By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
BISHOP Simeon Hall yesterday called for Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson to “apply her concept of Swift Justice” in pressing criminal charges against the Bahamian official named in a US plea deal who allegedly received bribes to secure contracts with the Bahamas Electricity Corporation.
Bishop Hall, pastor emeritus of New Covenant Baptist Church, said the government’s probe into the matter “doesn’t seem to be moving” and “lends weight to the perception that the law only works against the poor and lowest in our society”.
He called for Mrs Maynard-Gibson to personally provide an update on the matter.
Bishop Hall’s statements came eight months after this newspaper exclusively revealed that French 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.
Last week, State Legal Affairs Minister Damian Gomez said the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is working diligently to prosecute the individual in question, whom he said is known to officials. He said officials at the DPP are still gathering evidence to strengthen the Crown’s case.
Mr Gomez also said that while the government has been heavily criticised for being slow to prosecute the individual, the process is not so simple as to just compel the alleged bribe taker to appear before a magistrate and have the person charged.
Additionally, Mr Gomez said that a large portion of the evidence remains in the United States. He said American officials are expected to soon have these key pieces of information sent to Nassau, but he could not reveal when this will happen.
Yesterday, however, Bishop Hall said it has been “long enough to bring some resolution to it.”
He added: “I make a call on the Honourable Allyson Maynard-Gibson, attorney general, to apply her concept of Swift Justice to the allegations.”
“Swift justice is a noble concept, but in this case it doesn’t seem to be moving and lends weight to the perception that the law only works against the poor and lowest in our society,” he added. “This incident is supposed to have happened some time ago, and I make a call that the minister will update the society on this matter.”
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. The person in question allegedly accepted $325,000 in bribes between 1999 and 2003.
However, none of those involved in the scheme is named in court documents.
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, has previously 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.