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The Mps Who Failed To Disclose

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Who has disclosed - and who hasn’t?

Perry Christie (PLP) - Would not say

Philip “Brave” Davis (PLP) - Unsure if 2015 has been filed

Fred Mitchell (PLP) - No, asked for an extension

Michael Halkitis (PLP) - No, documents “in the mail”.

Damian Gomez (PLP) - No, awaiting documents from bank

Ken Dorsett (PLP) - No, awaiting documents from bank

Leslie Miller (PLP) - No

Khaalis Rolle (PLP) - No

Danny Johnson (PLP) - No

Allyson Maynard-Gibson (PLP senator) - Yes

Melanie Griffin (PLP) - Yes

Glenys Hanna Martin (PLP) - Yes

V Alfred Gray (PLP) - Yes

Kendal Major (PLP) - Yes

Hope Strachan (PLP) - Yes

Anthony Moss (PLP) - Yes

Hubert Minnis (FNM) - Yes

Peter Turnquest (FNM) - Yes

Loretta Butler-Turner (FNM) - Yes

Hubert Chipman (FNM) - Yes

Richard Lightbourn (FNM) - No, but it is “being handled.”

Andre Rollins (FNM) - No, promised to be done by this week

The following members of Parliament could not be reached: Bernard Nottage (PLP); Dion Smith (PLP); Cleola Hamilton (PLP); Jerome Fitzgerald (PLP); Shane Gibson (PLP); Ryan Pinder (PLP); Picewell Forbes (PLP); Perry Gomez (PLP); Michael Darville (PLP); Neko Grant (FNM); Renward Wells (FNM); Theo Neilly (FNM); Edison Key (FNM).

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

AT least 10 members of Parliament have failed to file financial declarations by the March 1 deadline as required by the Public Disclosure Act, according to the MPs who were polled by The Tribune.

When asked about the issue last week, Prime Minister Perry Christie did not answer questions on whether he was in breach of the law. Instead, he deflected to another matter.

“Why do you want to talk to me about that?” Mr Christie asked when he was questioned by this newspaper.

“You know I don’t give interviews outside of the Cabinet Office any more. But I am working on a few big things so give me a day or two.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis said he was unsure, but added that he would check the status of his disclosures with his accountant.

Mr Davis said: “I know I signed something a couple of weeks ago but I am not sure if it was for this year or last year. I will check with my accountant.”

This comes amid increased calls from the public for elected officials and senators to face penalties for failing to file the annual financial declarations. It also follows a recent US State Department report that highlighted the subject of corruption and government transparency.

The 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in this country further took issue 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.

According to the Public Disclosure Act, a summary of the declarations shall be published in a gazette and any person who does not comply with the law is liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than two years.

If a parliamentarian deliberately does not disclose property owned in The Bahamas, the land can be seized and forfeited to the government.

Speaking to The Tribune yesterday, Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) Chairman Myles Laroda was adamant that the decision to prosecute someone for breaching the act is left up to the discretion of the Office of the Attorney General.

Explaining that the commission’s power is “basically limited to writing,” Mr Laroda maintained that the attorney general would have to give the nod on whether a member of Parliament or top ranking civil servant would face charges over failing to adhere to the stipulations in the Public Disclosure Act.

However, he revealed that there were a “few” MPs and senators who have not declared for the year 2014 and there were even more of them that were “outstanding” for the year 2015.

The Tribune contacted Mr Laroda after polling the majority of this country’s 38 members of Parliament on whether they were current in filing the financial documents.

Disclosures

Some MPs said they had not filed yet and attempted to explain.

Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell told The Tribune that while he had asked for his deadline for the 2015 disclosure period to be extended to next month, all previous years had been filed.

When questioned last week, State Finance Minister Michael Halkitis told this newspaper that his documents “were in the mail”.

Central and South Eleuthera MP Damian Gomez along with Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett said they were both awaiting documents from their respective banks in order to submit the financial declarations.

Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller said he had completed his form a few months ago but had yet to submit the information.

Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle insisted that his information was being finalised and would be filed in the coming week. Youth Sports and Culture Minister Danny Johnson said he was just waiting for a notary to sign off on his documents.

Attorney General Allyson Maynard Gibson said she was filed and up to date. Others who said they were up to date with their declarations include Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin, Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna Martin, Agriculture Minister V Alfred Gray, House Speaker Dr Kendal Major, Financial Services Minister Hope Strachan and Exuma MP Anthony Moss.

The Tribune attempted to contact several other government MPs numerous times but the calls, emails and text messages went unanswered. They were Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage, Deputy House Speaker Dion Smith, South Beach MP Cleola Hamilton, Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald, Labour and National Insurance Minister Shane Gibson, Elizabeth MP Ryan Pinder, Central and South Andros MP Picewell Forbes and Health Minister Dr Perry Gomez.

Grand Bahama MP Dr Michael Darville was said to be out of the country when his office was contacted.

On the Official Opposition side, Free National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis, Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest, Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner and St Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman said they had filed and were in line with the mandates of the Public Disclosure Act.

Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn said his was “being handled”.

When contacted about his, Fort Charlotte MP Andre Rollins said he had not filed his disclosures but that it would be handled before the House of Assembly convened today.

The remaining opposition MPs could not be reached, including Central Grand Bahama MP Neko Grant, Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells, North Eleuthera MP Theo Neilly and Central and South Abaco MP Edison Key.

Inconsistent

Responding to questions over why the government had not been consistent with ensuring the disclosures were made public by way of gazette, as outlined in the law, Mr Laroda stressed that this was the job of the Cabinet Office. Financial disclosures were last made public in 2012, an election year.

He said: “With regards to the actual publication, I think that they are up to 2013 that are needing publication now. The Public Disclosure Commission as an entity we don’t do the publication because first of all we don’t have a budget.

“The actual publication is done by the Cabinet Office. So we would send the files down there (and) all of the statements that will be up to the Cabinet Office.”

He added: “Those who have not complied with the Public Disclosure Act, our job is to write to them and to remind them that it is law that they fill out these disclosures. Our powers are limited to basically writing.

“There are others who have made statements that you could lock up this one and lock up that one, (but) in the act it said nothing could be done without the attorney general so you are able to form your own opinion with regard to that.

“(And) before that is even done that information has to be cleared with the attorney general so it isn’t as if we go around locking up people because they are in breach of the act.”

While he did not go into specifics over the status of each MP, Mr Laroda said it was the norm for MPs to fall behind by at least a year.

“I’ll say this, they usually run a year behind. Up to year 2013, those declarations I think they have been sent up to the Cabinet Office to be (published in a) gazette. There are a few who have not declared for the year 2014.

“And there are more that are outstanding for the year 2015. They had up to March 1 of this year to make those declarations. It’s more of them who haven’t declared in 2015, but very few for 2014, virtually everyone (has filed) for 2014.

“I know some envelopes have come in that we haven’t opened up just yet that we haven’t gotten around to. So that may drive the number down even more with regards to that.”

Mr Laroda added: “I think one of the main problems that I have experienced from last year that is coming from PLPs and FNMs alike, or even civil servants, is getting the banking information. Filling out the form ain’t the problem, but they would be required to submit banking information from their bank and that could run anywhere from weeks to months.”

In 2014, Mr Christie informed the House of Assembly that the PDC had expressed concern over the widespread failure of officials to comply with legislation mandating the turnover of annual financial declarations.

At the time Mr Christie said the PDC reported that “a number” of present and former parliamentarians and senators, along with senior public officers, had failed to submit declarations as mandated by law.

Comments

ThisIsOurs 3 years, 1 month ago

Madams Editor please work on those emoticons, I need one for ROTFL

"Mr Davis said: “I know I signed something a couple of weeks ago but I am not sure if it was for this year or last year. I will check with my accountant.”

Maybe he signed the documents for the sale of the Bahamas...who knows?

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Required 3 years, 1 month ago

He probably signed a memo ordering an underling to sign an unauthorised letter of intent for the sale of the 242...

