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Derrick Burgess, BLDC board members could go before PAC

Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess may appear before the Public Accounts Committee tomorrow afternoon as the committee's hearings into the Auditor General's latest Special Report gets underway.

The hearings which are open to the public take place at the Senate Chamber starting at 4pm.

The special bipartisan committee of parliamentarians is responsible for examining issues relating to the Bermuda Government's accounts.

In January Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews reported that taxpayer money had been misused on two occasions.

She said one case involved a “fundamental conflict of interest” in which the government-owned Bermuda Land Development Company (BLDC) paid more than $160,000 in consultancy fees to the chairman and deputy chairman of its own board.

According to the Auditor General's report, Mr Burgess took no action even after the Premier had informed him that she supported her recommendation that the consultancy fees should be returned and that Mr Saunders and Mr Bean should vacate their positions.

The other matter saw more than $30,000 in public funds spent on what she described as the private legal fees of former Premier Ewart Brown and current Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess.

She called for sanctions against those responsible “including appearance before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).”

PAC Chair Bob Richards promised that the matters will be investigated by his committee as a top priority.

Yesterday, he confirmed that former BLDC deputy chairman Pastor Leroy Bean and the former chairman Edward Saunders will be appearing before the PAC tomorrow.

And he said that, if time remains, the committee will also call Mr Burgess.

Pastor Bean said he was looking forward to telling his side of the story and that he respected the role of the Auditor General.

“I'm hoping the truth comes out,” he said. “My whole interest was to protect the public purse and make sure that certain duties were carried out.

“If an audit firm were to carry out any of that the price would have been double or more.”

Pastor Bean insisted that the consultancy arrangements were in accordance with the bylaws of the BLDC and that accounting firm KPMG and law firm Trott and Duncan had determined that the board's actions were legal.

He said: “There was no ill intent in what we did. We thought we were representing the people of Bermuda.”

Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess. (Photo by Glenn Tucker)

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Published April 25, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated April 25, 2012 at 9:55 am)

Derrick Burgess, BLDC board members could go before PAC

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