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Fitzgerald Admits Seeking Contracts

The Progressive Liberal Party candidate for Marathon, Jerome Fitzgerald, on his way to being nominated at CI Gibson High School, accompanied by his supporters. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

The Progressive Liberal Party candidate for Marathon, Jerome Fitzgerald, on his way to being nominated at CI Gibson High School, accompanied by his supporters. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

AFTER rebuffing reporters’ questions about his Baha Mar dealings yesterday morning, Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald later admitted in a short press statement that he sought contracts from Baha Mar for his family’s business.

Responding to The Tribune’s revelation yesterday that he requested brokerage, trucking and limousine contracts worth millions of dollars from Baha Mar, Mr Fitzgerald said he has communicated with Baha Mar’s original developer Sarkis Izmirlian “on any number of matters over the past eight years either in person or by email”.

“Prior to my father’s illness he had engaged in discussions with Baha Mar to get some work,” Mr Fitzgerald’s statement noted.

“After my father’s illness I wrote to Sarkis to follow up on those discussions and seek his assistance. Nothing came of it and that remains the case today.”

Mr Fitzgerald said he has no contract with Baha Mar and its affiliates.

He said he owns no shares in Bahamas Cargo & Logistics (BCL), a company he said was formed by his father years ago.

However, some observers accused Mr Fitzgerald of a breach of the Manual of Cabinet and Ministry Procedure, which states in Clause 40b, a minister must not “solicit or accept any benefit, advantage or promise of future advantage whether for himself, his immediate family or any business concern or trust with which he is associated from persons who are in, or seek to be in, any contractual or special relationship with the government.”

In one of several leaked emails published by The Tribune yesterday, Mr Fitzgerald advocated in 2014 on behalf of BCL, writing to Mr Izmirlian: “ ... I would really wish to now establish a relationship between Baha Mar and Bahamas Cargo and Logistics Limited where all ports of entry can be advised that BCL is to collect the paperwork and clear shipments for Baha Mar. It is my hope that the relationship will continue when the hotel opens and we will again be the broker and trucker for this property as we were for so many years.”

At one point, he expressed personal disappointment that Baha Mar’s officials had not come through for him following his requests.

Among the questions raised by the chain of leaked emails is the nature of the relationship between Mr Fitzgerald and Daniel Liu, China Construction America’s (CCA) vice-president. CCA is Baha Mar’s general contractor.

In one email, Mr Fitzgerald referenced “promises” Mr Liu made to him concerning business.

“Unfortunately, despite all efforts by you and promises to me by Daniel Liu that we would receive the brokerage and trucking work, we have not apart from a one time deal to move 40 containers,” Mr Fitzgerald wrote in January 2014. “I do not know why, I am disappointed but I have accepted it and moved on.”

In his statement yesterday, however, Mr Fitzgerald addressed nothing related to his contact with Mr Liu and representatives of CCA more generally.

He could not be reached to explain what promises were made to him.

In his statement, Mr Fitzgerald also did not address the references he made in the emails to Mr Izmirlian about a “limousine business” he wanted to arrange with Baha Mar.

“We are ready to meet with your people anytime,” he said in one email. “As indicated, we really only cater to high end customers and are the official agent for limolink in the Bahamas. You are encouraged to get a reference from the president of Viacom if you wish.”

When contacted yesterday, Robert Sands, the senior vice-president of government and external affairs, said that he is “not aware” if any government official has existing contracts with Baha Mar.

Reactions to yesterday’s revelations were widespread and largely critical of Mr Fitzgerald and the Christie administration in general, with some expressing outrage that a sitting Cabinet minister sought to secure deals for his family with Baha Mar.

People questioned why Mr Fitzgerald never revealed his dealings with the resort even as he later became one of the government’s lead negotiators on remobilising the project.

His actions, some said, undermines the government’s position on Baha Mar.

Up to press time, Prime Minister Perry Christie remained silent on the matter.

Calm

Mr Fitzgerald, however, maintained a cool and unperturbed demeanour in public. He showed up to be nominated at CI Gibson in the Marathon constituency with at least 100 enthusiastic supporters backing him.

