Column: ‘Time To Come Clean’ On Arbitrade

December 20, 2018

[Opinion column written by Michael Dunkley]

After the Premier’s Question period last Friday in Parliament, Premier David Burt was forced to take the seldom used “Personal Explanation” period during the next sitting on Monday to correct a misleading answer to a question I put to him.

Last Friday during the question period I asked Premier Burt what Government vetting was done on Arbitrade, a non-Bermudian entity, and their application to buy Bermudian owned land. He replied that enhanced due diligence was done “that was requested by myself to the highest levels.”

He went on to say that those questions went to the assistant Financial Secretary, the assistant Financial Secretary went to the Financial Intelligence Agency and made sure they completed background checks using the International Interpol Systems for all various directors. The Premier said that background checks came back with no objections.

In spite of being asked, the Premier refused to say which individuals the background checks were done on.

On Monday, in Parliament, during the Personal Explanation period, the Premier attempted to come clean on his earlier misleading answer from Friday by “clarifying” that “multiple sources not solely Interpol” conducted due diligence. He went on to claim that this was a minor distinction.

Well, herein lies the problem. In my experience, the Ministry of Finance and the FIA are unable to have any vetting done by Interpol directly unless the Bermuda Police Service is involved.

Premier Burt needs to admit that he unknowingly or knowingly misled the Parliament last Friday. In addition, given the media coverage of Arbitrade, he needs answer if the BPS was involved, what agencies actually provided background checks and which individuals the background checks were done on.

It is now apparent that Premier Burt is trying to create a separation between the Government and Arbitrade.

On May 31st 2018 he posted a tweet highlighting a presentation by Arbitrade that he attended during which they demonstrated their cryptocurrency platform. Since then he has been unable or unwilling to provide the names of the Arbitrade officials he met in spite of repeated questions in Parliament and his commitment to provide them.

Questions have been either left unanswered or been answered inadequately. Last Friday was the most recent demonstration by the Premier of the glaring lack of accountability and transparency that is becoming all too common for this PLP Government.

As my colleagues and I have said many times, it is important and necessary that we continue to attract foreign capital and investment in Bermuda. In doing so, we must ensure that Bermuda’s good reputation as a blue chip destination for business is upheld. If the Loyal Opposition cannot receive answers to simple questions, then red flags are raised.

It is clear that the PLP Government has allowed the sale of land owned by Bermudians to a company formed by Non-Bermudians that, as the Premier stated, has not applied for a license under the Initial Coin Offering Act nor been issued a license to conduct a Digital Asset Business by the Bermuda Monetary Authority.

There is no guarantee that either license will be granted. Yet the PLP Government has allowed them to buy a building to do what? Sell fish cakes?

The Premier said “ the approval for a company to purchase property is wholly unrelated to the Bermuda’s Digital Asset regime and it would not be correct to state that one will affect the other or to imply, as some have, that an approval to purchase property is a sign that other approvals are imminent.” This sounds like the cart being put in front of the horse!

It is time to come clean!

Bermuda can be assured that the OBA while in Opposition will hold this Government accountable and will not cease asking the appropriate questions that Bermudians wish answered to ensure our Bermudian land is not sold off without proper vetting and that our birthright is appropriately protected.

- Michael Dunkley is the former Premier and current MP for Smith’s North


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Comments (3)

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  1. 2 Bermudas says:

    Pee El Pee supporters will not care until the day the civil service can’t make payroll. Until then this is just the ‘oligarchy’ ‘fear mongering’.

  2. Donald says:

    Arbitrade is on track to revolutionize Bermuda. How exciting is it to be watching history unfold!

    As far as Dunkley – all washed up and feeling left behind. Dunkley is now teaming up with the lunatic Mr. Ronnie Moas to try to discredit the advances made by the Premier. Dunkley & Ronnie – two peas in a pod. How fitting.

  3. eyes wide open says:

    Arbitrade is a big problem…very similar in fact to the plp