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Government to use ‘international law option’ to serve papers over Savvy loan

Savvy Entertainment chief executive Anthony Blakey, from Atlanta, Georgia. (Photograph via Facebook)

The Government has still not served court papers on an American music promoter in connection with the disappearance of an $800,000 taxpayer-funded loan.

The cash was lent in April 2018 to Anthony Blakey and his Bermudian employee Danilee Trott, who operated as exempt company Savvy Entertainment Ltd, to buy equipment to set up a recording studio at Dockyard.

The Royal Gazetterevealed the loan and the fact that most of it had not been paid back in July 2019.

Three years later, the Government has still not served court papers on Mr Blakey, who is believed to live in Atlanta, Georgia.

A government spokeswoman confirmed last week that “efforts continue to bring proceedings against Anthony Blakey to recover the $800,000 loan monies due to the Government of Bermuda”.

She added: “The Georgia legal firm instructed on behalf of the Government of Bermuda has not yet been able to achieve valid service on Blakey under Georgia law.

“The firm has advised that an international law option can now be adopted to effect legal service.

“This will be done via the prescribed process under Georgia law and the expectation is that proceedings will commence once service is completed.”

The Government first issued demand for payment notices in June 2019 against Savvy Entertainment Ltd for defaulting on $778,204 of the loan.

But the Gazette reported in September 2020 that Mr Blakey had not been tracked down and the funds had not been recovered, prompting the Government to ask police to investigate.

David Burt, the Premier, apologised to the public for overseeing the loan.

The June 7, 2019 demand for payment notices were served at Savvy’s registered office at Amicus law firm on Reid Street in Hamilton and on Ms Trott at her home in Devonshire.

The government spokeswoman said last week that Ms Trott was “one of the owners of Savvy, who has joint and several liability”.

An agreement between the former Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism, and Ms Trott and Mr Blakey, filed at the Registrar of Companies, shows that the loan was provided on April 2, 2018 for 36 months “for the purposes of setting up a music studio at Savvy House, 26 Pender Road, Ireland Island, Sandys”.

The document said: “The loan is made on the strict condition that the loan is to be used for the purpose of setting up the studio, for shipment to Bermuda of recording equipment for your authorised business purpose and for the installation of equipment in West End Development (Wedco) facilities at 26 Pender Road.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the loan may not be used by you to fund other business, to pay or discharge any other loan, or to make expenditures not directly connected with the studio, and the loan shall be a first charge on the equipment in the studio.”

The loan, with an interest rate of 4.75 per cent a year, was to be repaid monthly over a maximum of 36 months. At that compounded interest rate, more than $940,000 would now be owed to taxpayers.

The agreement said Ms Trott and Mr Blakey would have to pay for any costs run up by the Government related to enforcement of its rights under the loan terms.

Both signed the agreement, along with Randy Rochester, who was then the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism.

The music studio never materialised.

Ms Trott told the Gazette in September 2020 that she had no shares in Savvy Entertainment and had not been served with a demand for payment.

She said she was not given any of the loan cash and had been unable to reach Mr Blakey since spring 2019, when he stopped responding to calls, e-mails and texts.

Ms Trott said at the time: “I have not had any communication with Mr Blakey in a very long time.”

Ms Trott and former tourism minister Zane DeSilva were arrested by police in connection with the disappearance of the loan in October 2020 and later released on bail.

Mr DeSilva, Progressive Labour Party MP for Southampton East, described his arrest as the result of “what was effectively a mob-handed police raid” and insisted he had no involvement in the loan deal.

Police said last December they expected to pass a file to the Department of Public Prosecutions in early 2022.