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Cottle: I was never involved in evaluation

The Hamilton waterfront, which is at the heart of the protracted legal battle between Michael MacLean and the Bermuda Government (File photograph by Mark Tatem)

Maurice Cottle, a former consultant in the Attorney-General’s chambers, strongly denies claims he knew Mark Pettingill, the former Attorney-General, was acting corruptly in the Hamilton waterfront controversy.

Mr Cottle’s sworn affirmation, released yesterday after a landmark ruling from Chief Justice Ian Kawaley, comes in response to allegations, including an alleged death threat, in an affidavit from Llewellyn Peniston.

Mr Peniston had filed in support of Michael MacLean, the businessman locked in a court battle with the Bermuda Government, stating he had met Mr Cottle in late 2013, after being told he was helping evaluate the waterfront site.

“When I saw Cottle on Church Street one day,” states Mr Peniston, “I pulled him aside and let him know that I was aware of his instructions to give some advice with respect to the waterfront.

“I told him to be very careful because he might be unwittingly planting himself in a bad professional position, possibly because Pettingill may have needed support for his personal position.

“He did not show any emotion when I revealed that I had been made aware of an offshore bank account in the British Virgin Islands that belonged to Pettingill, and that it was suggested that that bank account be used to facilitate the payment of money from MacLean to Pettingill personally.”

Replying in his affidavit, Mr Cottle denies ever being involved in evaluating the waterfront, continuing: “I knew nothing of the allegation in Mr Peniston’s affidavit that Mr Pettingill had an offshore bank account in the British Virgin Islands which was to ‘be used to facilitate the payment of money from Mr MacLean to Pettingill personally’ until I read his affidavit.”

In his own affidavit, Mr Pettingill dismisses the claims against him as “deplorable nonsense”.

According to Mr Peniston, shortly after his conversation with Mr Cottle, he received threats from businessman Steven DeCosta in a meeting at Evans Bay in Southampton.

“As soon as he reached me, he began to shout,” states Mr Peniston.

“He was pointing in my face. He said that if I divulged anything about the ‘financial arrangements’ of his ‘political colleagues’ in respect to their payment from the waterfront agreement, I would be killed.

“He was adamant that I should think about getting out of Bermuda for my own good. It was impossible for me to say anything in response to this because of how irate DeCosta was. Once he issued the threat, he left me standing there.”

In his response, Mr Cottle says that Mr Peniston had urged him not to hold up the progress of the development as he stood to benefit from it financially. Mr Cottle adds that he had previously worked for Mr Peniston’s law firm Peniston and Associates, noting: “Mr Peniston did not conduct himself in the manner expected of any attorney/barrister; he had scant, if any, regard for the truth, or ethics if he stood to benefit; and his word was not his bond.”

• To read Mr Cottle’s and Mr Peniston’s affidavits in full, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”.