Former Minister of Public Works, Trevor Moniz told MPs on Friday night that the Sandys 360 was a “black hole” and BCM McAlpine approached him back in 2013 in a bid to recoup an unpaid bill over $1 million.
The One Bermuda Alliance MP also said Walter Lister, a former Progressive Labour Party MP, was paid $10,000 in connection with Sandys 360.
Mr Lister is quoted in the newspaper flatly denying the payment. He said he “never received a penny from that institution” and that Mr Moniz “made this up”.
Mr Moniz told MPs that “nobody knew what it was about” and that the KPMG report said there was “no pattern of anything they could see of any untoward payment”.
Mr Lister was chairman of the Sandys Secondary School Foundation in 2002 when the fundraising drive was launched for Sandys 360, which opened in September 2009.
It closed four years later in 2013 with “no business plan in place that would have made it sustainable”, according to Mr Moniz, who also said Melvyn Bassett, who was the managing director of Sandys 360, was “the only person paid on a full-time basis”. That salary was said to be “six-figure sum”.
As Minister, he said he told Sandys 360 trustees that he would not support any government funding to rescue the facility if he “didn’t have this report”.
But he said it was “patently ridiculous” to suggest that he gave the trustees a guarantee to bail out Sandys 360 “no matter what the report says”.
A redacted version of the report released in April 2014 last week by Lieutenant Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works.
Speaking at a news conference held on July 25, Minister Burch said: “Much has been written and said recently about the Sandys 360 saga.
“Before I head down that road though – I think it is important to remind you of the distinguished history of Sandys Secondary School.
“Let me first declare my double interest – firstly, I am a graduate of that institution before it was a Middle School and secondly one of the founders of the school in 1927 to provide secondary education for black children in the West – was my great aunt – the legendary Nurse Alice Scott,” said Colonel Burch.
“She was a registered nurse who founded a nursing home and a tennis club, a suffragette and was one of the first women in Bermuda to run for a seat in Parliament.
“She became a legend in the west end after co-founding the Sandys Secondary School. She was its driving force for many years, even mortgaging her home in its early years to raise funds to keep the school open.
“No doubt that the Sandys 360, Bermuda Sports, Aquatic & Enrichment Center (its full name) was started with those same intentions.”
The non-profit organization was designed to offer “a host of health development activities and other community programs” around “the western end of the island” and “cater to the students of Sandys Secondary Middle School”.
“In its heyday it grew far beyond a basic community center, enhanced all its facilities and catered to several thousand members.
“Although it worked on membership, anybody, including visitors could access the facilities by paying a daily rate. A variety of programs and activities were offered for all ages including youth, adults and seniors.
“It is important to remind of that historical background since all the noise around the current situation suggests mal-intent – not withstanding it ended in disaster,” he added.
To “catalogue events leading up to today” he asked “that particular note be taken of dates: 22 Dec 12 – Trevor Moniz is appointed Minister of Public Works 22 May 13 – Minister holds meeting with Sandys Trustees 14 Nov 13 – Trustees engage KPMG 3 Apr 14 – KPMG Report Delivered 28 May 14 – Pat Gordon-Pamplin appointed Minister of Public Works 15 Jan 15 – Craig Cannonier appointed Minister of Public Works ‘On or around the 16th day of December 2015’ – PATI Request made 18 Jul 17 – Colonel Burch appointed Minister of Public Works 27 May 19 – Information Commissioners decision issued The former government rejected a PATI request to release the report stating it was exempt from disclosure because it was provided in confidence”.
“I will leave it to others to ask why a PATI request lied dormant for almost three years without even a whisper – then suddenly in 2019 an order for its release is issued,” said Col Burch.
“I am advised that Trevor Moniz, at the May 2013 meeting, agreed with the Trustees to provide their grant funding if they commissioned KPMG to conduct the review, the cost for which was estimated in the engagement letter at between $120,000 and $150,000.
“With regard to the total funding to Sandys 360 – I am advised that funding came from a number of government entities – the request was referred to the Ministry of Finance who have access to all Government financial disbursements.
“With all that said, I can report today that following further legal advice – consultation with the Trustees and KPMG – I will instruct the Department of Public Lands and Buildings to release the redacted report electronically immediately following this conference.
“It is a 101 page report that those who wish to print it may do so. The redactions have been carried out in accordance with the directive of the Information Commissioner and all refer to Personal Information exclusions per (section 23 (1) of the PATI Act.
“Clearly this is something that two OBA Ministers of Works could have resolved rather than the ridiculous circus they have engaged in of accusing the present government of hiding something particularly in light of their recent utterances to release the report,” he said.
“I am pleased to release the report following the revised legal advice from the Attorney Generals Chambers who conducted the review.”