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Smith fires director over inquiry row

Businessman Donal Smith today fired a high-profile lawyer as a row escalated over his refusal to release records demanded by the Commission of Inquiry.

Delroy Duncan told the panel he held the financial records on Bermuda Emissions Control Ltd, which are the subject of a subpoena, but was loath to release the documents because Mr Smith had threatened to sue him if he did.

The lawyer, a director of Trocan Management Limited, corporate agent for BECL, read out an e-mail sent to him today by Mr Smith, firing him from his contract.

“If there is some other way that the tribunal can achieve its purposes, I would seek some form of allowance,” Mr Duncan said.

Commission chairman Sir Anthony Evans said the panel had sympathy with Mr Duncan.

He told Mr Smith, who was sitting in the public gallery, that it would not report him to the court for refusing to release the records but would have to complete its inquiry without them.

“You will appreciate that we won't have had any evidence from you, any assistance from the company. The company won't be in a strong position to complain.”

That prompted Mr Smith, the founder of BECL and former Deputy Mayor of Hamilton, to describe the commission as a “farce” or a “witch-hunt”.

Mr Smith told the tribunal he would not consent to the release of the records.

“I don't run from a fight,” he told Sir Anthony. “There is no evidence. I have not been charged for anything. I want to put it to you: I'm not backing up from this.”

He further warned that he would expose much information publicly, if pushed, that could prompt another commission.

He said the “whole world will know that ... this is farce or a witch-hunt”.

After retiring, the panel returned and ruled that Mr Duncan was released from the subpoena and there would be no further order in relation to it.

Yesterday, Mr Smith, answering questions from the witness box, denied making any contributions to any political party, saying he found it “bizarre” that taxpayers would want to know whether he had.

“I find the question silly and dumb,” he said.

Mr Smith also denied providing any economic or other benefits to individuals linked to the Government.

This month, BECL lost a legal appeal against a subpoena requesting that it provide documents regarding the development of the Transport Control Department's emissions centre in Pembroke.

The commission had requested documents from the business as it continues its investigation into the misuse of government funds on a raft of projects, including the construction of the TCD building and three emissions testing centres.

Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews concluded in a special report released in 2010 that the cost of that project tripled from $5.3 million to $15.2 million after control was “relinquished” by the Government to two linked private companies, one of which was BECL. She found a disregard for normal financial controls.

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.

The hearing continues.

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, founder of Bermuda Emissions Control

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Published November 29, 2016 at 10:44 am (Updated November 29, 2016 at 12:35 pm)

Smith fires director over inquiry row

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