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Symonette Doubts Some Disclosures’ Accuracy

FINANCIAL Services and Immigration Minister Brent Symonette.

FINANCIAL Services and Immigration Minister Brent Symonette.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

FORMER Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette yesterday shrugged off public discourse over his immense wealth, instead speculating over the accuracy of disclosures filed by other veteran candidates last week.

Singling out Prime Minister Perry Christie and Minister of Labour Shane Gibson, but also speaking generally, Mr Symonette noted that the intention of public disclosures was to prevent a gross increase in wealth while in public office.

He suggested that there would be greater public confidence in the Public Disclosure Commission if its chair was not a political appointee, and stressed that any investigation into one candidate would have to be conducted on all.

“The intention of the Public Disclosure Act is that you do not make a considerable amount of money while you’re in office,” he said.

“Now, mine increased, I was out of office. Look over the last 35 years; look at a lifestyle that does not reflect what happens on paper, that’s where I don’t feel comfortable. If this was an issue of an independent body that could look at it and be confidential, we’d have more confidence.”

Mr Symonette added: “But the man in the pulpit and the radio carries on about me. If rich people aren’t supposed to be in politics, then that is a sad day for the Bahamas.”

Mr Symonette, the Free National Movement’s candidate for St Anne’s, reported a net worth of $156.4 million - nearly $100 million more from his 2011 disclosure of just over $65 million.

“I have been out of politics for five years and my wealth increased. I’m quite comfortable,” he said.

“You look at Perry Christie and see he’s only worth some $2 million. They’re looking for hullabaloo, check out (PLP Golden Gates incumbent) Shane Gibson. I don’t have a bank account in the US that I use to accept payments of some $94,000.

“I don’t know what the hullabaloo is about. I’m a businessman, I’ve disclosed my wealth over the past 20 years, I’m comfortable with my declaration. I’m not too comfortable that everyone can be as comfortable as I am with the accuracy of the reporting.”

Mr Symonette underscored that he was not suggesting that there were inaccuracies in either candidate’s disclosure; however, he noted that Mr Christie’s net worth has hovered around $2m over three consecutive terms.

His comments concerning Minister of Labour Shane Gibson are a nod to revelations that Mr Gibson received payments of $5,000 month to his US account from Lyford Cay billionaire Peter Nygard. The transactions were made prior to the 2012 general election, and continued in 2013 when he was a minister.

Mr Gibson has explained that the money was used as a contribution to his 2012 campaign, and for community initiatives in his constituency like student scholarships.

“Christie has a very nice house,” Mr Symonette continued, “right next to the largest hotel in the Bahamas and he has properties. I’m not saying it’s (the disclosure) not accurate, the house may not be owned by him. That’s why I’m saying that I’m comfortable. It’s a criminal offence if you can’t (support disclosures).”

“I think the problem with public disclosure is it’s not just potential MPs but senior government officials also have to disclose,” he said, “and we never know, and so we never know if it’s accurate. The head is an appointee of the current government so it’s a political appointment.

“If you appointed me you think I’m going to come and look at your accounts? That just ain’t (going to) happen. And if they come and look at one person, they have to look at all,” Mr Symonette said.

Comments

birdiestrachan 1 year, 5 months ago

I could not care less how much Mr: Symonette is worth or how comfortable he may or may not be. He can not take any of it with him. He is no Mr: Bill Gates. Stingy and cold is the order of the day.

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DDK 1 year, 5 months ago

Beware the green-eyed monster LOL!

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B_I_D___ 1 year, 5 months ago

Think you are missing the point Birdie, he is 'comfortable' in that accuracy and honesty of his declaration, he is not trying to hide anything, unlike many others. He can rest easy knowing he has been truthful.

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banker 1 year, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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OrdinaryMan 1 year, 5 months ago

....."it did'nt go too well. The monkeys are now retarded...."

....banker - oh my, oh my !

(remind me to stay on your good side..)

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themessenger 1 year, 5 months ago

Hey Birdie, when did Perry dem last give you anything besides hot air and empty promises? He had dem poor people in the Valley on dey knees begging for the lass fifty years an ain gee dem nuttin from den ta now cept wind and more wind. You need to get on board wid Nygaard, Shane, Eric Jr and da boys if you want some real money.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 5 months ago

I believe Brent is really worth TWICE what he declared .......... watsayu?????????

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Jonahbay 1 year, 5 months ago

The main difference between Brent Symonette and the rest of the persons running is not 100+ Million dollars but the fact that 1) He has declared most of his money and 2) Most of his money is in the Bahamas. Maybe some of the 55 Bahamians who have billions squirrelled away in HSBC Suise bank accounts are also our politicians or their friends, family and lovers... The whole thing is a joke. If Brent can halfway report on his declaration imagine those who just outright lie and at the end of the day does it even matter? We all know its a sham.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 5 months ago

Agreed ........... BTW: Who are these 55 Bahamians who have these Billions stashed overseas??????? .......... Whistleblowers??????????

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TalRussell 1 year, 5 months ago

Comrade! The extent of Brent's wealth was only possible due to the holdover colonial tax regulations that allows the wealthy to shun the public Treasury. The poor maids of the nation are contributing many times more in VAT, than do the rich on their inheritances.
You see Brent and his family were serving influential members in various governments going back many years and more recently - but they never desired to impose taxes upon the wealthy - so it should have nothing to do with his skin colour when it comes running for public office.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 5 months ago

The real question to be asked is how is it Brent Symonette's personal net worth (which does not include assets held in his wife's name and assets squirreled away in family trusts established in foreign jurisdictions for the benefit of his wife and children) managed to increase by at least $100 million since 2011 while our country was being governed by the Crooked Christie-led corrupt PLP government and most of us were suffering? Can you just imagine how much more his personal net worth would have increased by if the FNM had won the general election in 2012?! Can you just begin to imagine how much more Brent Symonette's personal net worth would increase by over the next five years if the power hungry greedy corrupt Minnis should become PM?!! Anyone who truly knows anything about Brent Symonette and his family knows his family unit's actual net worth is at least $350 million, a big chunk of which is now held abroad!!! This man is most dangerous in that he knows well how to be black when it pays to black in his corrupt wheeling and dealing and how to be white when it pays to be white in his corrupt wheeling and dealing. He's the last person who should ever be allowed to have a seat in our HOA!!!!!

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birdiestrachan 1 year, 5 months ago

In spite of all the wealth he still seeks to acquire land by silent procession

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juju 1 year, 5 months ago

Back off of Brent bulla...

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242in404 1 year, 5 months ago

I would prefer someone with that kind of money running for office. He doesn't need the pennies these corrupt politicians are selling their souls for. His great-great-grandchildren are already straight.

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Reality_Check 1 year, 5 months ago

Are you kidding??!!!! He will go after mega millions to satisfy the scale of his greed. I would rather we lose the pennies you refer to!

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