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Minnis: Name the politicians with delinquent Bank of Bahamas debts

FNM leader Hubert Minnis

FNM leader Hubert Minnis

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

THE FNM yesterday demanded that the government reveal the names of all politicians whose delinquent debts may have contributed to the government’s proposed $100 million bail out of the Bank of The Bahamas (BOB), a move the party dubbed as nothing more than continued political cronyism.

The government is the major shareholder in the bank.

“The government is throwing ‘good money after bad’ in a framework of continued political cronyism and lack of accountability and transparency,”

FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis told reporters at a press conference.

“It is also the view of the opposition that the names of all politicians or politically exposed persons, whose unpaid and delinquent debts have contributed to this financial calamity should be revealed. Any conflicts of interest presently obscured by bank secrecy laws should be brought to light forthwith.”

“There should be full disclosure. Those politically exposed persons should be revealed to the Bahamian people,” Dr Minnis added.

On Friday, Prime Minister Perry Christie announced a plan to help the struggling bank by establishing Bahamas Resolve Ltd, a new state-owned and controlled company that will assume liability for $100 million of BOB’s non-performing commercial loans. The government also plans to hire an accounting firm to pursue the outstanding debts. On the same day BOB released its end-of-year figures which showed a net loss to investors of $69 million, the third successive year it has incurred losses.

This came eight months after reporters pressed Mr Christie on BOB’s financial status – at the time the Prime Minister said “there is absolutely no reason for any fear or concern” about the bank.

Mr Christie said his administration took this route after the Central Bank advised it of an emerging risk stemming from BOB’s outstanding loans.

The government believes the establishment of Bahamas Resolve will mitigate against bad credit risks, improve the bank’s revenue prospects and enhance its shareholder value and financial condition.

In a statement released on Friday, the government said it has “provided liquidity support to BOB through deposits of approximately $65 million.”

Mr Christie said no funds from the Public Treasury and the National Insurance Board have been used in connection with the assignment of the loans to Bahamas Resolve. He added that BOB is now compliant with capital and liquidity requirements of the Central Bank and international standards because of the implementation of Bahamas Resolve.

In the past, BOB has been accused of giving out multi-million dollar unsecured sums to politically-connected Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) supporters.

However, BOB Managing Director Paul McWeeney said on Friday that none of the troubled commercial loans that will be assigned to Bahamas Resolve involve “politically exposed” persons.

He said loans given to politically exposed people are a small fracture of outstanding debt.

Officials blamed BOB’s troubles on the 2008 recession, which caused numerous borrowers to experience difficulty repaying their loans, thereby affecting the profitability of the bank.

Yesterday, the FNM leader said that the need for a bail out “now casts serious doubts upon the prime minister’s earlier words of assurance.”

“The prime minister, as minister of finance, either knew or ought to have known the true state of affairs at the Bank of The Bahamas. If he knew the facts in February, then his assurances were false. If he did not know,then he was in dereliction of duty,” the Killarney MP said.

The party leader also denied the prime minister’s claim that the opposition was consulted about the formulation of the bail out plan.

“The FNM supports the concept of providing necessary support to prevent the collapse of the bank but only upon terms which involve stringent oversight of its operations, accountability for all managers and directors who are responsible, full transparency and the highest ethical and business standards,” Dr Minnis said. “This cozy arrangement announced by the PLP government does not and cannot inspire confidence that millions more in tax dollars will not be wasted by throwing good money after bad management,” he concluded.

For months, FNM Chairman Darron Cash has raised alarm about the state of BOB which had prompted several assuring responses from the government.

In a statement last month, Mr Cash said: “The fact that BOB could not hold a prescribed annual general meeting more than one year after the financial year ended and now wants to ‘double up’ with a two-in-one AGM ... this is failure on a grand scale.”

“The current revelations about the bank’s failed corporate governance and previews of continuing financial losses serve as renewed confirmation of the case that the FNM has been making for more than two years – that the PLP government cannot be trusted to honestly and effectively govern publicly owned and controlled corporations. They believe that the people’s money is their own to do with it as they please. That is why there is never any sense of urgency to demonstrate accountability. This attitude starts at the top with Prime Minister Christie,” Mr Cash said.

Comments

asiseeit 7 years, 9 months ago

It is amazing that Mr. Paul McWeeney still has a job. Once again the Bahamian Taxpayer is getting ripped off. Government has proven itself to be unable to handle the Bahamian peoples money in an honest and trustworthy manner. I wonder if the Bahamian people can take the government to court for willful failure to protect the money and interest of the Bahamian people? This is theft, nothing more, nothing less! Now they want us to pay VAT so they can steal more?

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B_I_D___ 7 years, 9 months ago

...probably all the same ones that have not disclosed their finances as part of the PDA.