Wearing a long-sleeved plaid shirt, jeans and socks with PLP symbols, he danced, laughed and led his supporters in chants of “PLP all the way!”

He rebuffed reporters who attempted to ask him questions. “Once I respond then you’ll be able to judge from that,” he said yesterday morning.

“It’s a big day,” he said about the nomination process. “It’s been long awaited. Everything is in order and so now we’re gearing up for the final couple of weeks. We’re excited, we’re motivated and we’re going to march through the finish line and God willing victory will be ours.”

One of his opponents in the Marathon constituency, Romi Ferreira, arrived at the school with a smaller group of supporters.

Mr Ferreira said voters should consider yesterday’s revelations about Mr Fitzgerald when they vote on May 10.

“The Bahamian people aren’t foolish and they are going to take into account all relevant circumstances and obviously this is a relevant circumstance to be taken into account,” he said. “Change is in the air. It’s palpable.”

Comments

ThisIsOurs 6 months ago

Thankfully it's only two more weeks of these excuses for this dishonorable behavior. (If the photos on the side are any indication), the PLP rally photo is taken at a lower elevation but the FNM photo shows a larger and much denser crowd, possibly 4-5 times the size of the PLP rally. the PLP is not an option, there's no one with a brain who can believe we will get anything other than what we've gotten the past five years right up to this final finger in our faces.

Minnis has maybe six months to prove his government is different

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Cobalt 6 months ago

I agree. I'm a little skeptical about Dr. Minnis seeing that this is the first he'll have the opportunity to lead. But we have no other choice but to throw our support behind him. Otherwise our country won't survive another five years under Perry Christie and his PLP band of crooks.

Minnis really has won by default.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months ago

We seem doomed by buffoons who continue voting along party lines. What we so desperately need is a house of assembly filled with the best possible MPs no matter what their party affiliation may be. Only then can we be assured the best possible outcome to the electoral process in terms of good governance combined with a good opposition. Let the chips fall wherever they may when it comes to which party wins the most seats. There is very little difference between the platforms of the three major parties and their ideology. But there is a big difference between the more honourable politician and the more corrupt politician, no matter what his or her party affiliation may be. Please don't let corrupt political leaders fool you into thinking all that matters is the political party you vote for. It's precisely that line of thinking that has brought our country to the brink of ruination today....very near failed statehood! THINK, THINK, THINK!!!

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concernedcitizen 6 months ago

I have voted both PLP and FNM ,,basically in a parliamentary system voting for and independent is a waste , have you ever seen our senate not approve anything the party w/ the majority in the house approves ,, now if 10 independents got seats , but I live in reality it won,t happen in our country ,,therefore I know Perry dem robbing us blind and will leave us w the worst pirates as FDi ,,I got to go w Doc and if he robs us blind I will vote against him ,,you are really voting for the leader in a country w/ such party loyalty and yes it may change w 10 independents ,,but we don,t got much time before we are Haiti ,,

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Reality_Check 6 months ago

If voters are always voting for the best possible candidate running in their constituency, rather than along party lines, then that in itself should ensure that Minnis, Christie and McCartney never get elected.

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ThisIsOurs 6 months ago

Listen the choice is Christie or Minnis. There's no imaginary opposition coming to save us in the next two weeks.Christie is not an option. That is not an endorsement of Minnis,it's just dealing with fact.

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licks2 6 months ago

Every time I think you are hopeless you come right back and let us know that as we suspect there is a good working and rational brain in that thick skull of your own. . .

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jackbnimble 6 months ago

I wouldn't assume Minnis will win by default. He MAY win by default. The PLP has a huge contingent of followers who remain loyal even if they are being led over a cliff. All polls show there are still many undecided voters (myself included) and it's largely due in part to the 'lacklusterness' of Minnis. By now with all the PLP fuc*ups the FNM SHOULD be winning by a landslide. I predict this will not be the case.

