Audio: Premier David Burt On $800K Loan

September 25, 2020 | 35 Comments

“I fully get the anger and frustration – it is deserved, and I am sorry,” Premier David Burt regarding the $800,000 loan for a recording studio which has not been paid back, with the Premier adding “lessons have been learned from this episode and the Government has taken the necessary steps to ensure that protections are further strengthened.”

In a post yesterday on Facebook, Premier Burt said, “Good night/morning Bermuda. I pen this at a late/early hour as I have had a number of conversations yesterday/today where persons have expressed concern about the Government “giving away money to a foreigner”. I’ve also seen quite a number of posts on social media and did engage in a little back and forth yesterday on Twitter. Given my schedule on Wednesday, I’m just having the chance to sit down and pen this detailed note.

Audio of the Premier’s comments, he tweeted the voice note early yesterday:

He noted it was a “loan agreement” saying that “there are many who feel that this money was “given”, but it was a loan agreement with security.”

The Premier said, “Allow me to provide some context. After the OBA spent $3m refurbishing Moresby House and $39m constructing Cross Island, we were determined to put the area to good use. The Government agreed to partner, in good faith, with a Bermuda Company that had a local partner and an overseas partner to utilise Moresby house.

“Let me elaborate on this point, this project would never had been a consideration without a Bermudian in the equation. The Government doesn’t give funds to foreigners to “build their dreams”. There have been many persons who have come to the government with proposals, and we have always maintained that there is no conversation without a Bermudian partner in the frame.

“The intention of this initiative was a good one. It was to develop a top-level recording studio in a government building capable of servicing local and international artists.

“The view that this was for the sole benefit of someone from overseas is not correct as the studio was to be constructed in a Government-owned building for the benefit of Bermuda, especially local entertainers – again it was to be constructed in a government-owned building. As the Premier, I fully supported this project.

“Every financial order was followed, advice from technical officers for the protection of the Government of Bermuda was accepted and due diligence was performed. The two persons who signed the loan agreement are jointly and severally liable for the debt.

“The impression given by this story is that someone came to Bermuda, gave us a presentation and we let them fly away with $800K in a suitcase; that is not what happened here. Government Ministers cannot release monies from Government Accounts. Public officers are the only persons who can authorise monies to be sent and they must be satisfied that all is according to financial instructions.

“It is important to note that the loan was being serviced for a time in 2018. However, when payments started falling behind and then stopped, action was taken to protect the Government’s interests.

“This initiative did not work out and the Government is pursuing funds that are legally owed to the taxpayers of Bermuda. Directions were also given to prepare necessary documents and information for the Bermuda Police Service to investigate any possible criminal wrongdoing and also for US authorities to be engaged to assist with the recovery of funds owed to taxpayers.

“Whether it is $2m stolen by UK nationals who abscond with Government money or $200m that must be recouped because of a failed, taxpayer guaranteed project; the position of the Government is the same: The government will do everything it can to have the funds returned.

“In hindsight, this could have been handled better; there is absolutely no doubt about that.

“The cries of Bermuda’s citizens resonate with me – and I fully understand the anger. There are some who feel they could have succeeded in this enterprise and were never given the same opportunity as this company.

“Though we have helped countless Bermudians with funding for education, sports, arts and youth development, there are many that feel this $800,000 that was loaned to fit out a studio in a Government-owned building could have benefited them.

“The Cabinet I lead is responsible for the actions of the Government, and though the proper process was followed for the granting of a loan for this project, the end result is a less than flattering view of competence and accountability.

“I accept that, and as Premier, the buck must stop with me. I was the Premier & Minister of Finance when the loan was made, and I supported this project. No part of me feels good about the fact that this did not work. I fully get the anger and frustration – it is deserved, and I am sorry.

“Lessons have been learned from this episode and the Government has taken the necessary steps to ensure that protections are further strengthened to protect against a circumstance like this occurring in this or any future government.

“The Ministry of Finance has directed that any future loan agreements that may be considered must have an escrow agreement attached to ensure that loan proceeds are used for their intended purpose.

“So as I close this note at this [now early] early hour, I end with this. A project that had all the best intentions, to benefit Bermuda and Bermudian artists, which enjoyed the support of the cabinet, and passed the scrutiny of public officers, did not work out.

“30 months later I am a better, more experienced Premier, and note that just as the Government has learned lessons, I have too. Every day we work to get better at our jobs, and this experience, though costly, has been instructive.

“Every day I aim to do better than the last, and for me, today will be no different.”

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Comments (35)

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  1. Really? says:

    So he admits blame but tries to deflect to past financial fraudulency? Burt is in way over his head.

    • Truth says:

      Go right along and vote for the leader who received 350k from a hotelier that was for the OBA party. Which we all know the OBA didn’t receive.

      So do the voters call that a dishonest trust issue or trickery?

      • Ringmaster says:

        the Premier at the time resigned over the matter. A principle that no one in the PLP – Dr Brown human trafficking uighurs and now Burt with accepted incompetence and naiveite similar to Cannonier – would do. A big difference is that Cannonier was badly advised by the AG and another lawyer. Brown and Burt acted on their own by their own admission. Burt continues to show his naiveite and needs to resign.

      • Hey says:

        One was our tax payer money, that Burt gave away., the other Was a donation from an overseas person, which didn’t even get into Cannoniers hands.

        Why is Burt trying to weasel out of this. This I would never have happened if he hadn’t made it happen. Time for Burt to refund us our money and stop blaming others.

