Bahamians Should Accept Reality, Or Lose It All

THE UNFORTUNATE detention of Swiss banker Emmanuel Fiaux, executive director of UBS Bank on East Bay Street, reveals how many Bahamians are ignorant of what side their bread is buttered on. They want jobs, they want the luxury of living beyond their means, they want their country to survive its present economic crisis, and yet they nurse their innate prejudice against the white foreigner who is the banker, the investor, the financier – the creator of much of the wealth without which this country could not rise above a fishing village.

To read the comments of many Bahamians on The Tribune’s website – Tribune242.com – it is immediately assumed that anyone who supports Mr Fiaux‘s right to courtesy in the Bahamas is only doing so because he is a white foreigner, who heads a bank and drives a luxury car.

The Tribune supports Mr Fiaux’s position not for any of these reasons. Our position is that if he were guilty of any offence, then despite the fact that he represents one of the world’s largest global financial companies, headquartered in Switzerland, he should be charged and prosecuted. But we can find no law that he has broken, nor any reason for his detention. If, as has been reported, he was “irritated” at the way he was questioned, he had every reason to be.

However, Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell, who was off island when the unfortunate incident took place, said he was “satisfied” that the officers did nothing improper in arresting Mr Fiaux and taking him to the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, presumably for further interrogation. Mr Mitchell said that as far as he knew, his officers followed the letter of the law. Of course, if this is the type of law that we now have in the Bahamas we suggest that – in view of these hard economic times — Mr Mitchell should save taxpayers the cost of him travelling the world to try to attract investors. No investor is coming to a country that is so anti-foreign.

Since when has it been the law for a person to carry his identification papers on him? We are certain that if we were stopped on any day of the week the only identification we would have would be our name. Because the interrogating officer, who ordered Mr Fiaux’s car to the side of the road, recognised neither his name, nor that of his bank was not Mr Fiaux’s fault – nor was it any reason for the assumption that he was an illegal immigrant qualifying for a stint in the Detention Centre.

And even though he had produced a driver’s licence — we do not know if he did or not — the licence would not have indicated his status in the Bahamas. Although it is stated on the licence that it ”must be in the possession of the holder at all times when driving a vehicle in a public place”, a traffic offender is given the courtesy of 24 hours in which to produce the licence. As far as is known, Mr Fiaux was not even extended that courtesy to produce “his papers”.

Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder was criticised for taking the first opportunity to go to the bank and apologise in person to Mr Fiaux on behalf of the Bahamas. In this matter, Mr Pinder showed good sense. He knows that this incident certainly makes his attempts to attract investment to the Bahamas more difficult. And although Prime Minister Christie has declined to be drawn into the diametrically opposing views of his Ministers of Immigration and Financial Services, he had sense enough to quickly meet with the Association of International Banks & Trust Companies and the Bahamas Financial Services Board in an attempt to calm much troubled financial waters. At this meeting, Deputy Prime Minister “Brave” Davis stood in for Mr Mitchell who was off island. We wonder if Mr Davis has enlightened Mr Mitchell on the grave problem created by his department?

Seems there is already a rift here with Mr Mitchell supporting his officers and the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister/Immigration Minister and Financial Services Minister apologising for them. The financial meeting was adjourned with government having agreed to “discuss the various issues around immigration and labour in light of the recent immigration roundups that have been widely reported”.

Brian Moree, QC, senior partner at McKinney, Bancroft & Hughes, said the Immigration Department’s treatment of Mr Fiaux was “bound to cause” the Swiss bank, a financial services giant, to review its presence in the Bahamas.

Expressing hope that UBS would not overreact, Mr Moree agreed the incident was “counterproductive” and “very damaging” to the Bahamas’ efforts to promote itself as an international financial and business centre.

It would be wise for those Bahamians who do not seem to understand the need for foreign staff with skills that they do not have, and the need for foreign banks — especially those that are not commercial banks — to have their own staff, to decide what future they want for their country and what standard of living they want for themselves.

It would be well to ponder the wisdom of the late Ariel Sharon, who spent his life fighting for the dream of a Greater Israel, only to have to accept in his old age that “if we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all”.

Bahamians will now have to make their own decision as to whether they can maintain the standard of living to which they aspire by rejecting such investors as UBS, or whether they are willing to compromise. They cannot have it both ways. Nor can this country that should be noted as a friendly investment centre absorb another Emmanuel Fiaux-Detention Centre episode.


GQ 7 months, 4 weeks ago

This editorial is right on and nothing needs to be added. The jackasses who want to make it a racial issue are like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who can accomplish nothing for their courntry except stirring up racial hatred.


SP 7 months, 4 weeks ago

This banker caused his own problems by trying to intimidate immigration officers because of who he "THOUGHT HE WAS"....White & untouchable!

He has discredited his company with his behavior and should be chastised by the bank for being a jackass, unable to represent the bank in a professional & favorable manner.

