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Premier issues statement on private jet trip

Premier Craig Cannonier this afternoon issued a statement again defending a trip on a private jet paid for by potential investors in Bermuda.

His statement said:

I wish to address questions raised this week about a recent trip some of my colleagues and I took to Washington DC.

I do so to set the record straight and ease concerns arising from Opposition charges that this was some kind of unethical undertaking.

Mr. Speaker,

A few months ago, I was contacted by a wealthy individual from Maryland who stated that he had an investment group that wanted to meet with the new Government of Bermuda to discuss the current economic conditions in Bermuda.

This gentleman stated that he had extensive experience in the gaming industry and wanted to share with the Government his views regarding gaming’s potential to help revitalise our tourism industry and generate jobs for Bermudians.

He wanted to have a dialogue concerning economic development in Bermuda and specifically asked to meet with me as the new Premier of Bermuda and also requested that the Minister of Tourism and the Attorney General attend this meeting. He said his team had a variety of questions they wanted to raise and discuss.

Mr. Speaker,

I invited this gentleman and his team to come to Bermuda and meet with the Government, but he stated that it would be very difficult to get them all to Bermuda and that he would prefer if a Government delegation could come to a meeting at his office.

I made it clear that, as this was his invitation, the cost of this meeting should be fully borne by him.

A date was set and a delegation including myself, the Tourism Minister and the Attorney General flew to Washington for the meeting.

Mr. Speaker,

The meeting was very productive and informative. Several questions were asked concerning the Club Med property, other hotel properties on the island, the Hamilton waterfront and Gaming.

Other questions were asked in relation to work permits, concessions, the government’s relationship with the Unions and other topics. This was our first contact with this group. They had not been identified as a possible partner for Bermuda and had never met or liaised with the Economic Development Committee.

Throughout the meeting, the Attorney General made it clear to the group that any specific project they may be interested in would have to go out to tender. This was made abundantly clear and, I believe, it was clearly understood.

At no time were any bids made or formal negotiations discussed for any property. No legally binding contracts, guarantees or promises were made for any property or any other business in Bermuda.

The meeting, which lasted several hours, amounted to an exchange of information. Subsequent to this meeting, this group has not made any application to this government as it relates to developments in Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker,

This Government is working to create jobs and economic prosperity in Bermuda. Foreign capital is critical to this effort and so it is a matter of course that we meet with people who can bring job-growing investments to the Island.

I do recognise that accepting the invitation to visit the investor group can be viewed in the negative. I appreciate these concerns. As always, we have Bermuda’s best interest at heart, and we will continue on with the important business of restoring jobs and generating opportunities for the people of Bermuda.

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Published May 31, 2013 at 5:18 pm (Updated May 31, 2013 at 5:17 pm)

Premier issues statement on private jet trip

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