Transport Ministry officials have confirmed a Bermuda Real exclusive report on the case of new government buses that were paid for in advance to a man in Belgium, who cashed the cheque, then vanished from the face of the earth.
Reliable sources told Bermuda Real several weeks ago, that former Public Transportation Board Director, Dan Simmons, who is now retired, was told not to sign off on payment by high ranking government officials.
Despite the warning, our sources said a $300,000 payment was reportedly pushed through before Mr Simmons retired.
That payment was made about a year ago.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity one source confirmed that the Bermuda Government is now “pursuing avenues of investigation and recovery” of the Bermuda taxpayers’ money.
Initial reports indicated that the cheque, paid to an alleged representative of a bus manufacturing company in Belgium was for more than $1 million.
Since then, Bermuda Real has been told that the cheque, which was said to be a down payment for new public buses, to be built especially for Bermuda’s roads, amounted to $300,000 from the public purse.
The cheque paid out last year, was cashed. And the man who cashed has not been seen, or heard from since.
After weeks of inquiries by Bermuda Real, a Transport Ministry spokesperson released the following statement:
“The Ministry is aware of some inconsistencies in respect of outstanding bus deliveries and is working with various entities including the Attorney General’s Chambers to ensure that issues are dealt with in an appropriate manner.
“Given the nature of this matter it would be inappropriate to comment further,” the spokesperson added.
Whatever the final outcome, what is clear is that the man in question and the taxpayers’ money have both disappeared. And to date, no new buses have appeared on Bermuda’s shores from Belgium, or elsewhere.
All this while public transportation commuters grapple with bus cancellations at the height of Bermuda’s cruise ship season.
By Ceola Wilson