Jan 31 2017 transcript
Kurron Shares deal back in spotlight
A controversial multimillion-dollar healthcare contract axed by former premier Paula Cox is back in the spotlight in the Government’s lawsuit against the Lahey Clinic.
Lawyers involved in the civil case are examining the deal that Kurron Shares of America landed with the Bermuda Hospitals Board during the premiership of Ewart Brown, who is named as Lahey’s co-conspirator in the lawsuit.
The Royal Gazette understands that before the change in government last July, the One Bermuda Alliance administration had considered filing a similar lawsuit against Kurron, based on e-mails between the Maryland-incorporated company and Dr Brown.
The Cabinet is believed to have decided against the move before the General Election, which the Progressive Labour Party won with a massive majority.
It is not known if the new PLP administration plans to take legal action in connection with Kurron.
Attorney-General Kathy Lynn Simmons did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.
Kurron, led by American businessman Corbett Price, won a contract with the Bermuda Hospitals Board in May 2007.
The company got the business despite opposition allegations of cronyism levelled against Dr Brown, who was then the premier.
The contract was terminated 18 months early by Ms Cox, after she succeeded Dr Brown as premier.
The deal is now being re-examined because of claims in the Government’s lawsuit for unspecified damages against Lahey for an alleged conspiracy with Dr Brown to defraud the public purse.
A key allegation made by the Government is that Lahey bribed Dr Brown, when he was premier, in order to win Bermuda contracts and other work.
It is alleged “rigging” of the bidding system took place, which prevented the island from getting the best services or best prices.
Dr Brown and Lahey deny the allegations.
The lawsuit also alleged: “In 2007, Dr Brown secured a $13.5 million, five-year contract to develop a long-term healthcare strategy for the island for an American-based healthcare management and consulting company known as Kurron Shares of America.”
It said Mr Price was a former business associate of Dr Brown’s wife and claimed Dr Brown “knew he could control Mr Price and get him to work with Lahey”.
The claim added: “As part of the project, various contracts would be awarded to medical partners, including Lahey, to reimagine and revamp King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
“Dr Brown ensured that Kurron obtained this contract by silencing opponents to Kurron’s selection and removing them from the Bermuda Hospitals Board.”
It is alleged that Dr Brown “facilitated” the appointment to BHB of Wendell Hollis, “his personal lawyer and confidante, who was also Kurron’s lawyer, thus paving the way for the award to Kurron”.
The complaint includes an e-mail allegedly sent from Dr Brown to a Lahey executive, which told her to let Kurron bid for the hospital contract with the promise that “Lahey’s interests will be protected”.
Dr Brown told the Lahey executive in another e-mail that Kurron had won the contract before the news became public knowledge.
The Government’s claim said: “Dr Brown followed through on his promise that Lahey would receive work from Kurron. In July 2007, he publicly announced a new partnership between KEMH and Lahey.”
The Kurron contract was discussed at a court hearing last month in Boston.
Judge Indira Talwani heard a motion from Lahey to have the Government’s complaint against it dismissed. The judge has yet to deliver a judgment on the motion.
Elizabeth Trafton, lawyer for the Government, referred to the Kurron contract as she outlined Lahey’s alleged “rigging of the bidding process” for contracts.
Terence Lynam, counsel for Lahey, said: “The allegation is simply that Dr Brown told Lahey that Kurron won the contract. And that became a matter of public knowledge. I don’t see how that is a corrupt act.”
He added: “There’s no allegation that Lahey benefited in any way from the fact that Kurron got a contract. That’s one allegation that they make, but it doesn’t go anywhere.”
Mr Lynam said: “It’s really important ... in a case involving bribery under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to allege some official acts with some particularity.
“What is it that Dr Brown did in his capacity as a government official, as opposed to his capacity as a practising physician?”
The lawyer added: “Lahey never got anything from a contract that Kurron got. It never led to Lahey getting anything.”
Dr Brown told The Royal Gazette this week: “I do not have, and have never had, a business relationship with Kurron.
“The owner, Corbett Price, has been a friend for many years. I met him after he began working for BHB.”
Mr Hollis, who served as deputy chairman of the BHB between 2007 and 2012, told The Royal Gazette last year he “barely knew Ewart Brown” when he was appointed deputy chairman.
He added that he “didn’t become his lawyer until long after my five years was up on the BHB”.
Mr Hollis represented Dr Brown in July 2009, when the PLP politician threatened legal action against Kim Swan, then the Opposition leader.
Mr Hollis said in an e-mail yesterday the matters involved were about ten years old.
He wrote: “I am not interested in getting into a ‘who said what to whom when’ debate about matters which took place so long ago and for which memories are now fading.”
Mr Price could not be contacted for comment.
• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.
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