Selling Bermuda – A Review

Well, Politica, part of the Think Media,  launched earlier today, and with quite a bang at that!


It launched with four stories, one a profile bio of Nathan Landow (central to Jet Gate), one on the bizarre incident of the reporter being barred from a press conference, one a follow-up on the main story (what next, etc), and the main story being allegations about Cannonier, Landow, corruption and casinos.

Now, if you want to read the full main story, there’s a fee of $3 – the other stories are free to access.

Without payment one only sees perhaps the first quarter of the main story.

Which I guess is understandable seeing as the news site is independent from advertisers and seeking to be a ‘by and for the people/readers’ in a way.  Inconvenient, but understandable.

Besides, Politica isn’t a blog like this, it’s set out to be a proper media outlet and involves a lot of time and full-on investigative journalism.  If we want that in Bermuda (and we all claim to I think), then surely we should value that and support it?

And so I finally gave in and paid my $3…

It’s well worth reading, although as it relies on sources who prefer to remain anonymous, out of fear of repercussions, I can easily see this article falling victim to our traditional political tribalism.

OBAers will use that as an excuse to dismiss the allegations, while PLPers will see this report as validating much of what has been accused already.  Swing voters will split, but generally will look at these allegations in light of other, previous developments.  I believe that the majority of swing voters will conclude that there’s more truth than not in these allegations though.

Personally, I know that Mr Johnson is generally reluctant to use anonymous sources and would only do so if there was a genuine concern for their welfare.  I don’t doubt that these sources are legitimate.  Whether the allegations they make are true or not I cannot say, but it gels largely with what I was made aware of from alternate sources already.

Now, you’ll have to pay the full $3 or read excerpts in other media, but I’ll summarise what, to me, are the key allegations raised:

  1. Cannonier asked Landow for a donation for the OBA’s 2012 election campaign, insinuating that this would lead to the legalisation of casino gambling in Bermuda which Landow could benefit from.  Landow donated $300,000 accordingly.
  2. Cannonier had met with Landow before the Jet Gate scandal, both before the 2012 election and shortly before the Jet Gate scandal.
  3. Cannonier’s business partner and close personal friend, Stephen DeCosta, was present at meetings with Landow, with no explanation to date.
  4. Cannonier asked Landow, during Jet Gate, for $2 million dollars to help expedite the legalisation of casino gambling.
  5. Landow had been pushing for Cannonier to abandon the referendum on casino gambling; Cannonier later told Landow he’d done just that during his Prayer Breakfast visit to DC earlier this year – despite denying having met Landow at that time.  Landow contradicts the Premier saying that they did meet, at least briefly.
  6. Landow has an interest in the Club Med site and was given an advance version of the Club Med RFP in the fall of 2013, months before it’s official release in January 2014.

These are some serious allegations, and despite how I predict our tribal politics will play out, behind doors this is likely going to be raising some serious internal questions within the OBA itself.

The article itself goes into much more detail – it’s almost 4000 words in total – and I recommend reading it in full for oneself.

Questions Raised

It also raises some serious legal and ethical questions – after all, if these allegations are true, do they constitute bribery/corruption?  And if so, should the Premier be arrested?


It also raises some immediate political questions.  Does the Premier retain the confidence of his Cabinet, let alone parliament and the people?  What are the chances of a No Confidence vote?  Or an internal OBA ‘palace coup’?  Who might replace Cannonier as Leader and Premier in that event?  Would we see a new election?

To me it also raises some questions of political reform, especially the issue of campaign financing, but also issues relating to corruption in general (who remembers Alex Scott’s proposed Public Integrity Act from early 2013?).

Where there’s smoke there’s fire?

Despite my fears of how OBAers will simply dismiss this report out of hand, I think it’s important to read the ‘After Selling Bermuda’.

It makes a good point about the question of institutional integrity and the OBA.  In particular, it notes:

“If the integrity of the OBA is to be defended, its rank and file members must demand an internal investigation into the handling of Nathan Landow’s interest in Bermuda.  They must demand full disclosure from their Leader.  And they must tell the public of the party’s findings and decisions.”

All very good points, whether one accepts the allegations or not.

The allegations are of such a serious nature that the above is the least of what needs to happen.


2 thoughts on “Selling Bermuda – A Review

  1. Pingback: Independent’s day | Breezeblog

  2. In this, I find myself reminded of a multi-million dollar donation by a certain Dutch billionaire to the PLP’s election campaign—and his coincidental purchase of Bermuda Commercial Bank soon after.

    Not that I am condoning anything here, but certainly wealthy individuals bankrolling elections for personal interest is nothing new. And it’s not something I get miffed over, either, to be honest.

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