Louis Bacon rejects accusations that Save The Bays is plotting to unseat the government, welcomes a ban on foreign electoral campaign funding and is shocked by Peter Nygard’s disrespect of the Prime Minister and a senior minister’s use of unauthorised access to private financial information.
I have lived in mortal fear for several years due to Peter Nygard’s harassment, intimidation and smear campaign against me.
And I am now shocked, that with the depths of Peter Nygard’s illegal derangement and disgusting disrespect of the Bahamian Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister being displayed for everyone to see, that it is I who is vilified by the PLP in Parliament along with the other Victim-Plaintiffs, castigated as insidious agents trying to topple the government after our discovering, corroborating and revealing in a law suit the lethal depravity that Nygard has plunged to.
A Queen’s Counsel, a school teacher, a solid businessman, a foreign philanthropic donor to environmental causes and a beloved Reverend who has served as a PLP-appointed Vice-President of the Senate and who suffered real violence in this harassment campaign ... by bringing a court case aimed at stopping this foreign pest to stop harassing and intimidating and plotting violence against them they are a cabal seeking to overthrow a popularly elected PLP government?
Really? Really ludicrous!
To the contrary, it is Nygard that has attempted to control the government of the Bahamas. There could hardly be more forceful evidence that in the twisted mind of Peter Nygard he had bought the right to a specific favour from the PLP in exchange for his self-admitted enormous campaign contributions, evidence that emanated from revelations about his harassment conspiracies. His own words prove the corruption he seeks.
There could also hardly be more forceful evidence that Prime Minister Christie had not succumbed to Nygard’s attempts to corrupt him and that Prime Minister Christie had rebuffed Nygard’s entreaties. On the contrary, the video exonerates the Prime Minister but shows the ugly and insulting truth behind Nygard and his misguided thinking that he owns the Prime Minister.
We, the Plaintiffs of the recently filed Supreme Court action, could have left out the video evidence detailing Prime Minister Christie’s rejection of Nygard’s demands - if we had a political agenda against the Prime Minister and the PLP. But we did not, because we have no such agenda. We only seek to expose the truth revealed to us by multiple whistleblowers and corroborated by objective and verifiable evidence.
One would have expected the right-thinking PLP to rise up (and many have) against the foreigner who was massively insulting to their leader and the leader of the country and extol the fact that Mr Christie had proven stalwart against rumours of undue influence, was vindicated morally and politically for all to see and to immediately put distance between them and the noxious Nygard now and forever, whatever past relations Nygard sought to promote.
Adding to the irony of the incendiary parliamentary debate about Save the Bays (STB) environmental charity, of which four of the five plaintiffs are directors, and for which I have been a lead contributor, is the very genesis of this advocacy organisation.
I have spent the last two decades devoted to environmental philanthropy and advocacy. Indeed it was not too long ago that Prime Minister Christie praised me as a strong contributor to Bahamian environmental causes in 2013 upon my being awarded the Audubon Award for environmental contribution.
Keod Smith, lawyer for Peter Nygard, however, took offence with the Prime Minister’s laudatory remarks, apparently because other environmental figures in the earlier ‘Clifton fight’ in The Bahamas were not mentioned at the same time. He challenged me to show environmental leadership in The Bahamas to live up to my bona fides which he professed to doubt.
Goaded by Keod Smith and heartened by Prime Minister Christie’s laudatory remarks, I recommitted to Bahamian environmental causes, after a several year pause due to Nygard’s harassment campaign.
With the support of various neighbours and supporters of the west end of New Providence, the Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay was formed with some of the original Clifton Coalition members. We shortly thereafter changed the public name to Save the Bays, yet to my mind and others the goal was to carry out the vision of the original Clifton Coalition. That was to safeguard, primarily through advocacy, the waters and land immediately around Clifton Bay - an area from the fuel depot to Jaws Beach to Goulding Cay and Simms Point (sometimes known as Nygard Cay).
So ironically, The Bahamas can thank (or blame) the exhortation of the PLP for the very existence of STB which is now being demonised as some instrument of the Opposition.
I imagine the naming and shaming of the local STB (as well as foreign) Directors and employees during recent parliamentary debate on television delineated their political persuasion - something like my countryman Joseph McCarthy did on the floor of our Senate in the 50s in outing supposed communist traitors to American democracy, the disgraced ‘Red Scare’ episode, a travesty of justice and political overreach.
