Brown investigation exceeds $6m
More than $6 million has been spent on investigations into Ewart Brown and an overseas hospital, the House of Assembly heard yesterday.
Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, vowed that the inquiry into the former premier would continue, despite suggestions from Progressive Labour Party MPs that it should end.
Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, told MPs that the total cost to taxpayers of investigations into Dr Brown and the Lahey Hospital and Medical Centre in Boston had reached $6,096,437.03. Mr Caines added that it was time to decide whether to end the investigation or put it before the courts.
Mr Caines said: “We have the opportunity to see the cost to the taxpayer.
“It’s now an opportunity for us to put this case to the Bar or allow this matter to take a natural course, and go another direction.”
Dr Brown said last night: “Clearly, this saga has more to do with a political vendetta than it has to do with diagnostic scans or political corruption.”
The former premier added: “When our legal fees are added to the totals provided by the Bermuda Police Service, and the creative accounting, the total figure is closer to $10 million.
“Therefore, we expect them to ‘discover’ something in order to justify their fishing expedition. We are prepared.”
The figures were revealed in response to parliamentary questions from Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker.
He said later in the House: “This investigation of Dr Brown, you know what I think it started from? When the Uighurs came here, Dr Brown and the Colonel Burch brought them in here.”
Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, then the Minister of Home Affairs, helped Dr Brown to secretly bring the four Uighur men from a US detention centre in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to Bermuda in June 2009.
Mr Burgess said last night: “We took in four people, just four people. We have a humanitarian obligation to take in folks like that.”
He claimed that “because Government House were so incensed” by Dr Brown and Colonel Burch’s actions, that, he guessed, a decision was made to “make his life a living hell”.
Mr Burgess asked earlier for the total cost of the legal fees paid in Bermuda and overseas, and the names of the law firms involved in the case. Mr Caines said that local firm Marshal Diel&Myers had been paid $862,220 as part of the investigation into Dr Brown. He added that California-based law firm Cooley LLP had been paid $1,102,784 for the portion of the investigation focused on Lahey.
Mr Caines said that a legal consultant hired by former Attorney-General Trevor Moniz had received “just over $300,000”.
Mr Burgess asked Mr Caines if the work done by the local firm could have been completed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers. Mr Caines said: “I cannot speak to that.”
Mr Corbishley later told The Royal Gazette that it would be inappropriate to reveal specific details related to the status of the investigation.
He added: “I fully recognise the concern that members of the public, and other parties, may have in regards to the amount of money spent, but it is important to set this in context.”
Mr Corbishley said that staffing costs, to date, stood at about $3.5 million, or about $500,000 per year since the investigation was launched.
He added: “I consider this is not disproportionate for an investigation of this complexity.”
Mr Corbishley said: “It is in the public’s interest that when serious allegations are made, then an investigation to establish the actual facts must take place, irrespective of the time that this may take, and without fear or favour. “Therefore, the BPS will continue to investigate these matters, thoroughly and expeditiously, in consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions team.”
Police launched an investigation after allegations of corruption against Dr Brown were made by disgraced financier David Bolden in 2011.
A civil lawsuit was filed by the Government against Lahey in 2017, accusing Dr Brown of profiting from unneeded diagnostic tests at his medical practices. The allegations have been denied by Dr Brown, and he has not been charged with any offence. He has called the investigation a political witch-hunt and repeatedly called for it to be ended.
Mr Caines provided a breakdown of the costs associated with the police aspects of the investigation.
• For man hours in Bermuda and overseas: $4,688,184
• For airline and ground transportation: $64,345
• For accommodation in Bermuda and overseas: $80,900
The Gazette requested clarification on the tally presented to the House by Mr Caines.
It was not provided by press time yesterday.
Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition, asked Mr Caines yesterday why the question on legal fees was directed to him and not the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
Mr Caines said that he could not say why the question had been posed to him.
He added: “I answered the question, as required.”
Michael Dunkley, a One Bermuda Alliance backbencher, asked how long the investigation had been going.
Mr Caines said the investigation had started seven years ago.
Michael Scott, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher, asked Mr Caines if he thought money spent as part of the investigation could have been better put to help improve Bermuda’s public schools.
Mr Caines did not reply to the question.
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