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Telemaque defends failure to tender contract

Marc Telemaque, the former Cabinet Secretary

The contract to build two satellite emission testing centres was not put out to public tender despite Cabinet mandating it should be, the Commission of Inquiry heard yesterday.

The tribunal was also told that Bermuda Emissions Control Limited, which was chosen to provide the service, awarded the sole contract to build them to Correia Construction, a firm that was a 30 per cent shareholder in BECL.

Yesterday, Marc Telemaque, the former permanent secretary for the Department of Tourism and Transport, and Cabinet Secretary, gave evidence on the third day of the commission’s public hearings. He accepted that the contract had not been put out to public tender but said that Cabinet’s 2005 call for a public tender for the project was contradictory and inconsistent with a resolution passed by Cabinet in 2003 as well as the “global approach to the project”.

Mr Telemaque conceded it “would have been prudent” to seek clarification with Cabinet on the matter at the time.

Asked by Narinder Hargun, the commission’s lawyer, what action he took to ensure that BECL complied with the decision of Cabinet in 2005, Mr Telemaque said: “This is ten years ago. I don’t recall any actions taken in that regard.

“It’s useful to understand that even that portion of the conclusion is incongruous with what was the overall proposal.

“One of the pieces that appears to be missing from the consideration of this entire matter is what is referred to in the Cabinet conclusion as Annex 1, and that contains a complete package which was a design, build and arrangement for the entire project, of which the satellite testing facilities were a part.

“There needs to be some context around this conclusion because by 2005 the ministry was then Tourism and Transport, the government had experienced a change in administration so there were significant changes at the Cabinet table.

“Two years had passed since the original approval for the entire project which was being pursued by all the ministries. Cabinet’s agreement in 2005 is somewhat contradictory as that is exactly what was being done by others elsewhere as part of the wider project previously approved.”

Mr Telemaque maintained that it was not just his view that the 2005 direction was “incongruous” with the 2003 mandate.

Mr Hargun asked: “Did you or colleagues think given there was ambiguity between the earlier 2003 directive from Cabinet and 2005, which called for an open tender, you should go back to Cabinet and ask them to clarify.”

Mr Telemaque replied: “I accepted some years ago with hindsight that it would have been prudent to return and seek clarification.”

Pressed further by chairman Sir Anthony Evans about who made the decision that there would not be an open tender process, Mr Telemaque said: “I can not point to it being the decision at any one moment of any one individual.”

Mr Telemaque is the second witness to be questioned by Mr Hargun and the panel itself, comprising Sir Anthony, Fiona Luck, Kumi Bradshaw and John Barritt.

The tribunal is probing the misuse of public funds between the years 2009 and 2012, as identified by Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews in a report last year

Mr Hargun questioned Mr Telemaque about the “inherent conflict of interest” outlined previously by the Auditor-General in the relationship between BECL and Correia Construction. He asked the civil servant: “Was the ministry or you aware that BECL was awarding a contract to Correia Construction which was a 30 per cent shareholder in that company at the time?” Mr Telemaque replied: “I don’t recall being aware of that at the time.”

Mr Hargun then asked: “Was the ministry aware that Mr Corriea was a director of BECL?” Mr Telemaque responded: “I don’t recall being aware of that.”

In the interest of treating the Commission of Inquiry much like continuing court proceedings, The Royal Gazette has taken the decision to disable comments. This is done for the protection legally of both the newspaper and our readers