As for STB being some kind of FNM political group, except what I have read in the paper recently, I have no idea what political party any of the Bahamian Directors belong to, nor has it been a subject of conversation with anyone I know.
STB, however, is an advocacy charity. Its mandate is to get involved in any environmental issues, including policy issues. It is non-partisan.
One would be hard pressed to think of any important American environmental advocacy groups that do not get involved in policy, lobbying or litigating - from the Sierra Club to the Natural Resource Defense Council to the League of Conservation Voters to the Environmental Defense Fund and onwards - as does STB, the lead proponent of “Environmental Advocacy” in The Bahamas.
What exactly is that? “Advocacy is working to influence public policy in social, political, and cultural spheres in order to bring about justice and positive change in human rights and environmental issues. Environmental Advocacy involves both protecting the public from environmental hazards and protecting the natural world. Advocates organise a group around a cause and work to implement changes that have a lasting and positive effect.”
STB is styled after Robert F Kennedy Jr’s (also an STB Director) very successful international Waterkeeper Alliance, of which I was a founding contributor. It is the fastest growing global environmental movement in environmental laws by publicising violations and violators. Indeed, a subsidiary of STB is part of the Waterkeeper Alliance from which it takes its funding and its basic operating model. There are also Waterkeepers in Bimini and Grand Bahama.
Emboldened with early success in thwarting Nygard’s attempt to steal three of the most expensive acres in the Bahamas from the public - Crown Land which he still occupies - and degrading the local environment in doing so, STB directors pushed to have a more national environmental advocacy rather than limiting itself to the west end of New Providence.
Along with our community partner, Bimini Blue, STB has extended its efforts into fighting catastrophic unregulated development in Bimini’s mangroves and reef systems. We took the case all the way to the Privy Council in London. With ReEarth, we successfully defeated an unlawful development on Blackbeard’s Cay and STB continues to fight many other environmental causes.
Last month, STB was granted permission to launch yet another Judicial Review about preventing and cleaning up the oil spills that continually pollute the waters off Clifton and the west end - a significant milestone in the campaign to compel the Bahamas government to decisively address this longstanding environmental problem.
STB has also lobbied for a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in The Bahamas. It is the same type of legislation in America that was used so effectively by Robert Kennedy Jr, the Sea Turtle Conservancy (two foreign advocates my Moore Charitable Foundation brought into the earlier Clifton fight) and Keod Smith to help save the Clifton Heritage area from the bulldozers in 2000 along with numerous other local advocates. The FOIA in America was used to obtain a damning US firm’s archaeological report that had been earlier suppressed by the FNM government which revealed the sensitivity of the Bahamian treasure there.
Indeed, it was STB’s lawful FOIA public event in December 2015 in support of passage of a Bahamian FOIA that was violently shut down by one of Nygard’s hate rallies that the Plaintiffs now seek protection from re-occurring.
While initially STB was criticised in the press and Parliament as being a group narrowly focused against my neighbour Nygard, we are now being lambasted in Parliament as ‘activists seeking to topple the Government’.
Environmental advocacy is often irritating and antagonistic to sitting governments. It tries to accomplish change irrespective of political affiliation. Ask FNM former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham how he felt during the earlier Clifton campaign. I repeat - STB is non-partisan!
It is highly disturbing that certain Bahamian politicians are vigorously urging the further persecution of the already frightened Plaintiff-Victims in the harassment suit with wildly trumped up claims and allegations of small potential infractions in the way the discovery of the harassment proceeded, a harassment suit that was filed in civil and not criminal court.
Indeed given that the government is threatening charges on the victims, me included, and in light of the police to this day not investigating the offending parties, the Plaintiffs’ reluctance to involve the police in their initial discoveries appears totally vindicated, their having decided to proceed in a civil lawsuit rather than seek police intervention. This reluctance came about after police officials rebuffed several STB requests for them to investigate the hate rallies. Yet certain STB members would not let the injustice and the marginalisation of their human rights stand without their own investigation.
While the Plaintiffs have shined a spotlight into nefarious threats and harm done by a privileged foreigner - ‘He Answers to No One’ as Forbes Magazine put it - certain Bahamian political leaders are bewilderingly doing their utmost to silence the Plaintiffs and any charitable organisations they belong to instead of going after the accused malefactor.