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sheeprunner12 6 months ago

After reading all of the attached comments ........ Minnis is going to be the next PM ............ and he will usher in a new political culture ....... His ethos and philosophy is on public record ............. But smearing his character and questioning his ability to manage a Cabinet should be looked at in the context of his handling of the LBT coup ........ That should have been the standard by which Minnis will govern .............. Minnis took his blows publicly like a man, he personally rebounded from being vilified, he consolidated the FNM, he recruited new talent, and he is successfully moving towards an election victory on May 10, 2017 ......... Vote FNM!!!!!

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ThisIsOurs 6 months ago

He didn't look so good in the LBT affair...just saying. The one thing I cannot figure out is whether Minnis is just abysmal at public interaction but a good behind the scenes strategist. I don't have the answer, the FNM is still behind the eight ball on a lot of issues. The Guardian media group has really been the power behind the official opposition. I'm hoping the new talent can bolster his leadership, give us five years of good governance and keep those looking for easy pickings at bay

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concernedcitizen 6 months ago

Basically he said I can be bought as an MP for either lucrative contracts or 20,000 a month ,,wink wink cough cough I meam twenty grand to help w my fathers healthcare ,,

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birdiestrachan 6 months ago

Those who wish to vote for Mr: Fitzgerald will do so. Those who wish to vote for the other guy will vote for him. Do you have any thing else to throw at the PLP Candidates? you should hurry up and bring it on the time is drawing nigh.

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Honestman 6 months ago

Birdiebrain........you are such a pathetic troll. I would love to know if you actually believe the drivel you write or does it just help to pay your liquor bill?

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Porcupine 6 months ago

birdie, Every time you post a comment, you waste the time of countless people who try and figure out if the stuff you write comes from a human or a broken record machine with no brain.

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Regardless 6 months ago

......nothing less than a slime bucket, shakedown operative. Everyone else in The Bahamas has to rely on cook outs if insurance cannot cover medical expenses but not this guy! He uses his cabinet position to approach the largest investor in The Bahamas at that time to obtain contracts. No ethics whatsoever. Why did he not contact his father's wealthy cousin Tiger Finlayson for assistance? Fitzgerald is a greedy pig.

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concernedcitizen 6 months ago

His father has health insurance , probably much better health insurance then you or I ,he went to the states for treatment ,I got to get my NIB card and plead at PMH ,,,that's just a way to state a number in a shakedown ,,nothing more ,,nothing less ..it was give me the contract or 20 g a month ,,why you think Izzie forward the request to Sandy and state the contract must be on merit ,,that's Izzie saying FU ,,enough already

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jackbnimble 6 months ago

I wondered the same thing. Rich people CAN afford insurance and I assume the Fitzgeralds are not poor. Are you sure he wasn't just using the father's sickness as an excuse to get the contract through sympathy? Enquiring minds want to know.

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concernedcitizen 6 months ago

it was a shakedown ,,the fathers illness was just away of naming the amount w/ out it looking like a shakedown ,,it was contracts for my business or 20,g a month for my soul lol

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sealice 6 months ago

so they ready to meet with the Foreigners running de hotel ANY TIME but when Bahamians have questions??? Rubis?? Bamsi?? BahMar??? We get told to carry our hip!!! This guy gotta be bleeding money left right and centre if he thinks he's gonna get re elected, cus the only way he can get in is to buy his way in

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Honestman 6 months ago

"Up to press time, Prime Minister Perry Christie remained silent on the matter."

Well there's a surprise!!

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Clamshell 6 months ago

Here's the good news: I'm on Eleuthera. Judging from the condition of the roads here, it seems that the PLP has given up any pretense of winning the election, as they have not even taken the routine step of filling the potholes just before a vote. Too busy filling their pockets in the final days, I'm guessing.

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OMG 6 months ago

Try the roads south from P Point to Rock Sound, there are holes big enough to break an axle and yet hundreds of thousands were spent clearing enough land to build a small city for the so called "mini hospital" and purchasing said land from our ex MP.

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TigerB 6 months ago

It is sad, this guy still went ahead and got nominated even though he did foolishness, and people was still behind him. Some Bahamians have no standards, I guess its the "Gold" standard!!

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proudloudandfnm 6 months ago

Fitzgerlad has in fact been working BCL with his father for years. I personally met them both in my office when my company gave up a contract and his took it over. About 10 years ago or so.....

