I am here to raise with the public a very serious issue of concern.
This concern involves a multi-million dollar contract for the Bermuda national sports centre and a multi-million dollar loan that has been given to the national sports centre and has been guaranteed by the Bermuda government.
My statement today is not intended to accuse anyone, but seeks answers to some very disturbing questions about the contract, the loan, and the government guarantee.
The national sports centre is managed by a small board of trustees. There are only six of them.
One of these six trustees has now resigned and called for an internal investigation into how the loan and government guarantee were obtained.
This trustee has alleged that the board of trustees never requested or approved the loan to the National Sports Centre.
However someone went ahead and arranged for a loan and the contractor in question has apparently drawn down significant monies from the loan facility to the sports centre.
The contractor also appears to have secured a $12,000 monthly payment for the next 10 years.
The trustee who has resigned properly raised these concerns with the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport.
The trustee properly demanded an internal investigation into these serious concerns.
The permanent secretary confirmed that an investigation would be carried out and that the ministry was not aware of the significant monies that had been draw down by the contractor from the loan to the sports centre.
It unclear whether any investigation has in fact occurred.
An investigation must happen now.
If, as has been alleged by the trustee, the loan was obtained fraudulently, and without the authorization of the board of trustees, then the police need to investigate, if they are not already.
There are a number of questions that must be answered:
(1) if the board of trustees was unaware of the loan, then who took out the loan in the name of the National Sports Centre?
(2) what was the bank told about the lack of authorization by the board of trustees?
(3) who signed the loan agreement on behalf of the national sports center as borrower?
(4) given that the Bermuda government was the guarantor of this loan, did cabinet formally approve the transaction?
(5) how can a loan have been granted to the sports centre when the board of trustees never authorized any loan?
(6) what is the position of the remaining five trustees? They must make their positon clear to the public.
(7) why are allegations being made by a trustee that the loan agreement was fraudulent?
(8) why is this project being progressed at all when the government is in such economic dire straits?
(9) why is the sports center entering into multi-million dollar contracts when the sports centre has no funds to support or repay the monies being loaned?
We owe it to the taxpayers to ensure that no further monies will be lost until we get to the bottom of this mess.
Today, I call upon the government to immediately halt the contract for works at the sports centre.
We need an immediate investigation into how some $6 million of Bermudian taxpayers’ money has been put at risk, apparently without any authorization by the board of trustees.
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