By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is calling for the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate a bribery scandaldating back more than a decade involving Alstom SA and the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts said yesterday.
His statement came after the Supreme Court decided not to jail 79-year-old former BEC board member Fred Ramsey who was found guilty of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from Alstom to influence the awarding of contracts between 1993 and 2003.
The Supreme Court decided not to jail Ramsey because of his poor health, ruling that within nine months he must instead pay back the $221,457.81 in bribe money he had received. He was also fined $14,000 and given two months to pay this.
If he fails to do so, the judgment will be executed against real property in his name and he will have to spend six months in prison.
Ramsey is a former Free National Movement (FNM) candidate for Fox Hill.
Although he said the PLP respects the court’s decision, Mr Roberts said: “Public trust in governance must not be undermined.”
He added that it would be naïve to think the crime was “perpetrated exclusively by one board member especially when the Cabinet decision ran contrary to the decision of the full board of the corporation”.
“The Cabinet decision led directly to the retirement from that board of one of the members (who was a former BEC executive) in strong protest against the Cabinet decision and to protect his personal reputation.
“Accordingly, the PLP calls for a Parliamentary Select Committee with powers to send for persons and papers to investigate the following aspects of the matter.”
The committee, Mr Roberts said, would seek to determine what was the cost impact of the bribery to BEC customers.
He added: “Management and the board concluded that due to negative experiences with (D Alternator 11), it could not endorse securing (generator) DA-12 from the same provider. What was the performance of DA-12 from the execution of the contract to its commissioning (including any delays) and the performance of the unit post the handing over period to June 30, 2016?
“Analysis must include any cost BEC was obliged to carry which impacted its ability to provide power to its customers. What was the additional cost of diesel fuel to run the backup gas turbine generators at the Blue Hills Power Station when DA-11 and DA-12 were offline during the periods mentioned above? What were the human costs and misery index to BEC’s thousands of customers in New Providence over many years?”
Mr Roberts called on FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis to agree to have a committee established to investigate the bribery issue given his expressed commitment to rooting out corruption.
For years, the FNM has accused the PLP of being a corrupt party. Mr Roberts’ statement is a part of a larger attempt to paint the FNM with a similar brush.