AG looks at Southside 'irregularities'
The Auditor General is considering “alleged irregularities” in relation to a low-cost public housing scheme at Southside.
Heather Jacobs Matthews was asked to look into financial matters in relation to the Orange Hole development by Kevin Bean-Walls, a director of Bermuda Composite Construction (BCC), one of the companies involved in building the units.
He claims Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) overpaid BCC for work it did at Orange Hole, alleging his company built only 14 units but got paid for 20.
Other firms involved in the project included Pro-Active, the firm sacked by Government from the Berkeley senior school development in 2004, and Bermuda Building Services.
Mrs Matthews told The Royal Gazette: “I can confirm that I have received information with respect to alleged irregularities in connection with a public housing scheme. This matter is currently under consideration.”
The affordable housing scheme, which was built a decade ago and paid for with public funds, came under scrutiny in the Senate yesterday for the second time in recent months.
Opposition Senator Toni Daniels has posed a series of questions to Junior Public Works Minister Vince Ingham about the scheme and yesterday she received responses to her latest queries.
She asked Sen Ingham who signed the contracts between BCC and BHC for the housing units.
He replied: “We do not have sight of the original documents and therefore cannot confirm with a degree of certainty who signed the contracts.”
The Opposition senator's second question was about Pro-Active; she asked how much it was paid by BHC for its work as subcontractor.
Sen Ingham responded: “Pro-Active Management was paid no funds for the work done in their role as subcontractors for the units.”
The last query was about whether BHC “remunerated” BCC for payments made to Pro-Active during construction and, if it did, how much it paid BCC.
The written answer given was: “As far as can be ascertained, the Bermuda Housing Corporation did not remunerate Bermuda Composite Construction for payments made to Pro-Active Management during construction at Orange Hole.”
In March, in response to earlier questions put by Sen Daniels, Government said BCC built 17 of the homes at Orange Hole and was paid $5.19 million and Bermuda Building Services built three units and was paid almost $896,000.
Sen Ingham, in his written answers, said the original budgeted cost for 20 units was $5.17 million.
Mr Bean-Walls, 51, was one of the directors of BCC, along with his business partner Leon Williams, current Health Minister and Island Construction chief Zane DeSilva, and builder Arthur Pitcher.
In 2007, an official complaint was made to police alleging that more than 50 cheques from BCC's account were forged.
The cheques, totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars, all bore the names of Southampton East Central MP Mr DeSilva and Mr Williams, but the latter denied signing them or having any knowledge of them.
Asked about that inquiry, Assistant Police Commissioner David Mirfield said on March 27 this year: “An investigation was conducted by the Financial Crime Unit at the time and a file was sent to the DPP for review. Following that review, the DPP advised that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.”