Saying that the Premier provided a $3.6 million contract to a company co-owned by his personal fintech adviser “without going through the proper tender process,” the OBA Leader called for a “full financial audit,” while the Premier said the “Auditor General has audited and will continue to Audit the Government’s Covid-19 Response.”
The contract being referred to is for Respartner, which powers the Government’s test and vaccination bookings, Travel Authorisation system and more, and the company is partially owned by Denis Pitcher, who was appointed as a Fintech Technical Consultant back in 2019.
Opposition Leader Cole Simons
Opposition Leader Cole Simons said, “The narrative continues – Premier David Burt consistently finds himself in conflicts of interest, without remorse or accountability.
He added, “From being the Premier and Minister of Tourism and being in charge of gaming, to now, literally handing a $3.6 MM dollar contract” to a company co-owned by his personal fintech adviser Denis Pitcher “without going through the proper tender process.”
“Let’s not forget that his Health Minister, Kim Wilson who when cornered, admitted that her Ministry failed to take the required steps to get approval to engage Request for the Travel Authorization process and Covid 19 test booking system?
“The One Bermuda Alliance and the people of Bermuda find this behaviour breathtakingly unconscionable.”
“We are tired of the lack of accountability and the lack of transparency and as evidenced by David Burt and his Party. As a consequence, we call for a full financial audit. Enough is enough,” Mr Simons added.
Premier David Burt
Premier David Burt said, “Once again the Opposition Leader is just trying to make headlines. The Opposition Leader knows that the Auditor General has audited and will continue to Audit the Government’s Covid-19 Response and all funds spent in that response. This Government will continue to support that effort as there is nothing to hide when it comes to funds spent to keep Bermuda safe.
“Also the Opposition Leader doesn’t need a press release to get information surrounding this or any other Government contracts. Mr Simons serves as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee so he can conduct his own inquiry if he sees fit, which would be much more effective than attention seeking press releases that call for what he knows is already taking place.”
“Please note the links to the Auditor General’s Reports to date on the Government’s Covid-19 Response:
- Public Interest Report March 2021 [PDF here]
- Government of Bermuda’s Response To Covid-19: Public Interest Report [PDF here]
- Public Interest Report November 12, 2021 [PDF here]
- Government of Bermuda’s Response To Covid-19: The Unemployment Benefit Administration [PDF here]
Mr Pitcher, who co-owns the company, noted that he “disclosed my conflict up front, recused myself from involvement in the process and transitioned from a paid to an unpaid advisory role once my company had a finalized contract.”
Mt Pitcher — who has previously posted details about the service on his social media page, with a post back in June 2021 to explain how “broad and complex resQwest really is” — added that “it would be worthwhile comparing what we’ve delivered to other similar projects launched elsewhere.”