Column: Investigating Financial Rules Breaches

December 28, 2015

[Opinion column written by Jeremy Deacon]

I think I can predict with some certainty that if we rely on resources as they currently stand in Bermuda, any investigation into breaches of financial rules within Government will still be on-going when those responsible are long dead.

Such is the state of the Island’s police expertise in this matter that unless a small army of outside experts are called in, justice will never be seen to be done.

The Bermuda Police Service has ten officers in the financial crime unit who can chase paper trails – and ten probably means just seven or eight at any one time when you take sickness, training and vacation time into account.

Such is the pressure on the Police budget as outlined in a Bernews interview with the Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva that it is unlikely that the number of people involved in pursuing this particular type of crime will increase.

But there is a way – it will not be popular with charities and would mean the end of a few nice photo ops for the Premier in his role as the Minister for National Security.

Currently the Proceeds of Crime Act [PDF] allows for money confiscated from criminals to be paid out to community organisations.

Whilst that is laudable, would the money be better invested in bolstering the Police Service?

I might sound hypocritical because for a long time I have highlighted the financial problems faced by charities and called for increased support for the essential services they provide.

However, in the long-run, how are we better served?

As the Commissioner said in his Bernews interview, there are overlaps between some aspects of some of the Auditor General’s report and his investigations.

In the long-run, therefore, would it be better to boost the resources available to the Police in order to finalise these investigations? Allowing him to do so would [should] mean that deficiencies in the system are exposed and righted.

It could also mean that monies are recovered [via the Proceeds of Crime Act] and anyone breaking the law would be prosecuted. In short, it could [should] mean, the system is cleaned up once and for all in a highly transparent way.

In the short-term, it might be hard for charities, but in the long-run it would be a cathartic experience to the benefit of all.

Which route would you choose?

Jeremy Deacon is a 30-year veteran of the media industry in Bermuda and the UK. He runs award-winning public relations company, Deep Blue Communications, and also engages in freelance journalism for publications in Bermuda and overseas. He is also the Executive Officer of the Media Council of Bermuda.


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Comments (5)

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  1. Kangoocar says:

    I am totally for, the money going towards the police, as long as it is totally for the police financial forensic dept!!! We need to hold those responsible for our unaccounted for, $800 MILLION plus the many other $100′s of millions wasted in construction cost over runs!!!! The plp have done more damage to this Island and its people than any other event in our entire history, and they need to be held accountable!!!!!!!!

  2. Vote for Me says:

    Contrary to popular belief, the required expertise already exists in Bermuda.

    All that remains is for the government to determine if an additional investigation is a high enough priority.

    We also have to collectively stop the narrative about an unaccounted for $800m, with the inference that the funds have been stolen. In many cases the financial information is with the Auditor General’s Office, waiting for the audit to be completed.

    Bermuda has to decide if it wants to fund the extra several million dollars to allow the Auditor to complete all outstanding work.

    • North Rock says:

      Never gonna happen in this term…political suicide. This is the kind of thing you do in the first 2 years. If the OBA get reelected, people like the turkey donor (talk about buying people with their own money !) will be watching a lotta cruise ships from the west end hotel ! I can only hope…

  3. San George says:

    Waste of time mate? What’s the point? Like investigating U.S. cops shooting unarmed Blacks. Wink and nod – Atta Boy.

  4. Are You Serious? says:

    Help me understand this…the Police officers are “demanding”more more for the job they are HIRED to do?
    I bet not one of them complained while they were taking the coffers with their hugely inflated overtime while the going was good. I have heard MANY boasting how they were able to build not one, but two houses “back home” while still not touching their salaries (which I might add is 50-80% more than they will ever dream of making if still there)

    They all knew about this job before they took it and to hear them claim they are putting their lives on the line is a big joke especially when “back home” they are ducking bullets EVERY DAY for their paltry salaries.

    Pay the Bermudian workers (yes there are Bermudian Police officers too who get paid well) who haven’t had a raise in YEARS and who have to pay for their insurance, who endure wage cuts,huge layoffs and the indignation of not able to pay bills