No response from Government on bank claims
The Government has failed to answer questions regarding claims by a veteran MP that two Progressive Labour Party premiers have been told their accounts at Butterfield Bank are being closed.
Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, hit out at the bank for “kicking out” four clients in total.
Alex Scott, who was PLP premier between 2003 and 2006, said the situation did not involve him. Attempts to contact other former premiers have been unsuccessful.
The government silence comes in the wake of revelations in The Royal Gazette from Butterfield Bank that while it could not discuss individual customer relationships, it was required to monitor “transactional activity”, and comply with domestic and international laws when terminating accounts with clients.
Asked if the matter related to himself, Mr Scott told The Royal Gazette: “No. My current account is still current with the bank.”
Asked about the Government’s silence on the issue, the former premier said: “I have no knowledge to comment on that.”
Referring to the parliamentary remarks by Mr Burgess, Mr Scott said: “I was certainly surprised at the fact such comments were made on the floor of the House.”
Mr Burgess told fellow MPs he believed the bank had not provided proper reasons for the move, but declined to supply further details when later approached by The Royal Gazette.
The Government was asked a number of questions about the veteran PLP MP’s claims – including a suggestion that such bank action could have been “ordered” by the British Foreign Office, or the Governor’s mansion in Bermuda – but has not responded.
The senior government MP (Derrick Burgess) has referred to two PLP premiers being “kicked out” of Butterfield Bank. Is David Burt one of those two PLP premiers, or is he not one of them?
If not, does Mr Burt know which PLP premiers the senior government MP is referring to? Is he concerned about the situation?
Does the Premier believe the bank has acted in the manner Mr Burgess has suggested?
Does the Premier share Mr Burgess’s view that Butterfield has acted incorrectly in this matter?
How does the Premier view a senior government MP suggesting that the British Government and/or the Government House may have “ordered” such action against customers of the Butterfield Bank, including “two PLP premiers”?
Will the Premier launch an inquiry into the concerns of the senior government MP regarding the matter?
A Butterfield spokesman made it clear that the bank conducts ongoing reviews of customer “account balances and transactional activity” to ensure compliance with domestic and international law.
The people involved have been told their accounts will terminate on February 15.
Mr Burgess made his remarks when, referring to Butterfield, he told the House of Assembly “they are now kicking people out of the bank”.
He added: “And sending them letters – you have got ‘til February to get out, and, really giving no reason.”
In a seeming reference to the people he said Butterfield had told to “get out”, Mr Burgess stated: “Those four people that I know of include two premiers of this country.
“It is not right, and, I am talking about premiers in the Progressive Labour Party, I don’t know if this has affected others on the other side (the One Bermuda Alliance).”
In a reference to the British Foreign Office and to Government House in Bermuda, Mr Burgess added: “Now we have banks here, and I welcome them because we want foreign investment because that is what we earn our dollars on.
“And they come in here – and, I don’t know if they have orders from the FCO (UK foreign office), or from the largest house on Langton Hill – but, why would you pick certain people to be kicked out of your bank when they are not proven criminals and they were born just like you and I?”
Neither Rena Lalgie, the Governor, nor the Foreign Office responded to requests for comment by press time.
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