Ex-Minister quizzed in court over paid testimony and potential conflict with regulator role
Former Minister of Economy, Trade, Industry & Community Development Patrice Minors, now a regulatory official with the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA), is charging Butterfield Trust Bermuda Ltd (BTB) $150 an hour for giving evidence in an $100 million court case the trust company is defending in Bermuda’s commercial courts, and also for the time spent preparing for it.
Mrs Minors admitted in court yesterday, while giving evidence in the case of Stiftung Salle Modulable & Rutli Stiftung verus Butterfield Trust (Bermuda) Ltd, that she is being compensated. She was answering questions about her central role in terminating a potential 120 million Swiss franc donation by a multi-billion dollar trust, the Art 1 Trust, to plan and construct a major new opera house in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Mrs Minors had been the assistant vice-president of trust services at BTB and she was the principal administrator with responsibility for the Art 1 Trust at the time the decision had been taken to withdraw the Trust’s support for the project.
A former Minister in the previous Progressive Labour Party Government, Mrs Minors now holds the position of principal of the banking, trust and investment division of the Bermuda Monetary Authority. She was also questioned about the propriety of accepting payment from a trust administered by BTB when the role of her section of the BMA includes regulating that same trust company.
A letter from the BMA’s senior legal counsel TJ Galloway, to managing director of BTB Martin Pollock, presented in evidence, stated: “This is to confirm that the Authority is aware that Ms Minors, a principal of the banking, trust and investment division of the Authority is assisting Butterfield Trust (Bermuda) Limited in the above captioned litigation matter and has pursuant to a consultancy agreement been paid for her services in preparing for her testimony. The Authority has no objection to Ms Minors participation in this matter.”
Chief Justice Ian Kawaley, who is hearing the case, asked Mrs Minors if she ever had any concerns about the propriety of accepting payment for the time she has spent preparing her evidence and giving it.
Mrs Minors, who responded “No,” explained that she was aware that the protectors of the trust were also being remunerated. She said she was “far less conflicted” than these persons, who she said play a role in the trust relationship. She said another witness was also compensated.
And Mark Cran QC, defending the role of BTB in the case, told the Chief Justice: “We see nothing irregular about it.”
Alexander Layton QC opened the questioning on the subject of Mrs Minors remuneration by asking her: “Have you been paid for preparing your testimony and giving evidence?”
Mrs Minors responded: “I will submit a billing,” and said she would be submitting a ‘time bill’ to the BTB.
When Mr Layton asked her much she was being paid, she responded “$150 an hour”, and said that the payment was time related.
Mr Layton also asked her if she was “not uncomfortable” exercising her responsibilities in her role as principal of the banking, trust and investment division of the BMA in regard to regulating BTB. Mrs Minors said she was part of a team. She said she would step aside, and her team would conduct the regulatory activities, led by the BMA director or acting director.
She told the court: “All licensed institutions are regulated by the BMA,” and continued: “I am not solely responsible — I have a team.”
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