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mangogirl01 7 years, 9 months ago

I really don't understand how Mr. McWeeney could have stood there and speak the shit he did without biting his damn tongue! It starts from the top and he's the top!

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ThisIsOurs 7 years, 9 months ago

"Politically exposed" is such a dumb statement in the Bahamas because the street vendor who works in the campaign office and amazingly gets a directorship at ministry of tourism is politically exposed. Ms Reckley at UR who clearly knows nothing about managing anybody is politically exposed. The BIS secretary was politically exposed, the PM told us himself he sought him out "personally". He's told us that he's "helped" many people as he "helped" Ishmael Lightbourne. Are any persons "helped" in default?

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ThisIsOurs 7 years, 9 months ago

I cannot believe that in two years, just two years, they've created such a mess. Just yesterday he was grinning like a Cheshire Cat telling us how he was going to use the peoples money to fly his entire cabinet and staff all over the Bahamas for a one hour meeting. Just yesterday they were banging on their desks grinning telling us what wonderful thing UR was doing for crime. Get real and admit this is too much for your party, resign and dissolve parliament, you're sinking the country.

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duppyVAT 7 years, 9 months ago

This is becoming more incredible by the day!!!!!!!!!! The BOB is 65% publicly- owned. Anyone who is indebted to the BOB is by extension owing the public/citizenry. The shareholders (public) should know. No FOIA, but there are Bahamian whistleblowers who are fed up just like Edward Snowden in the USA.

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SP 7 years, 9 months ago

Dr. Minnis finally struck a cord that I agree with him on. Government has no authority to spend public funds without an accounting for the expenditure.

All those political pirates with outstanding loans should be made exposed.

In fact, if they are unable to repay the loans they must DECLARE BANKRUPTCY which automatically renders them unable to hold political office based on the Constitution!

Get with it Christie. We are not as stupid as you are.

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spoitier 7 years, 9 months ago

He is just being political because politician from both sides are the politically exposed people, Christie can't come back at him and say it because he would be digging his own grave. That is how both party play the game when they are the opposition and when in power the cookie jar is theirs for the picking.

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Honestman 7 years, 9 months ago

Wrong, we are more stupid than he is 'cause we voted him in.

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SP 7 years, 9 months ago

Dr. Minnis' credibility is doubtful at best, and he must also not forget that he has never made a statement or questioned the matter of the former FNM Minister Of Tourism and the missing $5M shell company fiasco.

Politicians cannot be allowed to continue "cherry picking" whenever they want a photo op!

What is good for the goose is good for the gander Dr. Minnis!

Put up or shut up!

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SP 7 years, 9 months ago

Dr. Minnis' credibility is doubtful at best, and he must also not forget that he has never made a statement or questioned the matter of the former FNM Minister Of Tourism and the missing $5M shell company fiasco.

Politicians cannot be allowed to continue "cherry picking" whenever they want a photo op!

What is good for the goose is good for the gander Dr. Minnis!

Put up or shut up!

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ED 7 years, 9 months ago

Whichever gov't wins the next election, let us make it a demand that getting a working FOIA be the first thing on the agenda. Yes, only a small step. A small step towards forcing our Civil Servants to be accountable for decisions made in running the country. Be they FNM or PLP, corruption has to be drawn out from our own parties if we can ever hope for a better country. This beautiful Bahamas needs a fresh start but it starts with YOU and I holding them accountable even when it's the very own party we voted for that has done wrong. My Lord, our children deserve a better Bahamas!

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asiseeit 7 years, 9 months ago

You should be actively trying to get your children out of the Bahamas for their future to hold any promise. This nation is for the criminal and the morally bankrupt. If you have morals, ethics and are honest you do not want to live in this cesspool of a nation. The government of the Bahamas is a FAILURE.

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spoitier 7 years, 9 months ago

That's just it, FNM or PLP don't want it because all of them had their hands in the cookie jar. The only way that the Bahamas would get a FOIA is to put a new party in power and still Bahamians would have to hope that party have the decency to do it because that will make it harder for them to raid the cookie jar.

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duppyVAT 7 years, 9 months ago

We cant demand nothing because its not in the Constitution and we cant force them to be truthful in their promises. Didn't Obama promise "change" and what did the US get????????

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EasternGate 7 years, 9 months ago

Do black people have any shame? McWeeney and Demeritte should have the decency to resign, cause you know wimpy Perry atn't gonna fire them.

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SP 7 years, 9 months ago

White people are more crooked than black people but have the privilege of having their crimes hidden by rich white friends.

Good example is the Tribune pulling the story about $22.5M fraud involving white Bahamian lawyer Jeremy Morris who was imprisoned in Canada last week. I knew Tribune would pull the story so I kept the link handy just for.....YOU!

