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‘No tender hurt value for money’

Commission of Inquiry: Fiona Luck, chairman and former Court of Appeal Judge Sir Anthony Evans, John Barritt and Kumi Bradshaw (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A multimillion-dollar advertising contract handed to a friend of Ewart Brown could have yielded greater value for money if it had been put out to tender, the Commission of Inquiry declared.

The $14 million deal was awarded to GlobalHue in 2009, a few weeks after the company was the subject of a scathing Auditor-General report into the way it had operated on previous contracts with the Ministry of Tourism and Transport.

The decision, spearheaded by the former premier, came as America was reeling in an economic crisis, and the Commission pointed out a competitive tender would likely have produced a better deal.

Dr Brown has repeatedly denied he gave the contract to the American company because of his friendship with its president, Don Coleman.

Larry Dennis, the Auditor-General, had reported taxpayers spent $1.8 million in overpayments to GlobalHue in 2008, while the firm had used a media buyer, Cornerstone Media, whose commissions had run as high as 181 per cent.

Pointing to possible criminal activity, the Commission stated: “The premier as Minister for Tourism recommended the contract to Cabinet as a straightforward renewal with no evident concern shown over the serious criticisms raised in the Auditor-General’s report.

“This new contract was agreed after the 2008 financial crash and the Commission believes that environment would have been conducive for a competitive tender among advertising agencies, likely enhancing value for money.”

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