Re: Ruffin’s Unpaid Casino Taxes
EDITOR, The Tribune.
Kindly allow me space to address this matter for clarification, regarding the unpaid casino taxes owed by the former owner of the Crystal Palace Casino, Mr. Phil Ruffin, and a related story that was reported in the Business Section of your newspaper this past Friday.
When contacted by your paper on Thursday past to get my thoughts on what should happen following the debate in Parliament on Wednesday where Minister Wilchcombe reconfirmed the Auditor General’s Report that in excess of $7m remained unpaid in casino taxes by Mr Ruffin’s interests, I asserted that an inquiry should be commissioned at the highest level. I also asserted that when l first raised this issue in 2012, the Rt Hon Prime Minister stated that there were no such outstanding debts owed by his friend and former client. It was because of this apparent high level misrepresentation that l felt such an inquiry should occur.
When questioned further by your paper about the Public Accounts Committee, it is very unfortunate that this was irrelevantly introduced into the discussion. The story as reported in your Friday edition appeared to lose focus of the real issue; that being to ascertain how and why the Prime Minister and the law firm of the Deputy Prime Minister are clearly at odds with the report of the Auditor General and Minister Wilchcombe who has responsibilty for Gaming.
Regrettably, the story was written to suggest that l had cast aspersions against the PAC and my Parliamentary Colleagues who sit on that committee. I wish to state unequivocally that was certainly not my intent. I regard highly and respect the work of my colleagues and do not wish to draw them into this particular matter.
As l had initially asserted and maintain, this matter is of grave concern for the Bahamian people and the integrity of the Public Service Officers who diligently execute their duties. Therefore a high level inquiry should be commissioned with haste to determine the facts of this matter.
When there is a dispute of this magnitude where the holder of the Office of Prime Minister and Minister of Finance is demonstrably at odds with a Member of the Cabinet and the Auditor General, it is my opinion that a high-level fact-finding inquiry needs to be commissioned without delay.
FNM MP for Long Island,
February 21, 2016.