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Godson 3 years, 1 month ago

Boy you noticed that just like me and my thoughts were the same. How the hell can he be taken to be a considered person to be handling the crucial affairs of our Country.

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TigerB 3 years, 1 month ago

Well some form of public disclosure finally, thank you Tribune!!

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Sickened 3 years, 1 month ago

"Documents in the mail". I love it!!! Who in their right mind would send something so important and which comes with penalties if not filed on time, in the mail? Wouldn't you want a stamped copy of your submission for your personal files?

I tell you, even our smarter politician's are absolute morons!

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Godson 3 years, 1 month ago

Sorry but you are not quite correct here. I would send it by registered mail. Legally it is deemed to have been received at the very time I send it.

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quava 3 years, 1 month ago

why not send it to get it to the proper place on time, is "on time" a foreign concept to the Bahamian leadership, as in opening Baha Mar "on time"

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 1 month ago

This is the same attitude and attention that they give to being accountable with OUR money ..... and we are to take our politicians serious??????? ...... but we put them there

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cmiller 3 years, 1 month ago

Good investigative reporting, tribune!!!!

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Godson 3 years, 1 month ago

Hold him Joe... and don't let um go!

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quava 3 years, 1 month ago

It becomes ever more clear that in order for the Bahamas to move forward they need to elect a woman as Prime Minister. The boys are a joke, all of them. They can not even get their financials in on time much less get tourist in Baha Mar. And along those same lines, join today's world by passing the legislation giving Bahamian women full rights as citizens and stop it with homophobic language that attempts to misguide. It is beyond time to end the stupid boy's club that has been running the Bahamas for the last 5 or so years.

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quava 3 years, 1 month ago

What an embarrassment to men these undisciplined boys are

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OMG 3 years, 1 month ago

I bet Fred was quick enough to submit all his expense claims for the expensive trips that he constantly makes.

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 1 month ago

We sensible and patriotic Bahamians need to assert our influence next election and vote all of these jokers out .......... we cannot have MPs who believe that they can SHIT on us by flaunting the fact that they are ABOVE THE LAW by the way they conduct themselves in Parliament ......... those named above are daring the Public Disclosure Committee to bring action against them because some of them are serial delinquents when it comes to being accountable to the PDC (and to the citizens of this country)

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themessenger 3 years, 1 month ago

Would someone please check Jerome Fitzgerald's political garbage can to see if theres anything in it of a financial and personal interest to the Bahamian people that could be disclosed from a point of privilege?

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Economist 3 years, 1 month ago

We should make it law that any MP who has failed to disclose by March, in any year that he is an MP, may not run again in the next election.

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viewersmatters 3 years, 1 month ago

:) Mr Davis said: “I know I signed something a couple of weeks ago but I am not sure if it was for this year or last year. I will check with my accountant.” KML not to laugh but every time the press interview Mr. Davis he's always extremely and deeply lost out of this world.( knock knock planet earth to Mr. Davis we are contacting you from the Bahamas where are you).

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viewersmatters 3 years, 1 month ago

It would be best if The Bahamas would have an independent committee to conduct private investigations to ensure that all and every MP, Senators and Officials are giving all and every statement that is needed (ensure no one has any hidden or offshore accounts or try to open accounts using a lover or family member name)

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Sickened 3 years ago

I agree. Letting parliament police themselves is asking for big, big trouble.

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Honestman 3 years, 1 month ago

And people wonder why crime is out of control in The Bahamas? It starts right at the top with our political leaders who feel they are accountable to no one. Abosultely disgraceful.mKeep on their case Tribune.

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asiseeit 3 years, 1 month ago

The question is who would be the one to enforce the law? We know our scum politicians only obey laws when it suite them. Rule of law? What rule of law, ain't none in The Bahamas, thanks to our parasitic politicians!

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asiseeit 3 years, 1 month ago

If you or I break the law the man is coming for us, not so much for the scum that is killing our country. The entire political class of this country needs one good bitch slap, just for starters!

