Consultant a key player in hotel plan
US consultant Ronald Sutherland was a key player in finding a taker for the former Club Med site in St George's, which could gain a casino resort through the Desarrollos Hotelco Group.
Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell described Mr Sutherland, founder of international real estate advisers Hemisphere Group, as an intermediary putting out the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the brownfield site.
Mr Sutherland was hired through the “investment division of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, to provide investment concierge services”, the Minister said.
There was no tendering process in taking him on, and his hiring in mid-December, 2013 was handled by the executive steering committee of the just-formed BTA.
As a go-between with potential developers, Mr Sutherland “did have some form of communications” with US developer Nathan Landow, Mr Crockwell added.
However, Mr Crockwell refused to reveal the consultant's salary despite Parliamentary questions from Opposition MPs, citing BTA policy which allows its members to keep their pay private.
Shadow Tourism Minister Zane DeSilva accused the One Bermuda Alliance of keeping information from the Bermudian people, but the Minister responded that the BTA doesn't disclose its employees' “confidential information”.
When Opposition Leader Marc Bean asked if Government had no issue with the lack of transparency over taxpayer funds, Mr Crockwell responded that the Bill creating the BTA had been debated in Parliament — and that “we were fulsome in our explanations as to why we believe that the independent management of the Authority is efficacious to turn around tourism in this country”.
Mr Crockwell said the process of vetting proposals had been stewarded by Permanent Secretary Francis Richardson, along with Aideen Ratteray Pryse — the director of Planning — with BTA chairman David Dodwell, in consultation with Mr Sutherland.
Asked by OBA MP Suzann Robert-Holshouser if financing was in place for the potential East End development, the Minister responded that Cabinet had been “satisfied with the financial information provided by this finalist”.