OBA calls for answers on ‘dodgy-looking’ loan
A One Bermuda Alliance politician asked yesterday what security was put up by an American music promoter who received an $800,000 government loan to set up a recording studio in Dockyard.
Patricia Gordon-Pamplin claimed the deal, agreed in April 2018, was “dodgy-looking” and raised more questions than answers.
The OBA's finance spokeswoman said: “The $800,000 loan was repayable over three years, which is around $22,000 a month, plus interest, from a so-called entertainment business that does not appear to have had any trading activity.
“How can a ‘non-business' repay $22,000 a month?
“The Burt administration has given money away to a non-Bermudian ‘music promoter' whose company has no track record.
“How many other loans like this have been agreed by Premier David Burt?”
The $800,000 loan agreement was signed by the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism, Anthony Blakey, from Atlanta, and Danilee Trott, a Bermudian event planner who worked for him.
It said the pair traded as Savvy Entertainment, an exempt company, and that the loan — to pay for recording equipment for the historic Moresby House, on Pender Road, in Sandys — would be placed into a bank account provided by them.
The Royal Gazette revealed last Wednesday that $778,204 of the loan remained unpaid more than a year after civil proceedings were launched against Mr Blakey and Ms Trott in the Supreme Court.
A government spokeswoman said lawyers were unable to track down Mr Blakey in Georgia to serve him with a demand for payment and so the Government had “initiated the appropriate steps to engage both the local and US authorities regarding a criminal complaint as part of the recovery effort of these funds”.
Mr Burt apologised last Thursday for his role in the loan.
He said: “No part of me feels good about the fact that this did not work.
“I fully get the anger and frustration — it is deserved and I am sorry.”
Ms Gordon-Pamplin said yesterday: “The Premier's recent ‘apology' stated the $800,000 loan had security.
“From the appendix to the contract, it appears that the ‘security' may have been the equipment Savvy planned to buy with the money.
“But where were the so-called assets that were supposed to secure the loan? Were they in Bermuda? Did the assets exist at all? The people's money was just handed over to the promoter? Why?”
She added: “This money belongs to the people of Bermuda.
“How can the Premier have been so gullible to have approved this dodgy-looking deal?
“Let's just hope this was incompetence and nothing more than that.”
Paperwork at the Registrar of Companies showed all the shares in Savvy Entertainment were held by Mr Blakey when it was incorporated in September 2016.
Beneficial ownership at present could not be established because the company is exempted, so does not have to make that information public.
Exempted companies are normally not allowed to conduct business in Bermuda, but can get ministerial permission in some cases.
Ms Trott said she did not hold any shares in Savvy and did not get any of the loan funds.
A government spokeswoman said last night: “The loan was personally backed by the local and overseas partner of Savvy and the Government will take all measures to ensure that funds are recovered.
“As the Bermuda Police Service have already confirmed, a formal complaint regarding this matter has been made to them on behalf of the Government of Bermuda.”