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At Least Eight Failed To File Disclosures

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DID NOT FILE: Deputy FNM leader Loretta Butler-Turner

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MISSED DEADLINE: Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Staff Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

AT least eight government ministers have not filed their public disclosures for this year as mandated by law, according to their own admissions.

Only nine out of 38 members of Parliament have confirmed to The Tribune that their financial disclosures are up to date. According to the Public Disclosures Act, the disclosures must be turned into the Public Disclosure Commission by March each year, documenting assets and liabilities of the previous year.

According to the Public Disclosures Act, a summary of the declarations shall be published in a gazette and any person who does not comply with the law is liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than two years.

WHAT THEY SAID

Dr Perry Gomez: “No, I’m about to get it done. It’s just for this year [2013].”

Hope Strachan: “Yes, I am up to date 100 per cent.”

Cleola Hamilton: “Very much yes.”

Damien Gomez: “If my accountant honours his promise, it will be done by Wednesday. For this year and last year, because it was filed incorrectly last year.”

Edison Key: “I’m up to date as far as I know. I filed 2013 from long time.”

Dr Danny Johnson: “As of this Wednesday, I should be completely up to date.”

Jerome Fitzgerald: “I’m pretty sure I’m up to date. I filed for this year.”

Shane Gibson: “I haven’t filed for 2013 yet, but I’m current.”

Greg Moss: “My personal position is that in the same way that disclosure of personal information on your car decal on your windshield opens persons up to being stalked, I think that’s dangerous information. I’m totally for disclosure, but to a central agency on application showing a reasonable cause. I’ve done it but I don’t think it’s wise.”

Dion Smith: “I’ll have to check my accountant, and get back to you.”

If a Parliamentarian deliberately does not disclose property owned in the Bahamas, the land can be seized and forfeited to the government.

Members of Parliament were polled by The Tribune on the status of their annual reports outside the House of Assembly yesterday.

Prime Minister Perry Christie did not take questions from the media. However, the following parliamentarians had no comment when asked about the status of their disclosures: Bain and Grants Town MP Dr Bernard Nottage, minister of national security; Gaming Board Chairman and Fort Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins; and FNM MPs Neko Grant and Richard Lightbourn, who represent Central Grand Bahama and Montagu, respectively.

Deputy Prime Minister Brave Davis was unsure about the status of his disclosures and told The Tribune the papers should be filed this week - if it had not already been done.

Mr Davis was joined by Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez, Central & South Eleuthera MP, and Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr Daniel Johnson, Carmichael MP, who also said they hoped to bring their disclosures up to date in a matter of days.

Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis, MP for Golden Isles, admitted that he had missed the deadline for disclosure, but said the documents will be filed “any day now”.

Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle said he did not know if his disclosures were filed, adding that it was a “matter of public record”.

Yesterday, Yamacraw MP Melanie Griffin, minister of social services, said she was also working on her disclosures as a matter of priority, but had still not completed her annual reports.

Golden Gates MP Shane Gibson, minister of labour; North Andros and Berry Islands MP Perry Gomez, minister of health; Pineridge MP Dr Michael Darville, minister of Grand Bahama and Marco City MP Gregory Moss all said that they were up to date for 2012’s filing as far as they could recall - but had not filed yet for 2013.

FNM MP for St Anne’s Hubert Chipman said he will be up to date after he files his disclosures today.

The following MPs said that they were up to date with their disclosures: House Speaker Dr Kendal Major, Garden Hills; Jerome Fitzgerald, Marathon; Renward Wells, Bamboo Town; Hope Strachan, Sea Breeze; Cleola Hamilton, South Beach MP; and FNM MPs Theo Neilly, North Eleuthera; and Edison Key, Central and South Abaco.

Nassau Village MP Dion Smith; and Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Transport, said they were unsure over their status, and could not confirm yesterday.

Mr Smith, deputy House speaker, said: “I’ll have to check my accountant and get back to you.”

Although the disclosures are meant to be published in a national gazette, Mr Moss told The Tribune the information should only be accessible to the media and wider public by request to a central agency. He said that it was unwise to release the information indiscriminately without reasonable cause, but noted that he was compliance with the law.

Mr Moss said: “My personal position is that in the same way that disclosure of personal information on your car decal on your windshield lets someone look up your name and address (which) opens persons up to being stalked, I think that’s dangerous information. I’m totally for disclosure, but to a central agency on application showing a reasonable cause. I’ve done it but I don’t think it’s wise (to release it widely to the public).”

