Newly appointed Attorney General Kathy Lynn Simmons has disclosed that after taking up office, that “there are no litigation files within the AG’s Chambers” with respect to two “very sensitive” civil lawsuits launched by her predecessor Trevor Moniz.
Speaking at her first news conference on Tuesday, Senator Simmons described the way the Lahey lawsuit and the case involving the Port Royal Golf Course Redevelopment Project had been handled as “unprecedented and concerning”.
She also disclosed that the two cases combined, has cost local taxpayers more than $2 million and counting.
Senator Simmons told the media that she has yet to see the files for either case. Both civil lawsuits were filed by the former One Bermuda Alliance AG against Lahey Clinic and the former trustees of Port Royal Golf Course, headed up by then Progressive Labour Party Cabinet Minister Zane DeSilva.
In her prepared statement, Ms Simmons said: “I have inherited from my predecessor Trevor Moniz some very sensitive matters with ramifications for the integrity of the office of Attorney General and the administration of justice as a whole.
“The nature of how these matters were being handled by the former Attorney General is unprecedented and concerning as there are no litigation files within the Attorney General’s Chambers with respect to these matters.
“As a consequence of this highly irregular circumstance, as Attorney General, I am currently in the process of obtaining these files in order to review the lawsuits… In particular, I have instructed counsel to obtain complete files from overseas counsel retained by the former Attorney General regarding both matters.”
Once she receives both files she said: “I will subsequently advise the Government whether it ought to proceed with these matters, with the benefit of being fully briefed.
“I wish to point out that prior to my appointment as Attorney General, the primary person having conduct of these matters was the former Attorney General Trevor Moniz, assisted by his political consultant Richard Ambrosio, a junior barrister.
“In his capacity as Attorney General, Trevor Moniz appears to have provided instructions to overseas counsel to the exclusion of other counsel in the Attorney General’s Chambers, including Solicitor General,” said Senator Simmons.
“At the conclusion of an objective assessment of these matters, a decision will be made in accordance with the constitutional responsibilities of my office.
“The process I have undertaken will enable me to decide the way forward accordingly.”
Senator Simmons also noted that the counsel abroad were co-operating with regard to the Lahey lawsuit, but she said she was not prepared to discuss the Port Royal case further. She was also unable to say how much of the $2m spent on both cases so far had been spent on each case.
On hearing his successor’s statement, Mr Moniz, the former AG said both files were extensive and were held in outside offices. All Ms Simmons had to do was contact her legal advisers he added.
“I understand that she faces a steep learning curve given that she is new to dealing with cases of political corruption, which is why I made my earlier public offer to assist her. This offer remains open,” said Mr Moniz.
He also said there was “nothing unusual about engaging external counsel to deal with certain matters and who hold files on behalf of the Government, especially in cases dealing with political corruption”.
“In respect of Lahey, as the matter is being dealt with the US courts, the litigation file is being held by Cooley’s office in Boston as they are the Attorneys of record on the matter.
“In respect of the Port Royal matter, during my time as AG, the litigation file was maintained by the Deputy Solicitor General.
“I was working on 12 separate matters being investigated – of which, Lahey and Port Royal were only two. Any costs incurred related to all 12 cases,” he said.
“Furthermore, given that there are large amounts of evidence involved in these investigations, all other files have so far been kept by Cooley’s office in London. It was simply not practical for piles upon piles of paper to be printed and stored locally.”
Mr Moniz said that the Attorney General needed only to “pick up the phone up the phone and call her legal advisers at Cooley”.
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