Premier told me of casino bribe offer — Bean

  • United: Premier Craig Cannonier and Opposition Leader Marc Bean shake hands during the National Gathering for Prayer at City Hall (Photo by Glenn Tucker)

    United: Premier Craig Cannonier and Opposition Leader Marc Bean shake hands during the National Gathering for Prayer at City Hall (Photo by Glenn Tucker)

Premier Craig Cannonier revealed he was in line to receive a bribe from a developer in exchange for a gaming licence, it is alleged.

And he also confided to Opposition leader Marc Bean that his business interests were “in severe financial difficulty” and that, once the payment was made, he “would be free from these rich, white UBP boys”, according to Mr Bean.

Mr Bean made the claims in the House of Assembly this afternoon, saying that Mr Cannonier revealed details of the bribe during a meeting between the two leaders last September.

Mr Bean said that at an initial meeting with the Premier, Mr Cannonier proposed that both parties drop a shared promise to hold a gaming referendum and hold a joint press conference “to provide a rationale for the decision”.

Mr Bean said he put that proposal to his party but it was rejected by members who maintained that a referendum was still necessary.

He informed the Premier of his party’s decision at a second meeting with Mr Cannonier, during which “four main points became the focus of our conversation”.

According to Mr Bean, the Premier divulged that his various business interests “were in severe financial difficulty, and despite his ties to the business community, he had been unable to secure financial relief”’.

The second point the Premier raised, was that he had “a high level of distrust” for colleagues who had joined the One Bermuda Alliance from the disbanded United Bermuda Party.

The third point the two men discussed, according to Mr Bean, was a proposal by the Opposition leader for the two parties to form a coalition Government — a proposal that Mr Cannonier turned down.

“In rejecting our offer of a coalition Government, the Premier revealed that there is a developer who is willing to pay him and his two Cabinet colleagues — the Learned Minister of Tourism and Attorney General — upfront for a casino license, and from that point he will be free from, and I quote, ‘ ... these rich, white, UBP boys’,” Mr Bean told Parliamentarians.

“I have just revealed to you, the other members of this House on both sides, and the Bermudian voter, the real reason as to why this casino gaming issue, the disrespect shown to you as Speaker, and the theft of the voters democratic right, has and is occurring,” Mr Bean added.

“Even after the revelation of a taxpayer funded political advisory document, which has revealed their plans and intentions to mislead the people of Bermuda, their course towards ill-repute has not altered.

“Unlike the misrepresentation presented to the public by our Honourable Premier and his two Ministers, this is a true account of past and current actions.”

Mr Bean claimed that Government had previously presented “fictions” in explaining how it eventually backtracked on its promise to hold a gaming referendum.

The One Bermuda Alliance pledged before its December, 2012 general election victory that it would let the people vote on whether to legalise casino gaming. Throughout its first year in office, it maintained that it was “committed” to the referendum.

But in December, Mr Cannonier reversed that promise, claiming there were concerns that the Opposition would attempt to undermine the process. Justifying that U-turn in the House of Assembly on December 13, Mr Cannonier alleged that, in a telephone conversation, Mr Bean had suggested the Opposition planned to sabotage the ballot through a boycott.

Mr Bean was off Island that day but addressed Parliament this afternoon in order to “refute those fictions”.

“As a result of the misrepresentation of private conversation between the Premier and myself, I am now obligated to reveal the greater details of our conversations, and to do so in the light of truth,” Mr Bean said.

He said that no further talks were held on the issue of a referendum until early December when Opposition Tourism spokesman Wayne Furbert met with Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell “for the singular purpose of encouraging the OBA to amend their recently tabled Referendum Bill to reflect a neutral question”.

“Subsequently, MP Furbert reported to me that Minister Crockwell was never informed by his Premier of the September meetings, proposal, and PLP Party position,” Mr Bean said.

According to the Opposition leader, the Premier then telephoned him a few days later and “instantly suggested that we jointly avoid the gaming referendum”.

“At the conclusion of the phone call, I clearly repeated the PLP position that the question should be amended and once done, the PLP will join the OBA in a joint committee that will lay out the vision for casino gambling in Bermuda,” Mr Bean said.

On Friday, December 13, the Premier carried over the referendum bill and at a subsequent press conference, misled the public by accusing the PLP of threatening to boycott the referendum, and plotting the demise of Bermuda.

“This was the rationale provided to justify their actions. Actions which have now been revealed were concocted and orchestrated by a paid consultant.

“These are the events as they occurred, and unlike the fables being spread by the Premier, this is the truth.”

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