Last week, Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr Hubert Minnis renewed calls for the government to publish the financial disclosures of parliamentarians. He said that he has complied with the law.

At that time, FNM MP for East Grand Bahama Peter Turnquest confirmed that he was up to date on his disclosures.

Dr Minnis told The Tribune that he had yet to see a single report from the PDC this term. Dr Minnis, as leader of the Opposition, is entitled to the PDC’s report before it is publicly gazetted.

FNM Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner admitted that she had not filed her annual financial disclosures since 2012.

Members of Parliament and Senators are required by law to file annual disclosures of their assets and liabilities.

The Tribune was unable to reach the following parliamentarians yesterday: Fred Mitchell, Fox Hill; Kenred Dorsett, Southern Shores; V Alfred Gray, MICAL; Obie Wilchcombe, West End and Bimini; Ryan Pinder, Elizabeth; Picewell Forbes, South Andros; Leslie Miller, Tall Pines; and Anthony Moss, Exuma and Ragged Island.

When contacted on the lack of disclosures, former PLP Cabinet Minister George Smith criticised what he described as a “relaxing” of Parliamentary laws and standards.

He added that the House of Assembly picked up “bad habits” after 1992, which have led to widespread tardiness of members, and the colloquialisation of established institutions.

Mr Smith said: “I cannot understand why politicians could so easily ignore the law when the genesis of that Act came about in a time when there was great heartache and people needed the sense that politicians had to disclose their finances - as the case in most responsible countries.”

“It is required by law but I think one of the tragedies after 1992 was this sense of relaxing things, and politicians just decided well I’m not going to bother with it. But they criticise the public and encourage the police to pick up criminals for theft,” he added.

Comments

Sickened 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Who in their right mind would vote again for these law breaking MP's? This same topic has come up again and again and these same fools say "they forgot"; "I'm not sure, let me check"; "I ga do it today"; "I ga do it this week". No wonder there is so much sympathy for the murderer's among us. All they need to tell the judge is "I ga stop"; "I ain't gon' do it again". Our MP's and judges have so much dirt on them they can't possibly point fingers at others. Our country is like one big fat criminal organization from top to bottom, side to side. Which governmental gang do you vote for?

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TalRussell 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Comrades talk about MP's on both sides da House of Assembly practicing Voodoo Economics where you tax the hell out of the poor peoples while you run your mouths while dodging a $10,000 fine or 2 years up at Her Majesty's Fox Hill Prison. The poor needs scrap together enough dollars to buy one them dolls that can give them some that Voodoo religious economics protection. Minnis says he doesn't care who it is, if the have not filed their Financial Disclosure Statements, da poloceman's need arrest them and the judge should sent them up to Her Majesty's Fox Hill Prison. But I guess you can run for the leadership of the red shirts, from ya jail cell? So much for the party who so loves calling for harsh jail sentences? '

Bahamaland's MP's got da Voodoo Religious Economics Protection

.......//https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KboGZTeeWc

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Honestman 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The arrogance of these politicians is beyond the pale. They treat the electorate with utter contempt with their unwillingness to abide by the laws of the land and then we wonder why The Bahamas is such a lawless country? We ask perfectly legitimate questions of our politicians such as how much will NHI cost to implement and we are told by Shane Gibson to effectively mind our own business, that we will be told all in good time. I guess we have to mind our own business too with his non-declaration under the Public Disclosure Act? Why do Bahamians continue to re-elect politicians who disregard our rights like this? It's akin to a wife who continually returns to an abusive husband. Why don't we respect ourselves more and kick these abusers out of the House?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I must laugh at the concerns expressed by Greg Moss about his privacy. You want privacy Mr. Moss, then don't run for public office! I haven't heard Mr. Moss speak out about any concerns he may have about Bahamian voters being spied on by our very own NSA in addition to the U.S. NSA. Nor has Mr. Moss expressed any concern about all of the banking information of non-American Bahamian men and women that will be turned over to the IRS under FATCA by his fellow MP Ryan Pinder just because their spouse is a U.S. citizen residing with them here in the Bahamas and they happen to have one or more Bahamian dollar joint bank accounts. Mr. Moss needs to be less concerned about his own privacy rights being trampled on (as a public figure) and much more concerned about the egregious violations of the privacy rights of everyday non-American Bahamians.