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Cobalt 6 months ago

What the hell kind of country is this?!?!?!? Is this some sort of Banana Republic???? This has to be a joke!! Does this PLP government have no ethics, decency, or code of conduct!! Doesn't this government have any principles or moral mandate that governs its behavior???? Where is that stink mouth Bradley Roberts on this matter????

Why hasn't Perry Christie addressed this situation publicly and ask Mr. Fitzgerald to resign!?!?! This is a blatant conflict of interest and a breach of confidence to the public trust!!! What kind of Prime Minister allows his members to admit negotiating side business deals in an effort to appropriate their own pockets while he sits there with his thumb up his ass??? There needs to be an independent investigation into the practices of this devious government to determine who else is guilty of this practice!!! This government needs to be impeached and removed!!!!

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jackbnimble 6 months ago

The same Prime Minister that allowed Shane Gibson to run after the Anna Nicole scandal and then put him back in the cabinet first chance he got -- and by the way Gibson resigned. He was not fired.

Tell me, in the two terms that Christie has been Prime Minister have you EVER seen him shuffle his cabinet OR fire any of his top Ministers. Enquiring minds want to know.

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sheeprunner12 6 months ago

Did this crooked, lying, begging, teefin, shameless, brazen, insulting, piece of shit .............. RESIGN yet?????????

Every seriously offended Bahamian should have blocked off Bahamar this morning and refused to let the meaningless ceremony take place ........ This is an insult to our decency as a people and a country

THE PLP MUST GO .......... AND BE LOCKED UP AFTER MAY 10 FOR CRIMES AGAINST OUR PUBLIC PURSE

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Alex_Charles 6 months ago

Rename Nassau Crooked town, rename New Providence Crooked Island.

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Reality_Check 6 months ago

These corrupt politicians have been brainwashed into thinking that if they steer their crooked dealings to a family member or to a company or trust controlled by them or one or more of their family members, then there is no grave conflict of interest or criminality involved on their part. None other than Crooked Christie, Allyson Maynard-Gibson a/k/a the Evil Wicked Witch and the likes of Sean McWeeney have been behind this fallacious line of thinking by our most corrupt politicians.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months ago

And it is precisely this fallacious line of thinking that results in most politicians, no matter their party affiliation, failing to declare financial information required to be publicly disclosed by both the spirit and intent of existing statute-law.

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Porcupine 6 months ago

IF the emails are real, then; Jerome Fitzgerald is a criminal. Period. Any person who does not comprehend and admit this should not be allowed to vote.

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sheeprunner12 6 months ago

The mere fact that Fitzgerald has not filed a lawsuit against the Tribune as yet says that he is guilty ......... Bahamian Cabinet Rules dictate his firing

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realfreethinker 6 months ago

He can't file a lawsuit because he has admitted doing what was said in the emails

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The_Oracle 6 months ago

I think (and hope) they're all about to get fired en mass! None of this "commission of inquiry crap either, Criminal prosecution would be faster. Then put some of those IMF WTO OECD Hague/International courts mechanisms to work retrieving the $$$.

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jackbnimble 6 months ago

The PM will simply stall for two more weeks and pray another major story takes this topic off the headline - Guess that's why Wayne Munroe told us to kiss his a** and walk fast. Cool way to get Fitzgerald off the headline.

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OMG 6 months ago

MInister of Education, taking or attempting to take a big share of the national pie whilst encouraging our children to work hard, get qualified to get jobs. Hypocrite.

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TalRussell 6 months ago

Comrades! The operative word that should lift the lid to let some light in through the crack - is when the word "we"- keeps reappearing in the minister's emails.

Leonard Cohen - Anthem (w/lyrics) London 2008

.........//////https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wRYjtvIYK0

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ThisIsOurs 6 months ago

You're absolutely right!!!?,

"It is my hope that the relationship will continue when the hotel opens and WE will again be the broker and trucker for this property as WE were for so many years."

That's some weird language fir someone who has nothing to do with the businesses and is just doing a one time favour for his father

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