Convicted: Former W&E manager Kyril Burrows. *File photo
Convicted: Former W&E manager Kyril Burrows. *File photo

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8: A court case that saw a crooked civil servant and his wife jailed for stealing more than half a million dollars was sparked by Bermuda’s Auditor General.

And Government watchdog Heather Jacobs Matthews said that other civil servants should face action for breaching civil service Financial Instructions — failures which made it easier for Kyril Burrows and wife Delcina to rip off the public purse for years.

In her first case after taking over as the independent Government watchdog, Heather Jacobs Matthews launched a probe into Kyril Burrows and wife Delcina Bean-Burrows.

Ms Jacobs Matthews said she was alerted to problems in the Works & Engineering department in September 2009 – and a whistleblower helped seal her evidence.

We approached Ms Jacobs Matthews to ask what lessons might be learned from the case and to provide context.

Ms Jacobs Matthews said: “With the assistance of a whistleblower, who came forward voluntarily to provide relevant information, I was able to refer the matter, which I deemed to be of a criminal nature, to the police authorities in 2010.”

Former Works & Engineering manager Kyril Burrows, an architect, and wife Delcina Bean-Burrows were last month sentenced to eight and six years in jail respectively for stealing more than $540,000 from the public purse between 2005 and 2009.

They were earlier convicted of all but one of 35 charges after a three-month trial.

During the Supreme Court trial, the jury heard that the couple financed the building of a luxury home in Turkey Hill, St George’s, using taxpayers’ cash and that Kyril Burrows channelled cash to companies controlled by his wife in payment for Government work that was never done.

The pair were ordered to pay back $526,000 to the Government within two years or face an additional two years behind bars.

During the marathon trial the court heard from senior civil servants that it was routine to sign off on invoices without knowing exactly where the money had been spent.

And the court was told that it was standard practice to issue pre-signed blank payment certificates to staff, including Mr Burrows.

But Ms Jacobs Matthews said: “Turning a blind eye or hiding behind the veil ‘that’s the way it has always been done’ is unacceptable.”

 She added: “I stand behind my earlier comment that no one person could have perpetrated this long standing abuse of public funds without the assistance of other civil servants at various levels who were also in breach of Financial Instructions.

“As far as I am aware, there has been no action taken against those civil servants who have admittedly signed off on payment documentation without knowledge of the work being carried out.”

Cabinet Secretary Donald Scott, the head of the Civil Service, declined to comment on whether any other public servants would face sanctions.

He said: “As a matter of policy, Cabinet Office does not comment on internal disciplinary matters.”