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Premier and two Ministers took private jet trip funded by developers

The Premier and two Cabinet Ministers took a trip on a private jet paid for by a group of developers looking to invest in Bermuda.

Government confirmed that Premier Craig Cannonier, Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell and Attorney General Mark Pettingill had accepted the offer of the flight to hear about the investment options and to save on travel costs that would otherwise have been incurred by taxpayers.

Premier Cannonier said no code of conduct had been broken.

The revelation came after Shadow Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert cited a recent media report which claimed both the Premier and Minister of Tourism Shawn Crockwell had accepted a flight on a private jet from a developer bidding on the Club Med project.

“If this story is true, this represents a serious breach of ethics and places a cloud over the whole Club Med bidding process,” Mr Furbert said yesterday. “It also represents a breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

“The Premier who ran a campaign on openness, transparency, accountability and high standards of ethics must come clean on the details of this or any other gifts or favours received from businesses either currently or potentially holding government contracts.”

He issued a series of questions to the Premier, asking if he or any member of the party had received flights, gifts of favours from parties seeking government contracts.

Mr Furbert further asked for the monetary value of any gifts or favours received, the names of the groups involved, what contracts they are seeking and the nature of the relationship between the OBA, its Cabinet and the parties providing the alleged favours.

He added: “If the Premier performs his usual routine of running from questions and ducking responsibility for the actions of his Cabinet, we intend to appeal to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a commission of inquiry into these dubious and highly unethical activities.”

Mr Cannonier and Mr Crockwell both responded in a statement yesterday afternoon.

Mr Cannonier said: “The trip in question came about after I was contacted by a group of interested investors to attend a meeting in Washington DC to discuss a number of investment opportunities for Bermuda, including that of hotel development and gaming.

“Based on their own scheduling conflicts, the investors could not all come to Bermuda at the same time. They therefore offered to fly Mark Pettingill, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs and Shawn Crockwell, Minister of Tourism and Transport, along with myself to their location for a one-day meeting, where they presented development options for Bermuda.

“The group was keen to know the current status of several properties, including that of Club Med. We also had the opportunity to present our vision for Bermuda. No code of conduct has been broken.”

He added: “The vision and the passion of the government to capture the interest of foreign investors to stimulate job creation is an ongoing objective. We’re excited about the fact that so much attention is being demonstrated.”

Mr Crockwell meanwhile said: “This particular meeting is no different from meetings that are conducted regularly on-Island. The only difference is location.

“We did not feel that it was appropriate for the taxpayer to incur the cost of a potential investor’s request for information.”

Premier

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Published May 30, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 30, 2013 at 9:22 am)

Premier and two Ministers took private jet trip funded by developers

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