Cost of Brown inquiry tops $2m
A long-running police investigation into claims of corruption against former Premier Ewart Brown has cost more than $2.2 million to date, The Royal Gazette can reveal.
The amount has been disclosed after a public access to information request from this newspaper to the Bermuda Police Service.
The response from the BPS reveals that the true cost of the continuing five-year inquiry will be higher than $2.2 million, but police say they can only calculate it from the date a dedicated investigation team was set up, in February 2013.
The dedicated team includes three consultants, one inspector, one sergeant and one constable, with their salaries making up the bulk of the spending. The senior consultant earns $104,640 a year, while two consultant investigators are on $91,688 each.
The inspector heading up the team is on an annual salary of $117,640, while the sergeant earns $107,388 and the constable $92,325.
If those salaries are tallied up for the past three years and five months, the total figure comes to a little more than $2 million. The remainder of spending on the case is $168,000 on accounting and $30,561 on travel.
Allegations of corruption against Dr Brown, who served as leader of the Progressive Labour Party and the country from 2006 to 2010, were made under oath in the Supreme Court by disgraced financier David Bolden in June 2011.
They prompted a police inquiry, as reported by this newspaper on June 16, 2011, when Michael DeSilva, the Commissioner of Police, confirmed detectives had “commenced inquiries to determine whether any criminal offences have been committed”.
BPS information officer, Inspector David Geraghty, wrote in his response: “The investigation is being conducted from a government premises and there are no additional costs to the Bermuda Police Service in relation to rent.
“It must be noted that although the officers and investigators are currently assigned to this investigation, they remain active police officers and have been used at times for other policing duties.”
Asked to clarify when the inquiry was launched, Mr Geraghty replied: “Following the allegations made by David Bolden in 2011, an investigation was commenced by officers of the financial crime unit, led by a detective inspector.
“Towards the end of 2012, when the full scope of the investigation had been ascertained, a decision was made to set up a dedicated investigation team. This team commenced enquiries in February 2013.
“It is therefore a relatively straightforward task to determine the cost of the investigation from 2013 onwards. However, prior to 2013, the allegations were being investigated by officers as part of their normal duties. It is not feasible to determine how much of their time was spent on this investigation and therefore not possible to assign a cost to it.”
This newspaper’s Pati request was for the cost to date of police enquiries prompted by Bolden’s allegations. We asked for the number of officers involved, as well as their salaries and ranks, plus details of the names and salaries of consultants.
Mr Geraghty said no single record answered all the questions and some of the records containing relevant information would probably have to be “extensively redacted” before being released, so instead he provided written answers on the costs.
The officer did not identify the consultants, as he said such information was “considered to be an exempt record”.
“We are able to demonstrate that in the past, persons involved in investigations, especially sensitive ones such as this, have been targeted both physically and in social media,” he said.
“Therefore, we are applying Section 22 (1) of the [Public Access to Information] Act and exempting this record as being a health or safety concern.”
The police inquiry into Bolden’s claims came under the spotlight in May, with the arrest and subsequent release on bail of Mahesh Reddy, the medical director of Dr Brown’s practice, Bermuda Healthcare Services.
Dr Brown called a press conference on June 16, during which he described his employee’s arrest as “an extension of the witch-hunt that has followed me for years”.
“If there are charges, let me face them now,” he said, suggesting that millions of dollars had been spent by police so far.
Earlier this month, he likened the continued investigation of Dr Reddy to a state of war.
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