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Public inquiry would be ‘waste of time’

Urging caution: Former Attorney-General Trevor Moniz says Commission of Inquiry could prove embarassing for the Government (File photo by Akil Simmons)

A public inquiry into a government lawsuit against US medical group the Lahey Clinic would be a “huge waste” of time and money, the former Attorney-General at the centre of the case has said.

Trevor Moniz, a former One Bermuda Alliance Attorney-General, claimed an inquiry would be embarrassing for the Progressive Labour Party government and any conclusion would be “something completely obvious”.

Mr Moniz was backed by Michael Dunkley, the premier at the time, who said a suggestion by his successor David Burt for a Commission of Inquiry was “tough talk”.

Both men were speaking after Zane DeSilva, a PLP backbencher and former minister, called for an investigation into the case in the House of Assembly this month.

The call was supported by several PLP MPs and Mr Burt signalled he would consider the proposal.

Mr DeSilva’s request centred on controversy over files related to the legal action against Lahey and allegations that Mr Moniz or others destroyed documents connected to the case.

Mr Burt said at the time: “Maybe we can let an independent Commission of Inquiry find out the truth ... we will figure out how that truth is going to come out.”

Mr Moniz, now Shadow Attorney-General, said he believed the Premier’s comments were a way to “get back” at him after he told the House he was aware of proceedings by HSBC that involved Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General.

Mr Moniz added: “It’s nothing to do with the call for a Commission of Inquiry, it’s to do with me. He wanted to get back at me, he’s thinking, ‘how do I get back at Trevor Moniz?’”

Mr Moniz said: “It was disingenuous, of course he can’t support it.

“When you think about it, is he really going to spend a couple of million dollars on a Commission of Inquiry that’s going to be, at the very best, extremely embarrassing for his government?

“Even the facts that exist in the public domain are hugely embarrassing for the PLP, damaging too.”

He added: “It would be an awful waste of $1 million for something completely obvious, for something shown to be true and a huge waste of public expense and time.”

A US judge dismissed a case against Lahey in March.

She said in her decision that a claim under the federal American Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act could not be considered because Bermuda had suffered no loss in the US.

The former One Bermuda Alliance government alleged the medical group conspired with Ewart Brown, a former premier and doctor, to defraud the island of millions of dollars in healthcare charges.

Mr Moniz said files were with Boston-based law firm Cooley, which handled the American case.

He said suggestions that he had shredded documents related to the Lahey case were “nonsensical” and that he had “no fear”.

Mr Moniz added the call for a Commission of Inquiry was a matter for the Premier.

He said: “I can’t really say what he would do, my only remark is to be careful what you wish for, as these things have a way of turning back on people.”

Mr Dunkley added: “If the Premier wants to go for a Commission of Inquiry, he has the ability, and the way his colleagues spoke that night in the House of Assembly, I believe they support him. They have the ability to do it; it’s their decision.

He said: “I’m sure the PLP do not want to open up that hornet’s nest.”

Mr Dunkley added: “The Premier talked tough in the House of Assembly, but if you’re going to talk full of vim and vigour and bravado, most of the time it’s very wise to back up your talk with some action. The Premier needs to put up or shut up.”

Mr DeSilva said this week he had not discussed his call for an inquiry with Mr Burt since he spoke in the House.

He explained: “The Premier spoke after I did. He certainly emphasised that he thinks the people of Bermuda need to know the truth.

“That’s what I was requesting. There’s too many unanswered questions; there’s too many clouds hanging over this whole thing.

“The Premier almost called for it himself; he has the power; it remains with him as to what or if he’s going to do anything.”

An amendment to the Commission of Inquiry Act 1935 was passed in 2014 which meant the Premier, along with the Governor, can set up a hearing into matters of public importance and concern.

A spokeswoman for the Premier said he stood by the statement he made in the House on June 15 and had nothing further to add.