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Sickened 3 years ago

Next time they leave parliament after the morning session they should get a good slap from each any every citizen. I'm sure they would then get something done in the afternoon session.

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John 3 years, 1 month ago

These are the same people who put outrageous fines and jail time even for business people who don't file their VAT returns on time. They wouldn't even consider removing the $100 late fee on business licenses, despite making the filing requirements more taxing. Interest is being charged on property tax and national insurance and if you are a day late paying for your gun license, there is a $50 late penalty. Members of Parliment including the PM and the DPM need to lead by example. A person having financial challenges can be thron in jail or easily destroyed by government agencies not because they don't want to comply but they cannot do so financially. By this time next week the country will be within a year or so of general elections. Those who plan to run will have to declare their assets and liabilities. Those who don't declare by this time next year and don't plan to run may never have to disclose.

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SP 3 years ago

HSBC & Panama Papers infinitly reinforced US State Department incriminating evidence

Once thinking themselves safe and untouchable, crafty corrupt politicians are having sleepless nights and busy days finding ways and means of shuffling dirty money without a paper trail!

http://www.thenassauguardian.com/news...">http://www.thenassauguardian.com/news...

How many living on borrowed time will come out in the wash soon enough!

http://panamapapers.sueddeutsche.de/a...">http://panamapapers.sueddeutsche.de/a...

Pirates beware.....Somebody's watching you.

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Tarzan 3 years ago

What's wrong with you all? Don't you understand? This is all about separation of powers and Parliamentary Privilege. This has nothing to do with corrupt politicians serially breaking the law and lining their pockets with the people's money, or selling the country to rich Fins from Canada. It's only about high minded political issues like separation of powers. Just listen to Mr. Fitzgerald and our esteemed Foreign Minister spin, spin, spin. Not a word about how someone illegally taped the phones and mail of public spirited citizens. It's all about their "PRIVILEGE" - Privilege, don't you get it. They are PRIVILEGED to do and say what they want - To pillage and steal what they want. Bahamian citizens are supplicants who need to mind their "P's" for privilege and "Q's" quiet, and honor these politician's high minded Constitutional concerns. Oh, and by the way, screw the idea of an independent Judiciary, and a free press, the only institutions standing between this sorry mess and total anarchy.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years ago

All of the blame for non-compliance by parliamentarians with their annual financial reporting requirements should properly lie on the door step of none other than the very Wicked Witch of the West, Allyson Maynard-Gibson. PLP and FNM members of parliament alike have absolutely no fear of unfavourable consequences arising from their non-compliance because they know Maynard-Gibson as Attorney General will never prosecute any of them even though they have all sworn to uphold the laws of our country. The Attorney General herself has apparently complied with the financial declaration requirements, but only because she is in charge of the highest legal office of government. But therein lies the real rub - she considers herself beholden to an elected government rather than directly to the Bahamian people when it comes to her duty to enforce our laws. The situation was no different when Alfred Sears was the Attorney General and most of us remember how instrumental he was in the government's efforts to legalize the criminal activities of the gaming web shops notwithstanding the outcome of a duly held national referendum. Small wonder the numbers boss Craig Flowers ended up being one of his law firm's largest clients. The people of Fort Charlotte would need to have their heads examined if they ever again elect Sears! Somehow though, we (the Bahamian people) must press for fair and impartial legislation that would allow for our election and empowerment of a body of individuals entirely independent of government to carryout prosecutions of government officials (whether elected or non-elected) who fail to comply with the laws of our country. Until such time that this is done, pervasive illegal (criminal) activities, including rampant corruption, will remain at all levels of our government with dire financial consequences for our country and the quality of life of Bahamians looming down the road.

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Reality_Check 3 years ago

And this is perhaps the fundamental reason why Bahamian voters in the next general election should vote for an independent candidate running in their constituency rather than the candidate put forward by either the PLP of FNM. The next general election may be the last opportunity we have to free ourselves of these two political nests of very detestable greedy corrupt cockroaches who don't give a hoot about anyone but themselves!

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