Richards: Rio expenses report ‘misleading’
Sylvan Richards, the Minister of Social Development and Sport, has branded The Royal Gazette’s report on expenses for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics trip “incorrect and misleading”.
The article in Friday’s edition, which used a Public Access to Information request to the Bermuda Government to obtain a breakdown on expenses for the trip, showed that half the nights booked for Mr Richards and his permanent secretary, Wayne Carey, had gone unused.
According to the Government’s online site for travel expenses, the trip cost $31,566 — with the Pati response showing accommodation expenses of $10,991.
The details provided showed 18 of the nights booked at two hotels from August 4 to 22 going unused, at a cost to the taxpayer of $5,495.50.
When approached for clarification on Friday by The Royal Gazette, Mr Richards advised that a response would be forthcoming. No statement was received.
However, at 10.15pm that evening, the sports minister posted on his personal Facebook page that the newspaper had issued misleading information — and said that the Bermuda Olympic Association had made the prepaid booking, which the Government later reimbursed in full.
Mr Richards said the BOA had followed normal procedure, and that his ministry did not contact the hotels directly.
“The BOA had to prepay for a block of rooms for dignitaries, including its own officials,” Mr Richards continued.
“When it was determined that me and my permanent secretary would be attending the Olympics, the BOA identified available hotel rooms that had already been reserved and prepaid in full for 18 nights by the BOA. The BOA then advised us that it was not possible to book rooms for the portion of the time that my permanent secretary and I would be in Rio, which was for nine nights from August 5 to August 14, 2016.
“As the block of rooms had been prepaid in full by the BOA, the Government accepted and payment was made to the BOA for two rooms for my permanent secretary and I for the full 18 nights from August 4 to August 22, 2016.
“However, my permanent secretary and I were in Rio supporting our athletes for nine days from August 5 to August 14.”
Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the BOA declined to comment, saying she had not seen Mr Richards’s statement.