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‘Diligent’ Work On Bec Bribe Probe

FORMER State Minister for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez.

FORMER State Minister for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez.

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

STATE Legal Affairs Minister Damian Gomez yesterday said the Department of Public Prosecutions is working diligently to prosecute a Bahamian official who allegedly accepted $325,000 in bribes to influence Bahamas Electricity Corporation contracts to a French company between 1999 and 2003.

He said while the government has been heavily criticised for being slow to act on prosecution, this is not the case. Mr Gomez told The Tribune that the process is not so simple as to just compel the alleged bribe taker to appear before a magistrate and have the person charged.

Mr Gomez said officials know who the alleged bribe taker is, however he was not at liberty to say because officials at the Department of Public Prosecutions are still gathering vital evidence to strengthen the Crown’s case.

In addition, the Central and South Eleuthera MP said that a large portion of the evidence remains in the United States.

American officials are expected to soon have these key pieces of information sent to Nassau, he said. However, Mr Gomez could not reveal when this will happen.

“They are quite aware of who the person is although I am not at liberty to say,” Mr Gomez said, responding to questions from The Tribune. “However, in a short period of time, once the evidence comes from the United States, we will be in a better position to move forward.

“To my knowledge, the director of prosecutions is diligently doing what is required to put the office in the position to prosecute but a lot of the evidence is abroad. So it’s not as simple as just bringing the person before the Magistrate’s Court and having them charged.

“This is a serious matter and we are doing all that is necessary to ensure that everything is done and handled properly,” he added.

Last December, Tribune Business exclusively revealed that French energy company Alstom (formerly ABB) allegedly paid more than $300,000 to a government official to secure the purchase of a slow diesel generator for the electricity company nearly 15 years ago.

The bribery claims were unearthed in a $722m plea agreement between Alstom and the United States Justice Department on the matter, which is related to a widespread scheme involving tens of millions of dollars in bribes in countries around the world, including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Bahamas.

It was revealed that the French company allegedly hid payments to Bahamian officials, routing them through an American consultant who was a “close personal friend” of one person able to “influence” the awarding of BEC contracts.

However, none of those involved in the scheme is named in court documents.

Following the revelation, former Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson, who at the time had the electricity corporation in his portfolio, expressed “difficulty” with the situation.

Mr Watson has maintained that he was unaware of any controversy surrounding the purchase of the generator, or the events that allegedly took place between 1999 and 2001, while the FNM was in office.

In June, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson said the investigation had not yet been completed, adding that local police were working with legal officials on the case. She said that despite making significant progress, more work was needed.

The FNM has been adamant over the last few months that Mrs Maynard-Gibson should not linger in moving forward with criminal charges.

Former BEC Chairman J Barrie Farrington has since called for “the chips to fall where they may” in any investigation into the claims.

Mr Farrington, who held the chairmanship at the time the alleged bribes were paid, pledged that he would not relent in seeking to unmask the alleged bribe taker, and urged the government to appoint a “non-partisan commission” to investigate the bribery claim.

Comments

BDN 4 years, 7 months ago

It needs to come out about everyone! On both sides. Tired of this foolishness. I wish we had some decent politicians in office who would just leak everything!

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shortpants 4 years, 7 months ago

Yes why not start with the PM and come down the ladder .This with Loretta and Hubert sound kind of personal. We know for sure PLP stinks to HELL .You done start off wrong .We the public is watching and waiting. And take that sob look off your face .Because we know this is yet another one off you'll lets wait and see ,and than everyone is free to carry on with business as usual .

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Hogfish 4 years, 7 months ago

What?! Don't stop there. Start with Lady SLOP! they say she got $180 million hiding somewhere! Bring that back to the people and for the children in schools!

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proudloudandfnm 4 years, 7 months ago

So here's how this will go down.

PLP will use this during campaign, we'll see a hunt like none other but we will never see any prosecutions. After elections it'll all go away......

LOL.....

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Bahamian_in_London 4 years, 7 months ago

While it is good that there is the prospect that someone will be prosecuted for corruption, Gomez looks like he is going after the FNM only.

We need an independent body who can chase prosecutions regardless of what party they are members of.

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asiseeit 4 years, 7 months ago

They better go after the traitors money as well. The bribe taker caused Bahamians to suffer so we want to see him/her suffer as well and the best way to do that to a greedy SOB like the bribe taker is to go after their money. He/she sold us out for personal gain, we want ten times what the gained to go to the public purse. Bahamians are sick and tired of these greedy politicians!

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Wideawake 4 years, 7 months ago

I cannot see how it could possibly take from last December to now for information to be passed from the USA government to the Bahamian government. Someone is deceiving the Bahamian people.

The reports of the Bahamian bribe-taker(s) originated from the plea bargain between Alstom and the USA government. Obviously with an fine of $722 million, Alstom would have been been forced to "spill the beans", ALL of the beans!! They would not have been allowed to protect anyone's identity, or hide the details of exactly how the bribery was done. They undoubtedly were made to sign a full disclosure document that names and shames the perpetrator(s), and which details ALL of the sordid details of the involvement of the Bahamian bribe-taker(s).

We were told months ago that the AG's office knew who the culprit(s) was/were, how much they got, and when they got it. How much harder is it to obtain the last few details and haul the culprit(s) into court?

The long delay fosters the perception that the Bahamas government is NOT SERIOUS about bribery and corruption!! Yet another incident besmirching our reputation! Why didn't the AG jump all over this, "pay her staff the overtime" and get this case into court months ago?

Is a member of the PLP/FNM "CORRUPTOCRACY" being protected??? Does the international reputation of the Bahamas regarding corruption not matter to this government??? Is the AGs Office so inefficient that they just cannot get their work done???, did the culprit use his ill-gotten gains to buy someone's silence?? did the "files go missing" once again?? did the culprit threaten to say what he knows regarding OTHER political operative's crimes, or is the AG simply holding back this pressing case, in order to use it when it would provide the maximum benefit to the PLP????

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Sickened 4 years, 7 months ago

All of the above. The culprit has plenty dirt that neither party wants aired. He/she is that little pebble that is holding up a landslide.

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asiseeit 4 years, 7 months ago

The government does not care about what international investors think of it, everyone with half a brain KNOWS The Bahamas is a corrupt cesspool. This is why if Izzy does not have the proof of this he is an idiot. I would have been recording all the side deals, extortion, and corruption from day one to protect myself. It is not that hard to do.

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TruePeople 4 years, 7 months ago

WideAwake: "We were told months ago that the AG's office knew who the culprit(s) was/were, how much they got, and when they got it. How much harder is it to obtain the last few details and haul the culprit(s) into court?"

Web of Lies. Nothing they say seems to be honest or true

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MonkeeDoo 4 years, 7 months ago

It should be possible under the USA Freedom of Information legislation for anyone to discover who this bribe taker is and spill the damned bean's here. This talk of getting all the evidence together is bullshit - sorry. They know who it is and don't want to say and probably don't want to prosecute either. We have to keep the heat on the AG. Even if it drags her down too. The Bribe Taker probably has some beans that can be spilled too !!! God don't like ugly !

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