Immigration officials acted according to the law. The jackass banker has been influenced by too many FNM/UBP elites who taught him to disrespect "BLACK AUTHORITY"!

Head office should transfer this idiot to somewhere cold and white where he belongs.

I back Minister Fred Mitchell and Immigration officials actions 100% and would be VERY INTERESTED in hearing from staff of the bank regarding this idiots attitude towards black staff.

We must not allow or tolerate white or black supremacy ideology!

Keep up the good work Immigration and Minister Fred Mitchell....Were behind you 110%!


concernedcitizen 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I wonder what we ga season "black authority " with to make it go down w/ flour pap and swisher ,,


BBBB 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I feel very unwelcome here by immigration every time I enter the airport or have to deal with the government or court services, to say that Bahamian govt employees are unfriendly is a compliment, they are rude, hostel, & anti foreign to say the least. Myself & my dog were viciously attacked by an unknown male& the lady at the magistrate court tried to have me deported & sent immigration to my house shortly after I picked up the order of protection papers. The clerk sent immigration to my rented house, & Ive since moved. Now that Bahamian family isn't getting its rent, on time, from. Now they are out that income because i was unsafe, FROM HOSTILE GOVT!!!! I have to be in fear of civil servants that don't want me, a white America here using the court system to protect myself against a Bahamian. When I went to the police, Dect Fergerson wouldn't even give me the name of my attacker, he said, & I quote, " He has the same rights as u, black or white" WTF. The whole station turned to him. I said, I was told by the courts that in order to protect myself, I need a order for it, but I don't have the right to know my attacker. This country is beautiful, i wish I could say the same for the people in local govt. can't even get a thank you or have a nice day the the grocery store. Ive grew up 1 1/2 outside of Chicago, Ive worked in downtown LA & Only NOW do I know what racism is. Why would people carry their most valuable documents in Nassau? so the could be robbed? Tourist get robbed& murdered here more than anywhere in the Caribbean. Its the most dangerous city in the Caribbean. Being white is a crime.


concernedcitizen 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Your english roots are showing ,still upset the US beat you and got independence ,,,,lmao


VS 7 months, 3 weeks ago

It is unfortunate that you have experienced all of this while living here. I love my country, and as a Bahamian, I have to say that what you speak of has its own credibility (as far as your experiences with Government departments, etc.- WE HAVE TO DO BETTER!). Now, let me tell you about a Black FOREIGNER living in the Southern United States, Mississippi, to be exact, where the Confederate Flag is still flown. It's no walk in the park, either. There are still counties where Blacks are not welcomed. There are restaurants where blacks are refused service. There are police officers who will pull you over for absolutely no reason, except for the color of your skin and the fact that you're in a nice car! I'm talking about all of this occuring in a modern world, with a BLACK President at the forefront of your country! I don't think history supports your notion that being white is a crime, Dear Sir/Madam. And while I do not support mistreatment of any person, regardless of the color of his or her skin, I have to remind you that there are two sides to every coin.


Honestman 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Good editorial. Thank the Lord for the Tribune - the voice of common sense.


sheeprunner12 7 months, 4 weeks ago

It is hard to believe that BBBB is for real??????????????? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, a white American living in The Bahamas taking Bahamian landlords to court, getting order of protection, bein profiled???????????????

Call Shane.................... is Anna Nicole's family on the run in Ova da Hill??????????

If u fa real BBBB ..................... please respond


BahamasExcellentz 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I know of a few million "whites" coming to the island every year that do not have valid ID on them. The cruise ships keep the passports of all there passengers. We need to build bigger detention Centers. These bastards don't have valid ID's. Let's detain all Mr. Mitchel you idiot.


BahamasExcellentz 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Can't believe how stupid these comments are. 70% of our jobs come from tourism and the financial services industry. We will all be fishing if it wasn't for these jobs and there aren't enough fish to support us all. Roughing up a banker is completely unacceptable. This means open season on all tourists and visitors. They will probably react badly to demands for documentation. The cruise ships keep there passports. People on the beach have no ID in there bikini's. Let's detain them all if they get cranky when harassed for documentation. You are the biggest idiots going supporting any sanctioning of this treatment.