As for recent calls by a senior cabinet minister for an investigation by the FBI and the IRS, why not make it a bi-partisan initiative and have it cover all foreigners, even the one who has been unlawfully sitting on your constituents’ Crown Land illegally for 20 years while thumbing his nose at your Prime Minister after trying to buy him off?
I welcome such long overdue investigation. Perhaps it is the only way out for civil society in The Bahamas to rid itself of the corrupting influence of this pestilence.
And the senior cabinet minister who made these calls may also want to check with the Real Property Tax Department to see if Peter Nygard ever made good the $2.5m in property taxes he had been delinquent on.
And as for banning foreign money in Bahamian electoral campaigns, I would welcome that proposal as well since Nygard’s $5m donation seems the root of all the mess here.
As for my charitable organisation, Moore Charitable Foundation, we have prioritised environmental and educational giving. Besides my backing of STB I have also donated millions of dollars in the Bahamas including gifts to the Bahamas National Trust, Nature Conservancy Bahamas, BREEF, the Rotary Club amongst others.
These gifts dwarf the donations to political campaigns I have given - to the PLP in the 2007 electoral cycle and to the FNM in the 2012 election cycle. In fact, I have donated to both the PLP and FNM in like amount in the low six figures, both because, as a property owner and resident of The Bahamas, I supported the environmental policies espoused and upheld by the leaders of their party at the time.
I fully recognise that parliamentary debate can lead to impolitic and overwrought statements that have a deservedly short shelf-life. Although there is a certain tolerance for hot talk however misguided, what is perhaps most disappointing for the Bahamian image abroad, if not at home, is the recent unauthorised release by a senior cabinet minister of private emails of our charitable organisation, STB, and its bank records and foreign money transfers.
Nassau has been a major offshore banking and funds management centre and nothing strikes worry in financial fiduciaries more than the intrusion and publication by political powers of supposedly private banking records and private organisational correspondence, a concern I share in. This ‘own goal’ for the financial services industry of The Bahamas by the senior cabinet minister that introduced this unauthorised sensitive private information in proceedings in Parliament will not go unnoticed by senior international Banking and Fund fiduciaries.
As I have noted earlier, as a fiduciary I quietly pushed my funds management administrator to move any business having to do with my international investment funds away from The Bahamas (as I had previously urged for them to move to Nassau in the 90s to be closer to my second home) after the rogue police raid on my home.
Following the raid, which happened under the FNM administration and which Nygard takes authorship for, I was concerned that his nefarious influence could gain him access to Moore Capital Management funds’ corporate records, correspondence, client rosters, bank transfers, etc. This withdrawal commenced under the FNM administration to their great dismay - it was not based on whichever reigning party was in power, it was also not done with any thought that whichever political party would try to embarrass or destabilise my business or me. I was worried about a private attack.
Never in a thousand years would I have thought it would be a sitting member of the Government of The Bahamas who would use unauthorised access to private financial and corporate information to try to destabilise me or an affiliated organisation by putting this information in the public record, on television! For such a politician to undermine the sanctity of personal, business and banking information and to do so as a misguided act of political retaliation, threatens the very foundations of commerce and foreign investment in The Bahamas.
Instead of feeling justified in my previous precaution as a fiduciary regarding the sanctity of corporate records, I am actually stunned at the audacity of this lawlessness - a breach that threatens to cascade my fears broadly to international investors - a grave disservice to Bahamians.
If I am wrong that his acts are illegal, then I do not think international investors realise how tenuous the sanctity of their personal, business or banking information is in The Bahamas if they run afoul of certain politicians or powerful individuals.
All abuses of power - like the police raid on my home that had the officer in charge explicitly target taking digital photographs of my toddler children (since returned thanks to the intervention of the Commissioner of Police Greenslade) to intimidate my family, to this unauthorised access and use of private financial information by officials - fundamentally undermine the democracy and freedoms we had come to admire in The Bahamas.
I urge both parties to come together at a time when national unity would seem to be imperative, and focus on the national issues at hand that warrant a change of course in protecting the good name of The Bahamas - protecting individual rights domestically and that of investors in the international financial service industry - rather than focusing on internecine score-settling.
Louis Bacon is an American hedge fund manager, trader and founder of Moore Capital Management, and a conservation philanthropist who has spent more than two decades supporting efforts to protect natural resources in the United States and abroad.