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Publius 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Exactly - his assets, liabilities and income both in and out of The Bahamas are not private to him anymore, and must be disclosed by law. If he doesn't want the public to know that information, resign from Parliament and then his privacy in that regard can be returned to him.

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Fitmiss 3 months, 2 weeks ago

You cannot get your own house and files in order but you are in charge of thousands of constituents and government funds? Please sweep in front of your own front door so to speak, before you can stand on your high horse and make demands of us and impose taxes on us. I am not asking for perfection from my MP's, just less hypocrisy. So what will be the consequences?

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The_Oracle 3 months, 2 weeks ago

They so covet the power of office, but undermine the very structure that provides for their existence. Yes, we will vote for them again and again, because most of us follow their horrible example. No matter the tribal colors you wear, we all bear responsibility for our own demise. Throw the rules out and see how well things turn out, as we are already more than halfway there.

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sheeprunner12 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Agree with all of the above comments............. monkey see monkey do. Lead by example from Perry right on down.

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TalRussell 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes, the Haitian votes are well influenced positioned but will not be the deciding factor, come 2017. Comrades I have never been one to buy into the suggestion that Bahamalanders are divided up between supporting the red and gold shirts. It is blatantly disingenuous statements made by politicians from both sides of the House of Assembly that will motivate the "silent majority" to become vocal. NO political party can win anything, if it can not win over the votes of the real deciding factor come 2017, the votes of the silent Bahamalanders. They showed up at the polling stations to remove PM Christie in 2007 and Papa in 2012.

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GrassRoot 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Hello!!! Where is the never failing Judiciary? Are All Public Prosecutors on vacation?

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John 3 months, 2 weeks ago

as chicken little would say, ""Help, help, the sky is falling!".

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TalRussell 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Maybe with the new Englishman in charge at the Tribune, the reds may be on verge of losing their main newspaper's mouthpiece? Maybe the Tribune is about to turn "Super Value" Green? Wow, my dear Comrades with this revelation by the Tribune this is the very first time both reds and gold shirts politicians, are receiving equal billing at the peoples smack'in bench. This is good ... like juicy good.

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SP 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Bring Hubert Ingraham back.

At least we know for sure he hates Bahamians, is a certified nut job and not to expect anything sensible out of him!

Looks like the "Little Naked Emperor" passed his challis of wacko coolaid around the PLP before running for the bush whence he came.

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DillyTree 3 months, 2 weeks ago

If the lawmakers can ignore and break the law, how the hell can they expect the common people to follow and abide by the law that they themselves flaunt and ignore?

Put them in jail until they comply. Treat contempt with contempt. Let's see how arrogant they are after a few nights in Fox Hill.

(And before General Crazy gets in a tizzy -- I mean ALL of them -- I don't care what party they represent. Lawbreakers are lawbreakers. Period.)

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generalcrazy 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Greg Moss said what? if he wants to live "off the grid" then don't enter "public" office

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akbar 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Let's be honest after having all this information then what. This is a futile waste of time. Read the laws about disclosure it still left in the hands of the PM. This just a smokescreen to give us some sort of semblance to a Freedom of Info Act. After finding out how much an MP is worth then what? How will this information help us?

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sheeprunner12 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Agreed.......... all it does is make them a further target for criminals or desperate beggars. The only thing that I am concerned about is how can an MP starts off with five-figure worth and after five years declare seven-figures?????? and they cry about having to pay constituents' bills, run office, pay staff and generals, run constituency programmes etc?????? So how do they increase their net worth based on these MP salaries?????

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The_Oracle 3 months, 2 weeks ago

This is but a small part of the transparency we lack, historically since 1968 these filings also show questionable enrichment in office for many. None have ever ben prosecuted, which ads to the problem and the air of immunity they so blatantly enjoy at our expense. Questioning these requirements also show just how ill suited to public office some are.

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asiseeit 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The M.P's are a law unto themselves and they DO NOT CARE. They are failures in real life who are parasite's of the Nation. Is it ant wonder this country is such a FAILURE! Look at the CLOWNS that run this joke of a country.

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generalcrazy 3 months, 1 week ago

Politicians are in it to make money for themselves and their friends. There is no love of country, cause if there was they would do it for free.

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sheeprunner12 3 months, 1 week ago

Anyone can you volunteer any of our leaders for the Most Honest Politician Award?????

There have been hundreds of MPs and Senators since Independence ..... a large pool of candidates to choose from....... LOL

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