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Gaming watchdog’s Pati indiscretions mount

The island's gambling watchdog has been rapped on the knuckles for the second time this month for a failure to comply with public access to information rules.

Cheryl-Ann Mapp, chairwoman of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, did not provide The Royal Gazette with a response after she was asked to review the public authority's decision to withhold records about the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee.

Gitanjali Gutierrez, the information commissioner, in a decision due to be made public today, said failure to reply was a breach of the Public Access to Information Act.

Ms Gutierrez said the commission told her the failure to answer may have been because of a “computer and e-mail system failure” in April last year. She added: “The gaming commission submitted that it had drafted the internal review decision and intended to issue it, but due to the system failure, a number of e-mails failed to send.

“The gaming commission was unaware that the e-mail attaching the internal review decision had failed to send.”

The Royal Gazette submitted a Pati request to the BCGC on January 31 last year for all communications between the commission and the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee, a government advisory body set up to combat financial crime.

The request asked for reports and documents produced by the commission for the NAMLC, including a “National Risk Assessment Tracking Document”.

The commission's alleged failure to meet a deadline for production of the tracking document was one of the reasons given by former tourism minister Jamahl Simmons for why the BCGC was brought under ministerial control at the end of 2017.

He said the document was needed for a national risk analysis being conducted by the NAMLC and the commission had a legal obligation to produce it, but failed to do so under former chairman Alan Dunch.

Mr Dunch resigned over the Government's decision to place the regulator under ministerial control.

He and the commission's former executive director, Richard Schuetz, said no one from the NAMLC or the tourism ministry had ever told the BCGC that it was failing to meet its NAMLC obligations.

The BCGC rejected The Royal Gazette's Pati request on March 8 last year on the grounds that release of the records “could have a serious adverse effect on the financial interests of Bermuda or on the ability of the Government to manage the national economy”.

The newspaper asked Ms Mapp to review that decision and, after receiving no response, appealed to the Information Commissioner's Office.

The ICO launched a review and Ms Mapp then sent a response, on January 22 this year, upholding the initial decision to withhold the records.

Ms Gutierrez said: “The information commissioner does not require the gaming commission to take any further action at this time in relation to the applicant's request for an internal review.”

She added that she had been given Ms Mapp's decision and it was now under review by the ICO, at the request of The Royal Gazette.

Ms Gutierrez, in a separate decision reported on last week found that Ms Mapp breached the Pati Act through a failure to respond to another request from The Royal Gazette for records on betting shops.

She ordered the chairwoman to respond on the betting shops request by March 19.

On occasion The Royal Gazette may decide to not allow comments on what we consider to be a controversial or contentious story. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

Consistent resistance: Cheryl-Ann Mapp, chairwoman of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published February 12, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated February 12, 2019 at 3:25 pm)

Gaming watchdog’s Pati indiscretions mount

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