John 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The day has to come when a stop is put to foreigners who feel they can come to the Bahamas and do as they please, walk on Bahamians in spike heel shoes and talk to them like they are trash. No other country (that I know of) bends their rules over an again to accommodate non-nationals. When I travelled to the US just recently, the fact that I had currency in a checked bag made me become a suspect of smuggling or being involved in some criminal activity. I had to submit to secondary inspection of myself and my bag. The choice was clear: either you submit to our rules and regulations or you do not enter the Untied States of America. But it was even more serious than that. Since i had already presented myself to their boarder for entrance in to that country, they still had the right to detain me, examine and search me and bring charges against me though I was still in the Bahamas. We have too many persons coming to this country believing the rules of the country are not for them. Some claim to have the PM's cell number of speed dial nd when you check their status in the country from which they came, the only record they have is a criminal one....Bahamas is **not* for sale


pablojay 7 months, 3 weeks ago

As a black Bahamian, it still grieves me to see after all these years , the white anti-foreign attitude that still permeates our country, which was instilled in us by the late Sir Lynden Pindling,which he used mainly for getting votes .,especially from those who were unconcerned with what was going on in our Bahamaland,but were swayed by the rhetoric.To those of that mentality i would like to say that since i am presently unemployed, semi-retired and sixty and have time on my hands , i would join them in a demonstration to send every foreign company,from Atlantis, foreign banks,BahMar,to KFC out of this country forever ! Then once they are gone ,we can smuggle our was to Miami,just like the Haitians.


jackbnimble 7 months, 3 weeks ago

While I do agree that we are anti-foreign in many respects, I believe that Bahamians are more ANTI-ILLEGAL than they are anti-foreign. In my humble view, it would have been more balanced journalism to seek to find out from the Immigration Officers' side of things what really happened instead of just reporting the story from the banker's side (although I believe Mr. Mitchell adhered to it).

If this paper would take the time to read the online blogs and tap into social media, it would see that the vast majority of Bahamians support the actions of the Immigration Department. It's unfortunate that the banker got caught in the crosshairs of a system in which we are trying to clean up an age-old and very vexing illegal immigrant problem (often covered by glaring headlines by this very newspaper) and it's equally sad that we have to resort to such tactics to get illegals out.


proudloudandfnm 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Now that Bahamian family isn't getting its rent, on time, from. Now they are out that income because i was unsafe, FROM HOSTILE GOVT!!!!

BBBB you is most definitely a Bahamian. Stop ya lies....


birdiestrachan 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The Editor of the Tribune is true to form, she has made it her life long work to insult the masses of Bahamians example "They want the luxury of living above their means".

This is who she is, it is to late for her to speak truth instead of hate. it is to bad and to sad . she has lost her credibility.


CoralHarbour 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Indian diplomat arrested and strip searched in New York last month and Americans faced heavy backlash in India subsequently.

John Kerry expressed regret over the incident to Indian officials, much like Ryan Pinder. However, the United States took a position validating the ordeal stating that it was by the 'books' and carried out an investigation to ensure standard operating procedures were followed. Where is the Government's revelation of what transpired? UBS has already released Mr. Fiaux's version of this incident via NG. What are they waiting on?


VS 7 months, 3 weeks ago

If you are a suspected/presumed foreigner in the United States of America, and you are approached by a member of the Law, and found to be without any form of identification, you will be ARRESTED, FINGER-PRINTED, processed and detained until I.C.E is notified! Bahamian college students in the U.S. are advised regularly to have AT LEAST their passport (with a valid Student Visa) with them to avoid any unnecessary issues that may arise (i.e., during a traffic stop). Everyone MUST be accounted for. That is the way the system is organized. This may come as a surprise to (some) expats living here because they are used to a more 'lax' approach as it relates to our law enforcement; BUT, they, like everyone else, must be reminded of the law.


Tarzan 7 months, 3 weeks ago

One more plea for guidance. What form of documentation are legal residents of this country required to carry with them in order to avoid arrest by Mr. Mitchel's immigration officers. Even all the xenophobes who have spewed their anger at non citizen residents of the Bahamas in these comments would surely agree that in a civilized society, one would be informed, before being confronted on the streets, what form of documentation one was supposed to carry. No one representing the immigration department, the government or the news media has provided any information in this regard. You cannot obey the rules if no one is willing to tell you what the rules are.


HolandObserver 7 months, 3 weeks ago

THE UNFORTUNATE detention of Swiss banker Emmanuel Fiaux, executive director of UBS Bank on East Bay Street, reveals how many Bahamians are ignorant of what side their bread is buttered on. They want jobs, they want the luxury of living beyond their means, they want their country to survive its present economic crisis, and yet they nurse their innate prejudice against the white foreigner who is the banker, the investor, the financier – the creator of much of the wealth without which this country could not rise above a fishing village.

This introductory paragraph says it all!!!! The Editor may have a chip on his/her shoulders.


norman_t 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The writer of this column used the word reality. Reality. Have you not been reading the news lately regarding the reality of the bankers in the world? The fact that the biggest banks, basically all banks have been fined billions of dollars. Yes, that's billions with a B. For laundering drug money, for aiding terrorist organizations, for manipulating interest rates, for fraudulent activity regarding home loans and foreclosures. What did you miss where you think that bankers contribute anything to our society. Banking should be a public utility. It is there for the benefit of the society they exist in. They are not here to line their own pockets while having soft hands and no morals. Get a grip, editor. The Bahamians have enough resources, both human and natural to develop this country on their own, without having to pander to the lowest of the low.


Sign in to comment