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ThisIsOurs 7 years, 9 months ago

According to The Globe & Mail, the Quebec government released the results of an audit that found MUHC’s planned deficit of $12-million has ballooned to $115-million – a financial state so precarious that the hospital network has been assigned a special overseer to monitor its spending.

Interesting, this sounds like every fiscal mismanagement story in our country with exception that no real audit is performed, no one goes to jail and no one monitors spending post whistleblowing. Shane Gibson was assigned to the public accounts committee, what bigger slap in the face could they give us? Chipman says its difficult to get everyone together to do their job. I maintain that this is not a "bailout" I reject the characterization. Its a cover up of MASSIVE theft.

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ThisIsOurs 7 years, 9 months ago

Minnis needs to correct his "politicians" criteria. Mr Jarrett was not a politician. Also I'm sure the cry will go out that many of these loans were granted under the Ingraham administration. What I'd like to know is how many large non-collateralized loans were given out under the current board/management. How many were given out after the first delayed financial statement? They have direct responsibility for that

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mangogirl01 7 years, 9 months ago

The granting of big, bad loans started in 2002 after McWeeney became MD, nothing to do with the Ingraham administration!

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ThisIsOurs 7 years, 9 months ago

Ahah. Good to know the source of the problem. He should be gone. Actually, it's a further indictment against the board, they're the ones responsible for reviewing his performance. Where was the Central Bank in all of this????

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TalRussell 7 years, 9 months ago

Comrades I went BOB's offical website:

www.bankbahamas.com

Of course I was curious read their 2014 Financial Report to shareholders, and so should you but while keeping in mind this story's content on financial position of the BOB?

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Baha10 7 years, 9 months ago

Under the Westminster System of Government, resignations would be the order of the day, but alas none, which begs the question what sort of System of Government do we have?!?

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ThisIsOurs 7 years, 9 months ago

How in God's name do we have so many institutions where none of the money adds up? PHA, NIB, BOB, UR. It tells me there's more but no one has blown the whistle as yet.

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digimagination 7 years, 9 months ago

The perfect Bahamian balance sheet... on the left nothing is right and on the right nothing is left! And, guess what, nothing is going to change anytime soon!

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ThisIsOurs 7 years, 9 months ago

I wonder if they thought dropping the story on the weekend would kill it....

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ChaosObserver 7 years, 9 months ago

anytime you have a government, especially in incompetent one such as Bahamas government, involved in ANY business venture (BEC, BTC, BOB, etc etc etc) you will have this inept result. Nothing new, nothing to change.....way to go Bahamas!

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asiseeit 7 years, 9 months ago

We are headed to become another Haiti. The mass migration to other country's has just begun. The Bahamas is a failure! It only took 40 years for Bahamians to destroy The Bahamas, what an achievement. Three cheers for the loosing team (the Bahamian people) and god speed!

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themessenger 7 years, 9 months ago

SP says white people more crooked than black people in this country hiding behind their rich white friends. The Bahamas is a failure, only took us forty years to destroy ourselves??? I guess that's because our governments have been overrun by these tiefin crooked whiteys for the last forty years, the prison bus full of their white children going down town every morning and the white brothers and sisters killing up one another every day. Maybe he's right and all the whiteys should carry their ass along with the Haitians then all will at last will be well in Bahama land.

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B_I_D___ 7 years, 9 months ago

Some of the worst racism I have seen in our Bahamaland is black on black...or black on white...not white to black.

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Emac 7 years, 9 months ago

This shouldn't even be a black or white issue. We love to compare ourselves to other people and other countries every time some scandal is brought to the forefront. The only issue here is someone needs to resign. And sure we gat crooked people that are black, white, yellow and brown. What is important is that whenever these people commit crimes in other countries they are punished in some form or the other. In the Bahamas they are promoted and they get even more perks. Incidentally, I am black and I would trust doing business with a 'white' Bahamian anyway over a black one.

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ThisIsOurs 7 years, 9 months ago

I'm with you, (except for the last part. I judge people on what they do and how they treat people, good and nasty people come in all shades)

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B_I_D___ 7 years, 9 months ago

So very true...can be trouble makers of all shades, shapes and sizes.

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Emac 7 years, 9 months ago

Just talking from experience. Until the blacks in this country can prove themselves to be trustworthy I would never change my stance.

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ThisIsOurs 7 years, 9 months ago

I'm betting what you're seeing is a factor of proportion. Ratio of black to white is greater. White people aren't all good and black people aren't all bad. But looking at outward appearance is something we do naturally.. It's probably why white collar crime nets more than blue collar. We're watching the wrong people.

If you change "until the blacks in this country" to "until the politicians in this country", I'd agree 100%

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Emac 7 years, 9 months ago

Very interesting argument. And you're right. It really is the politicians that are in the limelight when is comes to lack of trust.

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