Created: Jul 14, 2022 11:29
Gina Stableford, owner of OARRS Inc (Facebook photo)
The government is still questioning why it did not involve the police after accusing a debt collection company it hired of committing a “criminal offence”.
A secret legal settlement was reached with Oarrs Inc in May, but ministers repeatedly failed to say how much taxpayers’ money was involved in a payment to the company, which claimed the government owed it nearly £2million of dollars.
The government also did not respond whether it imposed a gagging order on the settlement in an effort to try to ensure the true figure never came out.
Why weren’t the police called when the tax commissioner’s office accused the financial recovery company of committing a ‘criminal offence’?
Has the Attorney General ever been involved in reviewing Oarrs’ situation or the ‘criminal offence’ charges? If not, why not?
The OBA says former finance minister Curtis Dickinson called for an inquiry into the Oarrs affair, while current Prime Minister David Burt ‘paid them off’ – is that what? happened ?
How much did the government pay the company in the settlement?
Since this was a civil case, why hasn’t the government yet disclosed how much taxpayers’ money has been paid out?
Did the government impose a so-called “gag order” or nondisclosure agreement as part of the settlement? If yes, why?
Mystery surrounds the closed-door settlement with Oarrs Inc, which filed a lawsuit against the tax commissioner’s office in July last year.
Oarrs said in his statement that the CTO’s “unlawful and unfair conduct” led directly to it running out of available funds and firing its three Bermudian employees.
The OTC countered that the company had “committed a crime” by collecting the tax without a license, so its contract was terminated.
But the Bermuda Police Department said last week that no criminal charges had been filed against Oarrs and his work for the government.
A Bermuda Alliance shadow cabinet minister, Craig Cannonier, pledged to raise the issue in the House of Assembly on Friday, as he urged Prime Minister and Finance Minister David Burt to “be clear” on the controversy.
Oarrs founder and chairman Gina Stableford said in an affidavit that the tax commissioner told her a license was not required and termination of the contract was being considered because of the amount owed to the company .
David Burt, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance (file photo by Blaire Simmons)
After a Pati request to The Royal GazetteTax Commissioner Derek Rawlins revealed that $12,717,099 had been recovered by the company between September 2020 and April 2021 and the company had been paid “$99,826.61 to date”.
He said his office receives monthly collection reports, summary data collection reports, and monthly performance reports — although in its defense to the lawsuit, the CTA claimed that Oarrs “n ‘provided no adequate report’ in violation of his contract.
The company, founded and run by Ms Stableford, alleged in its statement that the CTA refused to pay its bills, despite collecting $13.5 million in unpaid property taxes for the government between September 2020 and June 2021.
The OTC claimed that the contract it had with Oarrs could not be performed because the company was performing the debt collection service without a license and had therefore “committed a criminal offence”.
The Royal Gazette first disclosed on April 7, 2021 that Oarrs was collecting $1 million in unpaid property taxes for the government without a debt collection license and without the contract having been tendered.