By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
ATTORNEY General Allyson Maynard-Gibson yesterday remained tight-lipped about a Bahamas Electricity Corporation bribe allegation, expressing concerns that further public comments could harm the future of the government’s expected probe into the matter.
She declined to reveal specifically when Bahamians could expect an update from the government on the claims.
Last week, she told The Tribune that the Attorney General’s Office requested information from the US government regarding the bribery allegations.
She reiterated that the government was taking the matter “very seriously”.
Mrs Maynard-Gibson spoke briefly on the situation at Government House following the swearing in of Hartman Longley as the new chief justice of the Bahamas.
She said: “There will only be comments on this very important matter as and when appropriate. It is inappropriate at this stage of the proceedings to make any comment. It might jeopardise the future of the proceedings.
“I can assure the public that as and when appropriate, comments will be made and I reassure the public that this matter is being taken very seriously.”
When asked if she was at all concerned about the public’s perception that the Christie administration was dragging its feet on investigating the bribe claims, the attorney general insisted that a month was not an “inordinate amount of time” to have dealt with it.
“We want to be thorough about the process. I would ask the public to be patient and also to judge this administration, not just the political administration, but the administration that is operating the Attorney General’s Office at this time on its record.
“I certainly have never hesitated to account for my performance and my officers’ performance to the public and I will not ever hesitate on my responsibility to account.”
In December, Tribune Business revealed that French energy company Alstom (formerly ABB) 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.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson, who had ministerial oversight of the electricity corporation at the time of the allegations, last week expressed his “difficulty” with the situation to The Tribune.
He has maintained that he did not know of any controversy surrounding the purchase of the generator, or the events that allegedly took place between 1999 and 2001.
He said last week: “I cannot envision who they’re talking about (that) would have done that. It does not strike me as anybody there that I know would have been engaged with that.”
In December, Alstom pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $772,290,000 fine to resolve charges 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 claimed that Alstom falsified records, ultimately paying millions in bribes for help in obtaining more than $4 billion in projects, including the Bahamas.
It was said that a Bahamian official was paid more than $300,000 to help secure a BEC contract for Alstom.
The alleged bribe was made between 1999 and 2001, during the time of the former Ingraham administration.