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Boldens sentenced to community service

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David and Antoinette Bolden have each been sentenced to 200 hours of community service for lying to the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) about their company finances.

They are unlikely to start the unpaid voluntary work any time soon, as the sentence has been put on hold until a planned appeal against their convictions is heard.

Chief Justice Richard Ground told the husband and wife, who ran an array of financial services firms, that they could have damaged Bermuda's reputation.

He said the sentence “will mark the wrongness of what you did; it will constitute public denunciation of your conduct and I hope it will bring home to you the error of your ways. It will also offer you a real opportunity to atone in a meaningful way”.

However, he said: “The period for doing this should not start until the appeal is heard.”

The Boldens stood trial at Supreme Court earlier this summer accused of stealing $272,000 from an exempt company they part-owned called Emerald Capital International, and laundering the stolen funds. They were found not guilty of those charges.

They jury convicted them, however, of misleading the BMA over the financial position of their Emerald Financial Group of companies, which was licensed by the regulator.

The Boldens made false claims to the regulator between September 28 and October 28 2008, in answer to BMA inquiries about the Emerald Group's liquidity and capitalisation.

The case centred around letters to the BMA where the Boldens stated they had $500,000 in unencumbered funds available to them, when that was not true.

The Official Receiver was called in summer 2009 after the Bermuda Monetary Authority took enforcement action to begin winding up the Emerald Group of Companies.

The maximum sentence the Boldens could have received for their crime was four years in jail, a $100,000 fine, or both. Prosecutor Susan Mulligan urged the judge to jail the pair for up to 18 months.

“They remain unrepentant and do not take responsibility for this crime that they have been found guilty of, according to the pre-sentence reports,” she said.

Mr Bolden told court officials who compiled a report on him that “I feel regret that it happened” but “I find it hard to accept culpability”.

He insisted there had never been any intention of lying to the BMA.

Mrs Bolden also remained “adamant” she is innocent, according to the prosecutor, and complained her marriage and friendships have been strained as a result of the court case.

Neither of them took up an offer to address the judge before he sentenced them.

Ms Mulligan said the court needed to send a strong message of “deterrence and denunciation” since the good reputation of Bermuda's financial services industry is important to the well-being of the economy as a whole.

Defence lawyer Andrew Martin asked the judge to give the Boldens a conditional discharge, which would mean no conviction recorded against their names. He said the BMA did not place any reliance on the information the Boldens provided, no one suffered any loss as a result, and it had no impact on investor confidence or the financial markets.

During the trial, the Boldens said they had joint earnings of around $25,000 per month in the lead-up to the date of the crime. Now, due to the winding-up of their companies, they are under a court injunction preventing them selling their property. The only capital asset they have is their home in Hamilton Parish, and they are “heavily” in debt relating to their legal bills, according to Mr Martin.

He added: “It would be inappropriate for Your Lordship to blight the careers of both Mr and Mrs Bolden and to impose a sentence that would prevent them pursuing their careers.”–He asked the judge to consider that “this whole affair has been a highly publicised matter. It has brought all kinds of unwanted publicity and has impacted on Mr and Mrs Bolden in a very profound way”.

Mr Martin also pointed to their strong religious beliefs, and the low chance of them reoffending.

Meting out the sentence, the Chief Justice told the Boldens: “I accept that no one suffered any loss, nor does the BMA appear to have been misled, which is a tribute to its perspicacity, not to your honesty.”

He added: “I accept that you have lost a lot, both in reputational terms and in real financial terms.”

For this reason, he said a fine would not be appropriate. However, he rejected Mr Martin's suggestion that a conditional discharge would suffice.

“The regulation of the financial sector is a serious business, important to Bermuda's economic well-being, and I consider that lying to regulators in the performance of their duties potentially undermines the system,” he said.

The couple joined supporters in a circle of prayer outside the courtroom after the hearing, with one man in their group telling God: “We want to thank you for those defence lawyers who work so diligently”.

Greeting news of the sentence, a BMA spokeswoman said: “The Authority views any deliberate instance of a licensed entity providing misleading information to the BMA as extremely serious. Such actions undermine the ultimate protection of investors, the credibility of our markets and Bermuda's hard-earned reputation as a well-regulated financial jurisdiction.

“Where such instances come to our attention, we will continue to refer the matter to the police for investigation and assist in any prosecution as far as possible. A range of proposed enhancements to the Authority's enforcement powers, currently under development, also address such matters further.”

David Bolden after his sentenceing for misleading the Bermuda Monetary Authority.
Appeal: Antoinette and David Bolden leave Supreme Court during their trial in June. (Photo by Glenn Tucker)
Investigation is ongoing

By Elizabeth Roberts

A police probe resulting from David Bolden's corruption claims against former Premier Ewart Brown continues, according to a police spokesman.

Mr Bolden claimed under oath during his trial that a Government Minister told him the Premier wanted ten percent of his wireless technology company, plus Dr Brown's wife Wanda Henton Brown placed on the firm's board.

He did not name the Government Minister in question.

Bolden also alleged the former Premier asked for a 60 percent share of the commission he earned from work on Bermuda's public pension funds.

The claims prompted Dr Brown to launch a failed attempt to get an injunction against them being published. He also threatened to launch a private prosecution against Mr Bolden for alleged perjury.

Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva later announced that police were looking into the issue.

Asked for an update after yesterday's sentencing hearing, a police spokesman replied: “The investigation into those allegations is ongoing.”

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Published August 20, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 20, 2011 at 8:21 am)

Boldens sentenced to community service

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