Fahy dismisses Opposition ‘fronting’ claims
Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy has fired back at claims by Shadow Immigration Minister Walton Brown that people who may be “fronting” property are seeking Bermudian status.
Speaking in the Senate yesterday, Mr Fahy said a statement issued by the MP was merely attempting to stir up public sentiment.
“This release is probably not actually worth the paper that it's on,” he added.
Mr Brown said in a statement on Tuesday night that he had received “anecdotal evidence” during discussions with members of the Bermuda Bar that a number of permanent resident certificate (PRC) holders seeking Bermudian status were the beneficial owners of Bermuda property, outside of the legal permissions granted to PRC holders.
“In everyday language this is called ‘fronting',” Mr Brown said.
“This would be illegal and raises fundamental questions about the character of any person involved in such activities.
“Our position is that any application for Bermuda status, where the applicant is found to have been engaged in ‘fronting', should disqualify them for Bermuda status.
“I will continue my queries into these allegations and plan to report back to the public in the first part of the new year.”
Mr Brown urged the Department of Immigration to ask all applicants to identify all Bermuda properties of which they are beneficial owners, along with the date of acquisition.
He further asked if fronting would be a disqualifiable offence or if false or misleading statements by applicants would be enough to deny or revoke Bermudian status applications.
Mr Fahy said the accusations amounted to “someone heard something from someone”, and that any legitimate concerns should be reported to the Department of Immigration, so it could investigate them.
“If you have information that is even half decent, bring it to the Department and they will investigate,” he said. “If it's about people working illegally or fronting, bring it to the attention of the authorities rather than making up a statement.”
Mr Fahy said PRC holders seeking Bermudian status must publish their intentions in the newspaper, giving all members of the public an opportunity to object on the grounds of the applicants' moral turpitude.
“If they have been convicted of fronting, then that will count towards moral turpitude,” he said. Mr Fahy also told the Senate that it was disingenuous to refer to the Section 20B of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 — which allows some PRC holders to apply for Bermudian status — as a “loophole”, saying the Supreme Court ruling was simply a recognition of the current law.