Airport: no evidence of ‘criminal activity’

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  • LF Wade International (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    LF Wade International (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Despite initial opposition from the Bermuda Government, the Commission of Inquiry pressed ahead to look into parts of the airport development project.

The panel focused on whether Government had secured the appropriate waiver from Financial Instructions to allow them not to tender the project.

In finding no evidence of “possible criminal activity” the Commission said the airport project showed how effective the office of Accountant-General “can be, and should be”.

Its report commended Accountant-General Curtis Stovell for his response to Government’s request for a waiver in September 2014 in which he provided Financial Secretary Anthony Manders with a detailed memorandum outlining the relevant sections of Financial Instructions and the precise terms of the waiver.

But the Commission found that Mr Manders had failed to make clear that the waiver he sought for Canadian Crown Corporation would extend to approval of the whole project including the selection of Aecon as contractor.

Mr Stovell appeared before the Commission and told the panel that the waiver in the memorandum was restricted to “the agreement with CCC, not for any further contracts entered into by Government, say for example with a contractor.”

However, Mr Manders considered the Accountant-General’s waiver was sufficient for the project to move ahead and that no further waiver was needed for the selection of a contractor.

The Commission in its report confirmed that it was for the Accountant-General to determine on what basis a waiver should be issued.

In looking at the airport project, the Commission also noted that there appeared to be “no express provision or provisions in Financial Instructions that address proposed public-private partnerships”.

The report states: “The Commission also learnt that there are still instances where the current Accountant-General considers that his office is still without sufficient resources to undertake some of the work his department should be doing.

“If oversight is going to be effective, it needs to be contemporaneous, and resources should be made available as needed.

“Reviews, and special audits and commissions of inquiry have far less value when the horse has long since left the stable.”

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