Bermuda's public pension funds.
Dr Brown denies the accusations and has described them as “outrageous” and “a total fabrication”.
Mr DeSilva responded to a question from The Royal Gazette about the claims with this statement: “The Bermuda Police Service is aware of the allegations and, accordingly, we have commenced inquiries to determine whether any criminal offences have been committed.”
A statement released by Premier Paula Cox's spokeswoman on Tuesday, after The Royal Gazette first reported Mr Bolden's testimony, said: “It is important that allegations of this type are investigated by the appropriate authorities to determine if there are any indications of impropriety.”
Acting Governor David Arkley said: “We will consider these allegations with the appropriate authorities.”
Opposition Leader John Barritt described Mr Bolden's allegations yesterday as “extremely serious”.
“They raise questions about the conduct of the Government of Bermuda that must be answered,” he said.
“The allegations must be subject to an immediate and thorough police investigation. Every reasonable and right-thinking person would expect that.
“Until the allegations are addressed, Bermuda's international reputation will suffer and we will endure another episode when the integrity of Bermuda's political leaders is open to question.”
Shadow Attorney General Trevor Moniz added: “These allegations, together with other questions, including matters being investigated by the Auditor General, raise serious questions about possible systemic corruption at the highest levels of the Bermuda Government.”
United Bermuda Party Leader Kim Swan said: “The comments by Mr David Bolden under oath in a court of law about former Premier Dr Ewart Brown are startling and serious.”
He said he agreed with the statement released on behalf of Ms Cox.
Mr Bolden and wife Antoinette were cleared by a jury on Tuesday of 18 counts of theft and money laundering. They were convicted of one offence of misleading Bermuda Monetary Authority and bailed pending sentence.
The allegations about Dr Brown were made by Mr Bolden on June 8 in front of Chief Justice Richard Ground but in the absence of the jury.
Since the allegations were not made in front of the jury, The Royal Gazette could not report them until the trial finished.
Dr Brown tried to prevent publication beyond the end of the trial but his bid was rejected by Mr Justice Ground on Tuesday afternoon.
One of the lawyers acting for Dr Brown was Mark Pettingill, a One Bermuda Alliance MP and Shadow Public Works and Housing Minister.
Mr Barritt said yesterday: “I was surprised to learn Mr Pettingill was acting in this case. On the other hand, I recognise that we are part-time Members of Parliament and that he is an attorney practising his profession as he is entitled to do.”
Mr Swan said: “Former Premier Dr Brown is also well served hiring the capable legislator Mr Mark Pettingill, MP of the OBA, as his counsel, who coincidentally also sits for one of the Opposition parties in Parliament.”
A spokesman for the Progressive Labour Party yesterday said: “This information is tied to legal matters which are still before the courts.
“However, we would expect that any allegations are investigated by the relevant authorities.”
Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews said: "I am keeping a watching brief on the matter. I cannot comment further as the matter is still in the courts."
Director of Public Prosecutions Rory Field did not respond to a request for comment by press time.