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Inquiry’s fresh subpoena to BECL

The Commission of Inquiry yesterday issued a fresh subpoena to Bermuda Emissions Control Ltd after the two entities clashed in Supreme Court over the validity of the initial summons.

Chief Justice Ian Kawaley advised the action after conceding that the original subpoena's requirement, for BECL to produce documents to only one of the four commissioners, could set a problematic precedent.

Donal Smith, chief executive officer of BECL, has insisted that handing over the documents in question “would set a very bad precedent for private companies”.

The company must comply with the new summons by Tuesday.

The commission is investigating the alleged mismanagement of government funds on several projects, including the construction of the Transport Control Department's emissions centre in Pembroke.

BECL was awarded a five-year multimillion dollar contract to carry out safety and emissions testing in 2009, without the project going out to tender, and the contract was renewed in 2014.

On Thursday, representing BECL, lawyer Eugene Johnston claimed that the COI already possessed an abundance of information on the company.

Furthermore, he said that the BECL's minute books, which the commission has demanded to see, were “not relevant” to the matter.

He pointed to the 20-page PDF document available for public viewing on the commission's website displaying BECL contracts, correspondence and more between 2001 and 2011. Representing the commission, lawyer Jeffrey Elkinson criticised the “illusory obstructions” mounted by BECL.

Mr Kawaley suggested the matter could be resolved by the issuance of the new subpoena, requiring BECL to show its documents to all four commissioners, which the commission enacted the following day.

After the hearing, Mr Smith claimed that the COI had been allowed to “backtrack” and apply new mandates retroactively.

“It is clear to me that from the start of this inquiry there were no proper rules of engagement,” he said.

“BECL would like the Supreme Court to decide whether the COI is using its powers in the way that they were designed to be used.

“The commission appears to want a free rein to do what it wants, without the expected oversight.

“Justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done in the vein of fairness, which the COI appears to be struggling with.”

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

Donal Smith

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Published October 08, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated October 08, 2016 at 7:01 pm)

Inquiry’s fresh subpoena to BECL

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