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Miller: We learned corruption from U.S.

Leslie Miller

Leslie Miller

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

TALL Pines MP Leslie Miller yesterday insisted that the granting of government contracts to political supporters will “never stop” because politicians must “do what they have to do” to win elections.

His statements came despite the US State Department’s scathing report pinpointing the government’s feeble implementation of anti-corruption laws buttressed by a vulnerable contract procurement process.

In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, the senior Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) MP added that if Bahamians “are crooked”, it is because they were taught to be that way from the “damn Americans”.

He insisted that he didn’t put “too much weight” on the newly released report, adding that he viewed it as baseless because “it sure as hell didn’t provide any proof” of its “arbitrary” findings.

Mr Miller, the former minister of trade and industry, said he doubts the report will have any serious implications for the country.

Asked about the government’s bidding process and several instances that have gone public where contracts were given to party supporters, Mr Miller said he viewed it as “political patronage” but not corruption.

He was speaking about the US State Department’s 2015 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in this country. The report, released last week, said the government procurement process was “opaque” given that there was no requirement for open public tenders or allowance for award decisions to be reviewed.

The report noted that there were “frequent” reports of government corruption during the year, but did not give specific examples.

“I don’t put too much weight on the US and what they have to say,” the MP said when contacted by The Tribune. “I pay no attention to them. The report is baseless because they sure as hell didn’t provide any proof.

“If Bahamians are crooked, most people who make you crooked are the damn Americans who you deal with. They are the ones who teach you how to be crooked.

“The US just arbitrarily makes these statements and then people ask for them to show proof and there is none. It is just observations made generally by companies that didn’t get contracts when they felt they should have gotten them.

“Even though a lot of times they insist that the process is being rigged to make sure they get the contract. This is a two-sided affair.”

Mr Miller is the second PLP MP to publicly acknowledge that the party awards contracts to supporters.

In February, Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister V Alfred Gray defended the Christie administration’s decision to award former PLP Cabinet minister Darrell Rolle a construction contract at the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute, saying the government will do as much as it can for the people who supported its members.

Mr Rolle was also reportedly allowed to borrow approximately $200,000 from the Bahamas Development Bank (BDB).

“I wouldn’t call that corruption,” Mr Miller added. “The Free National Movement is just as guilty as the PLP. The FNM gave millions upon millions in contracts to their supporters. It’s not fair and it’s not right but that’s what political parties do when they are being inundated or terrorised by certain people who believe they have a right and that they supposed to get contracts even if they don’t have experience.

“As a minister, you can’t tell supporters or his top fellows on the ground that he can’t do XYZ because as far as he is concerned he can walk on water. There is nothing he cannot do even though they know better because that is the pressure they put on ministers; that you got to give them ABC to enable them to get payback for the work that they did during the general elections. Both parties do it and it ain’t going to ever stop.

“That is just human nature. You help those who help you. That is just the way it is and there is nothing we can do about it.”

Mr Miller added: “You have to do what you have to do to retain those people’s confidence and retain their allegiance to you to make you win again - (there is) nothing wrong with it. It’s not fair but in the world in which we live it’s the norm and it’s going to continue. It will never ever stop and that is just the way it is.”

The US report said Bahamian law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, however the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.

“The procurement process was particularly susceptible to corruption, as it is opaque, contains no requirement to engage in open public tenders, and does not allow award decisions to be reviewed,” it said.

In October, the Office of the Attorney General charged a former state energy-company board member under the Prevention of Bribery Act, the first significant case brought under the act since 1989, the report noted.

Former board member of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, Freddie Solomon Ramsey was charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit bribery and 14 counts of bribery allegedly committed between 1999 and 2003.

On the subject of corruption and government transparency, the Human Rights Practices Report also took issue with the fact that there was no independent verification of annual public disclosures from senior public officials, and called the annual submission rate “weak” unless it was an election year.

Financial disclosures must be turned into the Public Disclosures Commission (PDC) by March each year.

Comments

Economist 6 years, 3 months ago

If we had Freedom of Information together with Open and Transparent bidding for Government contracts there would be a lot less corruption.

The Bahamas would be much better off as well.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 years, 3 months ago

This man lends new meaning to the term disgrace to the human race!

He will also tell us that he slaps women around because others do it and its just human nature.