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    “Let me elaborate on this point, this project would never had been a consideration without a Bermudian in the equation.”

    Why won’t you tell who the “Bermudian” is?

  3. Mark says:

    In the real world he would resign. In Bermuda he’ll get a building named after him. Total farce. And all the sheep know they’d be marching on Parliament if it was not a PLP SNAFU.

  4. A Lister says:

    If he gets it, he should resign. By the way, if you put in the cost of the sweet heart real estate and associated renovations, the real figure is a lot higher than 800k – all so Jamal could have his personal party piece and play big shot. He needs to go to and as he is opposed only by the FDM candidate in his area, I think there is a good chance he can be. Ms. Storie, get out there in 32 and canvas, canvas, canvas…

  5. Let me please point out something that came to mind as I heard the Premier speak on this matter, The Hon Premier said that this money was never guaranteed to this foreigner with out a Bermudian Backer, but the Premier never said who the Bermudian was or is, but the American persons name is out in public domain.so I have a few questions.

    1) Who is the Bermudian Guarantor (Backer)

    2) Is The Bermudian Guarantor being held responsible to also pay back this money, in full or partial because they would have had to have put up some form of security, to secure the loan.

    3) What collateral was used to Guarantee the loan and can we as tax payers cash in on this collateral from the Bermudian Guarantor.

    This seems to be a situation that has to many loop holes, and I for one didn’t hear the story when it was first published in The RG in 2019, so to hear it for the first time and listening to the Premiers response, as a tax payer I have questions, and I know the Government will be reading this post, so please answer us the Tax Payers.

  6. sandgrownan says:

    Faith Based Tourism, The Black Mayor’s Conference, Beyonce, Playboy Mansion “charity” scheme….there’s a history of vanity projects with minimal oversight and a total lack of accountability.

    These on their own would just highlight a naïve and incompetent government. But when you layer on the mismanagement of the Port Royal revamp, Heritage Wharf, Berkeley, The Emissions Testing Facility, The Grand Atlantic then you start to see a trend of fiscal incompetence.

    Then throw in homophobic and xenophobic rhetoric, the demonization of ex-patriots and you can see how the PLP have destroyed Bermuda in 20 years. They are the status quo. It’s on them.

    • Smith says:

      Based on everything you write on Bernews you hate anything and everything black, which includes a black government. It’s know wonder the only person who is crazy enough to lead the obaubp is Jetgate man.

    • Noah James says:

      well he was the master magician’s apprentice – what do you expect?

  7. Andrew says:

    Sad thing is none of this even matters…they will still get voted back in by the sheeple…and nothing will come of this.

    ”This too shall pass”

  8. Codfish says:

    I understand all the negativity and am not debating that this was a terrible decision. BUT I have so much respect for a leader that puts his hand on heart and admits to being in the wrong or making a mistake, rather than hiding behind “spin”. Remember – nobody is perfect and we’ve all made terrible decisions that we thought were good decisions at the time. Leaders of countries are more exposed to public scrutiny and will make larger errors.

    I do not vote PLP because I find them discriminatory, but my respect for this leader continues to grow through his actions.

  9. RIP oba/UBP says:

    The UBPERSoba are so desperate now. I give credit to the Premier Burt for explaining what happened. Thank god only a few fools are voting for Cannonier.

  10. red rose says:

    No! You blamed the civil servants – that was very poor leadership!

  11. newperspective says:

    National debt now increased by $12.31 per person. Total now $48,223.67 and continuing to rise with no end in sight. I guess everyone is resigned to the fact that Bermuda’s debt is what it is and that’s that!

    Bermuda’s character, values and principles have gone out the door. I suppose the USA is rubbing-off on we Bermudians. FYI, America’s national debt per person is estimated at $78.5k.

    When you look at national debts around the world, no-one seems to care. Politicians justify rather than manage budgets to attain surpluses overtime to eliminate the debt. Wishful thinking, right?

  12. wing nut says:

    Other party member where dismissed for a lesser fault.
    I guess an apology fertilizes the money tree and makes it ok.

    • Truth says:

      He was removed by his party for being dishonest after a report was written. Now you want to trust him to lead Bermuda. Your own supporters are saying he needs to go.

  13. dunn juice says:

    Shows they dont know how to handle money, also how much more is it going to cost us to chase the 800k..if thats the real amount, i mean we are just finding out about this.

  14. People's Campaign? says:

    We need to assemble the People’s Campaign that march for the people!

  15. PISS Ant or PESANT says:

    So do we get a sweep it under the carpet apology for VICTORIA HALL the MISSING MILLIONS and on and on

  16. Bermudian says:

    So who is the Bermudian? I’m a tax payer and this information should be released as it was public funds that funded it. And yes if this was the OBA there would be marching and protests so don’t go there. All anyone has to say about OBA is jetgate…say something else and no not the airport. Shouldn’t the Bermudian be held liable for the missing money? Let’s see how much the PLP are for the ‘people’ and name the Bermudian.

  17. Karayasatahala says:

    Name the Bermudian associated, please;People’s Money; Common Law dictates the People shall know.

    • DownDeRoad says:

      The Bermudian partner was Danilee Trott. If you google her name and Savvy Entertainment it comes up as she was the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO).

  18. Ugh says:

    So 2 ministers resigned over partying without masks on, Burt needs to resign after losing 800k on the taxpayer money.

  19. SYM CHRISTIE says:

    Not a Bermudian backer. Was a Bermudian partner. Danilee Trott former event planner from Corporation of Hamilton.

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