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Defunct centre still getting public cash

The Bermuda Government has stonewalled questions about how much it is still paying to keep a defunct sports facility from falling into disuse.

The Sandys 360 sports centre is still receiving money from the public purse, according to its chairman Stanley Lee, despite closing its doors to the public two years ago.

The $10 million centre, which includes an indoor swimming pool, opened in September 2009 but, according to Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, was badly mismanaged, leading to its closure in late 2013.

The Government provided $1 million towards construction before Sandys 360 was built, followed by $2 million under a memorandum of understanding in 2012. A further $2 million grant from the Ministry of Public Works was put on hold in November 2013 after the extent of the centre's financial problems became apparent.

The Auditor-General revealed in a report last month that the centre received a duplicate payment of $807,000 in 2012 which had not been recovered.

Mr Lee, in an e-mailed response to questions from The Royal Gazette last week, revealed: “There is the balance of a grant, available with the permission of Government. A limited amount is released monthly to pay Belco, which allows the pool water to be circulated.”

Mr Lee did not reveal how much was being paid to the centre and said no further details would be shared.

He said for legal reasons he could not comment on whether any creditors were owed money by Sandys 360.

He added that it was up to the Government to release to the public an independent financial report on Sandys 360 carried out by KMPG “since they initiated the process”.

The Ministry of Public Works has not responded to a request for that report from this newspaper and has not answered questions about how much it is costing taxpayers to maintain the pool, or whether it is owed any other money by the centre.

Asked about the missing $807,000, a Ministry of Finance spokesman said: “I can confirm that Government has sought to recover this overpayment.”

He did not respond to further questions about whether the amount had still not been recovered, as stated in the Auditor-General's report.

Charles Thresh, from KPMG, said in response to a request for the financial report: “Our product is not generally in the public domain and is not in this case.”

Financial problems: the Sandys 360 sports centre (File photograph)

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Published December 10, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 10, 2015 at 12:07 am)

Defunct centre still getting public cash

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