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Voltaire 6 years, 3 months ago

Well, I will give Leslie this – he always tells it like it really is: “You have to do what you have to do to retain those people’s confidence and retain their allegiance to you to make you win again - (there is) nothing wrong with it. It’s not fair but in the world in which we live it’s the norm and it’s going to continue. It will never ever stop and that is just the way it is.”

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RUKiddingMe 6 years, 3 months ago

Every time this fool opens his mouth he confirms the fact that he lacks both intelligence and integrity!

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EasternGate 6 years, 3 months ago

Spot on ! They are putrid garbage!

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paul_vincent_zecchino 6 years, 3 months ago

Well said. Thank you for speaking truth on behalf of the beautiful Bahamian people.

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sheeprunner12 6 years, 3 months ago

Leslie has a point ............. the USA has been manipulating places in the Caribbean and Latin America ever since the Monroe Doctrine was espoused ........ just look at their involvement with Spanish Cuba, and Puerto Rico, Haiti and Panama and their capitalists who have plundered our small territories from Freeport land to Trinidad oil ...... American big business has paved the way for much corruption in the Caribbean ........ and then there were the American drug cartels and gambling Mafias connection to South America ....... but the US operates on a split-personality policy .... do as I say and not as I do

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realfreethinker 6 years, 3 months ago

Yeah the US taught them but the plp perfected the art.

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sheeprunner12 6 years, 3 months ago

Check transparency.com ............ USA ranks #16 and no Caribbean country is in the top 50 ........... but we are all independent now .... no excuses

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Voltaire 6 years, 3 months ago

sheeprunner12 - Yeah ok... The USA is the most corrupt country in the world, Save The Bays is really a plot to destabilize the government, the Dump Fire protesters are just a bunch of white foreigners with no work permits, etc, etc. Typical PLP shoot the messenger nonsense. Distraction and deflection – anything to duck the truth. The only relevant question here is whether this or not our government is corrupt, and according to Leslie Miller (who should know) it most certainly is. End of story, case closed.

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Voltaire 6 years, 3 months ago

sheeprunner12 - that is because most of the countries in the top 50 have FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACTS, so there is at least some way to approach an accurate reading of corruption over time. Here, we can hide everything and unless there is a whistleblower (hardly ever happens because those in the know are usually also implicated) the truth never comes out. In May 2012, we all know that the art of wrapping up $200 in a party t-shirt reached near perfection, yet the OAS observers said the election was clean. Without transparency, those rankings are meaningless.

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Clamshell 6 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Miller fails to note that from time to time the US actually sends corrupt politicians to prison. When did that ever happen here? If Mr. Miller were American, he would have gone to jail long ago.

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jus2cents 6 years, 3 months ago

The old 'lack of accountability' rearing its head again, has noone in a publicly appointed position got the moral fortitude to simply be accountable? Always someone else's fault, blah, blah, whine, whine.

If you can't recognize the problem you can't fix it! Is it any wonder we are regressing as a nation?

Grow a pair, you self professed wife beater!

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jackbnimble 6 years, 3 months ago

But they do have proof. Don't forget they've been tapping our phones!

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John 6 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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sheeprunner12 6 years, 3 months ago

I know for sure that Leslie Miller better be careful landing on Uncle Sam soil in the near future

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bahamalove 6 years, 3 months ago

Landing?? His US visa probably already cancelled. He will be lucky to get past LPIA.

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timchuck 6 years, 3 months ago

I have never done business in the Bahamas without paying a "commission".

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Observer 6 years, 3 months ago

Who gave government contracts to themselves. Does anybody know? If it is corrupt now it was corrupt then. But, the PEOPLE, who are incorruptible must put a stop to the practise.

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ThisIsOurs 6 years, 3 months ago

Did Leslie Miller just tell me that he's taking my hard earned VAT money to pay someone to vote for him? And there's nothing wrong with that?

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moree1966 6 years, 3 months ago

The fact of the matter is that the P Hell P think they are the supreme being, answers to NO ONE and DO as they please. If you are not park of their "click" you mean jack s@#t to them.

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juju 6 years, 3 months ago

This Leslie Miller is a disrespectful disgrace to our country. He is an example of why our country is in the mess that it is. If he were a man of integrity and honour he would never be saying what was printed in this newspaper. It is downright disgusting and sad. What a sorrowful group of scoundrels this current government is.

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GrassRoot 6 years, 3 months ago

Its not our problem that the U.S. has a corruption problem. However it is not the U.S. problem that The Bahamas as a corruption problem.

