Audio: MPs Discuss Govt Lawsuit Against Lahey

February 17, 2017

[Updated] Parliamentarians discussed the lawsuit the Bermuda Government filed against Lahey in the House of Assembly today, with the Opposition asking about the U.S. – Bermuda Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, with Attorney General Trevor Moniz saying there has not been a “treaty violation in connection with the Lahey legal proceedings or otherwise.”

This follows after the Bermuda Government filed a lawsuit in the federal court of Massachusetts alleging that Lahey conspired with former Premier Dr Ewart Brown for a time period spanning nearly two decades, allegations which both Lahey and Dr Brown have denied.

The legal complaint alleges that Lahey conspired with Dr Brown in an “enterprise fueled by Lahey’s payment” of to Dr Brown “in return for which Brown facilitated and ensured that Lahey received preferential treatment.”

The matter has been brought up again this afternoon in the House of Assembly, and we will have additional coverage later on, and in the meantime an audio excerpt of some of the discussion this morning is below.

Audio excerpt of some of the exchange in the House of Assembly today:

Update 6.12pm: A transcription of some of the audio contained in the video above is below.

As MPs discussed the matter until around 6pm this evening, the text below is not even close to all the commentary in the House, and we will have more coverage of today’s session of the House of Assembly at a later date.

During the time frame the audio covers, the Opposition were questioning the Attorney General about the U.S. – Bermuda Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty [PDF].

Attorney General Trevor Moniz said,The House will be aware that on the 14th of February, 2017, the Bermuda Government issued civil proceedings against Lahey Clinic in Federal Court in Boston.

“It would not be appropriate for me to make any comment to this Honourable House which in any way relates to any criminal investigations into the conduct at issue which proceedings may have been, are being, or may be conducted by Federal authorities in the United States of America, or by Bermuda, or which in any way relate to any mutual legal assistance in connection with that.

“I can assure this Honourable House and the Learned Member that there has been no treaty violation in connection with the Lahey legal proceedings or otherwise.

Shadow Attorney General Michael Scott asked, “Is the Attorney General aware that the treaty, the US Bermuda Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, is not intended to extend to civil matters.

Attorney General Trevor Moniz replied, “I am aware of the contents of the law.”

MP Walton Brown then asked, “Can the Honourable Attorney General confirm whether or not he has received any communication from the US Department of Justice regarding a possible violation under that treaty.”

Attorney General Trevor Moniz replied, “I refer to my earlier response, and to the standing orders, I am unable to answer that question.”

Opposition Whip Lovitta Foggo then asked another question about the treaty, and the Attorney General replied, “I thought I’d made myself clear that I am not in a position to comment on matters which are covered by the treaty, or which may prejudice an ongoing matter, I am not at liberty to do that.

MP Walton Brown said, “Can the Honourable AG clarify for us all in the House and the Bermuda public, why he is unable to clarify, given that the question falls outside of the actual treaty itself?”

The Attorney General replied, ”To repeat, they refer to matters of legal privilege, they refer to matters of a treaty and also it would be breach of standing order.”

Shadow AG Michael Scott said, “Under standing orders, by extension, by reference to these, no subject is safe. Objections can rise in relation to matters that are outside of the courts of Bermuda.”

Attorney General Trevor Moniz said, “There are also matters being considered by Bermuda courts, I’m not going to prejudice those matters.”

Opposition Leader David Burt said,  ”The members of the public who are listening will see that the Honourable Attorney General of the country refuses to answer questions placed directly to him. So I will try to make it as direct as possible.

“We have it under information that his office has been contacted by the prosecutors in this case, that the Government has used confidential information obtained under treaty, inside of a civil case, in direct contravention of our treaty.

“Will the Honourable Attorney General please give a simple yes or no question to this House today as to whether or not he has been contacted by any member of United States Department of Justice since his office filed a lawsuit on Tuesday. Yes or no.

Attorney General replied, “The members of the Opposition are charging down the wrong road at full speed. There has been no breach of any treaty. No matter from any criminal investigation is being used in a civil investigation, so they can rest easy on that front and the public can rest easy.

Deputy PLP Leader Walter Roban asked has there been any contact in relation to this matter with the Department of Justice.

Attorney General replied, ”I’m not permitted to speak to that matter.”

MP Zane DeSilva said, “The AG said that he is not going to answer the questions subject to standing orders with regard to legal privilege and and decisions of courts of law. This is in neither one of those cases. So the question to the Honourable AG is, has he, or his Department, been contacted by the Department of Justice with regard to the treaty?

Attorney General said, ”The question’s been answered.”

PLP MP Wayne Furbert said, ”Can the Honourable Minister inform this Honourable House, what was the monthly retainer paid to the law firm in Boston,” and the Acting Speaker interjected to say that that is “not part of the question that’s been posed initially.”

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