Court action still to be taken to recover Savvy $800,000
The Government said yesterday that it had not yet launched court proceedings to try to get back an $800,000 loan to an American music promoter.
The cash was lent to Anthony Blakey, from Atlanta, and Danilee Trott, a Bermudian event planner who worked for him, in April 2018 to buy equipment to set up a recording studio at Dockyard.
But less than $22,000 was paid back, in the summer of 2018, and Mr Blakey and Ms Trott, who operated as exempt company Savvy Entertainment Ltd, owe the remainder, plus interest.
The Royal Gazette wrongly reported in July 2019 that a lawsuit had been launched by the Government to recover the funds, but it has now emerged that did not happen.
The report was based on information from a source, since determined to be incorrect, and a demand for payment notice seen by the newspaper.
Questions were put to the Government at the time about the “writ” and what efforts were being made to get the money back but there was no response.
A request made to the Supreme Court last year for a copy of the civil claim also got no reply.
A Ministry of Tourism spokesman said on August 5 last year: “Government cannot discuss this matter any further as it is to be the subject of litigation.”
But a government spokeswoman revealed yesterday: “In response to your query about whether the Bermuda Government has filed the writ, we have not.”
The spokeswoman said demand for payment notices had been served at the registered office of Savvy Entertainment on June 11, 2019 and on Ms Trott on July 8, 2019.
The spokeswoman released paperwork that showed the demand for Savvy was served at Amicus Corporate Services on Reid Street.
Amicus told The Royal Gazette it was no longer the registered office of Savvy.
But the Registrar of Companies said it remained the registered office until it was replaced by another.
The government spokeswoman said lawyers in Atlanta had been hired by the Government to serve Mr Blakey with a demand for payment, but they were unsuccessful.
She added: “In the ordinary course of proceedings and pursuant to the loan agreement, the filing of a writ follows service of the demand notice.”
She said: “The Government’s position, based on legal advice provided, is that the demand must be served first and we then have to serve the writ after filing.
“If we are unable to serve Mr Blakey, the Bermuda court may waive the requirement to serve him personally.
“We have contacted the Atlanta firm again to renew attempts to serve Blakey.”
The spokeswoman said: “The Bermuda Government will seek to obtain judgment in a civil case.
“However, we have inquired of counsel in Atlanta whether it is possible to commence the action in Georgia and proceed there. We are awaiting a response.”
She added: “Government is considering all avenues available to it to effect recovery.”
The Royal Gazette reported last month that Mr Blakey could not be found and that Ms Trott claimed to have received none of the loan money nor to have been served with a demand for payment.
The government spokesman said on September 23 that the Government had “initiated the appropriate steps to engage both the local and US authorities regarding a criminal complaint as part of the recovery”.
But the police service said it had not received a complaint. Civil servants met detectives on September 24 to file an official complaint.
Police arrested an individual — believed to be Ms Trott — on September 30 in connection with the missing cash.
Zane DeSilva, a former government minister, was arrested two days later and said after his release from custody that he had “absolutely no involvement” in the deal.
A police spokesman said yesterday: “The two individuals arrested have been released on bail. No other arrests have been made.”
The police spokesman declined to comment on whether officers in Bermuda were in contact with police in Georgia.
He said: “It would not be prudent for the Bermuda Police Service to give specifics on which agencies are involved in the Savvy Entertainment investigation, but there is a trans-national component.”
David Burt, the Premier, apologised to the public last month for overseeing the loan.
He said Savvy was a Bermuda company with a local partner and an overseas partner.
He added: “This project would never had been a consideration without a Bermudian in the equation. The Government doesn’t give funds to foreigners to ‘build their dreams’.”
Incorporation documents at the Registrar of Companies showed Mr Blakey as the sole owner of Savvy Entertainment.
The Royal Gazette asked Amicus to release the firm’s register of members, in line with the Companies Act.
But the register was not released — which has been reported to the Registrar of Companies.
Exempt companies are not allowed to conduct business in Bermuda, in most cases, unless they have ministerial permission.
The Government did not respond to a request for comment on whether ministerial permission was granted to Savvy.
Note:This article has been amended to make clear that The Royal Gazette made an error when it previously reported that a lawsuit had been launched by Government.