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SP 6 years, 3 months ago

...................... Leslie Miller may have allowed himself to be used in a setup .....................

Everyone agrees without question that corruption at the highest levels is the #1 problem plaguing our country and main reason for economic regression in Bahamas.

The US making broad unsubstantiated incriminating statements doesn't pass the smell test!

With shocking frequency numerous world leaders have recently been caught up and exposed in corruption scandals. Having decades of accumulated mountains of evidence of corruption in Bahamas, coupled with recent banks and Panama Papers exposure of collaborating political corruption, it wouldn't surprise me if the US has finally set in motion a clear path to get rid of massively corrupt regime on their doorstep.

Leslie Miller might have well been better off keeping his mouth shut as Hubert Ingraham did when Moody's and the IMF exposed him of being the worst leader in the Hemisphere just months prior to the 2012 election.

The PLP are certainly in no position to debate corruption with the US, as it is an argument they simply cannot win, which can only lead to seriously destabilizing the government prior to 2017 elections.

Regardless of US reasoning, the timing of this accusation suggest there is much more than meets the eye.

One must also be cognizant that the PLP has made enemies of several very well connected multibillionaires which not only cannot possibly work in their favor, but who will solicit powerful US lobbyist and stop at nothing to even the score just because they can!

Leslie Miller has set the perfect stage for the US to elaborate, and totally obliterate the PLP government with damming evidence of corruption.

Brilliant!

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John 6 years, 3 months ago

Actual Previous Highest Lowest Dates Unit Frequency
24.00 22.00 24.00 21.00 2011 - 2014 Yearly
The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. A country or territory's rank indicates its position relative to the other countries and territories in the index. This page provides the latest reported value for - Bahamas Corruption Rank - plus previous releases, historical high and low, short-term forecast and long-term prediction, economic calendar, survey consensus and news. Bahamas Corruption Rank - actual data, historical chart and calendar of releases - was last updated on April of 2016.

Bahamas Business Last Previous Highest Lowest Unit
Ease of Doing Business 106.00 108.00 108.00 59.00 [+] Corruption Index 71.00 71.00 73.00 71.00 Points [+] Corruption Rank 24.00 22.00 24.00 21.00 [+]

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/baham...">http://www.tradingeconomics.com/baham...

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Reality_Check 6 years, 3 months ago

And this man Leslie Miller was the front man who received (with the help of Paul McWeeney and Perry Christie) mega millions of unsecured overdraft advances from Bank of The Bahamas (BoB) for the benefit of himself and other PLP big wigs, leaving it for Bahamian taxpayers and National Insurance fund contributors to bear the losses incurred by BoB as a result of Miller's failure and inability to repay the amounts he borrowed. Then, to add insult to injury, Perry Christie keeps Miller on the public payroll at public corporations at an exorbitant salary so he can throw an occasional bone to BoB that doesn't even dent the millions of dollars of interest accrued and accruing on his unpaid borrowings. Yes, to the likes of Christie, Miller and others like them, all is fair in politics, even the royal financial screwing they give the Bahamian people!

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John 6 years, 3 months ago

The Bahamas is current ranked 24 on the corruption list, which is determined be how corrupt a country's public sector is precieved to be. The lower the score the less corrupt the country is. The US has a rating of 16, and Dennmak, Finland and Sweden holds the top spots as being least corrupt with scores of 1,2 and 3 respectively. Somalia and North Korea has the worst of scores of 167 followed closely by Afghanistan (166). Barbados is the only Caribbean country on the list with a lower score than the Bahamas with a score of 17. Jamaica is pegged at 69, Trinidad at 72, Cuba at 56 and Haiti's level of corruption is rated at 158, yes 158. Other notables are China at 83, Mexico at 95 and Brazil at 76. It may be noted that until recently as 2014, Brazil was said to have the Third most successful and largest economy next only to the US and Canada. The country is now bankrupt due to bribery and corruption. The historic lowest score ever for the Bahamas was 21 (during the Ingraham administration) and it's highest corruption score is 24 which is also its current rating, under the Christie government

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sheeprunner12 6 years, 3 months ago

Boy!!! ............ if we are #24, then I don't want to imagine what goes on in those blow #24 ............ but our problem is that we do not have the proper laws in place to be able to expose corruption (that is worst than those who have the laws and actually indict persons) ....... we cannot even bring them in!!!!!!!

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Taurusbull 6 years, 3 months ago

It's time this ASS shut his STUPID mouth.

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