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Fyre Festival Vendors To Lose Out

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Dionisio D’Aguilar

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LEFT: Tents at the site of the Fyre Festival. RIGHT: Passengers stranded at the airport in Great Exuma after the event was cancelled. (Photos posted on Twitter)

BAHAMIAN vendors allegedly owed thousands of dollars in the wake of the botched Fyre Festival will likely get “nothing” as unsecured creditors, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday.

Mr D’Aguilar weighed in on the fate of businesses and local workers as he pushed back against criticisms over the Ministry of Tourism’s role in the failed event.

He acknowledged that more due diligence could have been performed on the part of his ministry; however, he said that it was unlikely further background checks would have countered the fact that organisers booked some 6,000 tickets for the two-weekend event.

“The government obviously isn’t going to guarantee the payment of it,” he said. “We were hoping these people (Fyre organisers), they owed the government of the Bahamas import taxes, landing fees, immigration processing fees, any number of fees, and the containers were seized by (Department of) Customs as collateral.”

The Tribune understands trailers seized by the Department Customs for nonpayment have since been released; however, Mr D’Aguilar said he could not confirm the payment yesterday.

“We have to find out what they paid,” he said. “I don’t know if we were legally allowed to tack on what third party vendors were owed as a condition of releasing the equipment.”

When asked about the fate of unpaid workers and vendors, he said: “Probably nothing, sadly it will probably be nothing. I don’t want to be harsh but unfortunately that’s one of the risks businesses take.”

Last week, Fyre Festival lead organiser Billy McFarland was arrested and released on bail in the United States on a federal wire fraud charge in connection with the ill-fated festival.

The Tribune understands that agents from the US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation received a permit from the government to conduct a probe in Exuma after the botched event went up in smoke on April 27.

Yesterday, Mr D’Aguilar insisted that tourism officials only performed perfunctory roles in connecting organisers with the relevant government agencies and expressed confidence that there was nothing untoward about the involvement of his ministry.

“Anybody who comes into the country and wants to hold a festival or event, the Ministry of Tourism rises to the occasion and assists. We facilitate, you need someone at BEC (BPL), customs, flight operations, we put these people in contact and say these are the people you need to speak to.

“In no instance did the Ministry of Tourism take control of this event. They presented themselves, the position was let’s find the people on the ground that you need to make this thing work.”

“We should have done our due diligence on the organisers of this event, but even so we probably would not have found anything because we would have been enamored by the fact that organisers had booked some 6,000 persons. It was 3,000 for one weekend and 3,000 for the other.”

He continued: “What we should have done was, we should have said ‘where are all these people going to stay? How is this going to work?’ Maybe be a little bit more involved in saying ‘hey maybe we should check things out (in respect to accommodations).’ They didn’t ask us for help in that area, so we were just like, ‘where do you need us to help?’

“We got sucked in to the excitement of the moment, and nobody stepped back and looked at it. Our job was to make sure they were in touch with public health, we just facilitated them and put them into contact with the arms of the government.”

He said tourism officials “rose to the occasion” after the event descended into chaos, assisting stranded ticket-holders and coordinating flights in hopes of making the “god-awful situation” better.

“I don’t think the employees of the ministry did anything, from what I can tell,” he said. “My initial indications are they tried their endeavour best in assisting them.”

Mr D’Aguilar assumed his post after the May 10 general election and was not in place for the planning of the Fyre Festival.

Speaking to the level of communication from his ministry post-festival, he said: “I don’t think there was a cover-up. I think there’s no good news to bring, nobody likes to say well you’re not getting nothing. You’re an unsecured creditor.

“This is just an unfortunate situation that went horribly wrong and we learned from it.”

Mr D’Aguilar’s explanation mirrors previous statements on the matter given by former Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe.

Comments

TalRussell 3 years, 3 months ago

Comrades! I cant hide it my feelings in closet no more. This Red Shirts Minister Dionisio's balls does irks me in the worst way and he keeps shoving his balls in faces the ordinary people.

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jackbnimble 3 years, 3 months ago

I think you may find Di'Aguilar to be a little too frank. It may be that you've gotten used to the PLP bullshi**ing you and not coming clean on the actual issue and this is your new normal. Frankly, I find it refreshing.

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 3 months ago

It's not his frankness that's disturbing, it's the seeming lack of research and equity. He says no one from tourism did anything wrong, the lady handed herself a 1.2 million dollar catering contract...he said in an earlier statement "it didn't appear that her superiors knew anything about it", and he sees nothing wrong???

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jackbnimble 3 years, 3 months ago

Go back and read his statement on this again. He said a senior official in tourism's SISTER got the catering contract. He said it only had an appearance of being a conflict of interest because it was her sister but as other bids had been submitted and the Frye organisers accepted her sister's bid he couldn't say as he wasn't sure if she persuaded them to accept it or they just happened to accept it among others. In this case no names were called and in any event, the official's sister has obviously lost money.

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 3 months ago

Yeah that's what "he" said. The "sister" got the contract, according to independent accounts reported earlier, the tourism official was in partnership with her. The most troubling thing about DAguilar so far is the willingness to disseminate partial facts

Do you know how easy it is to rig a ramshackle bidding process? Especially if you haven't advertised to the public that the services are being sought. I've heard from a very reliable source how these people, same ministry, using inside information, call around to find someone willing to offer the service at a lower price but request payment for awarding the contract.

The fact that her superiors did not know of the family connection is a HUGE red flag.

Theres a case in the US now of a state representative who bought some pharmaceutical stock, lots of them, he convinced his colleagues to buy the stock as well. It's coming out now that he had inside information and he misrepresented his involvement. He initially made a bucket full of money but as the facts of his misrepresentation came out the stock plummeted and he lost 12 million I think. Does the fact that he lost money remove the crime?

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Naughtydread 3 years, 3 months ago

What does Tal mean by "Ordinary" people. You mean most government school graduates with a D average? The same culture who buys numbers everyday in hopes of making it big!? You my friend have been manipulated by your Pie in the Sky Perry for too long, you have forgotten what someone telling the truth sounds like.

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 3 months ago

DD will clean up this OBIE garbage ......... DD needs to get the Chinese out of our tourism product .......... They mean us NO good

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jusscool 3 years, 3 months ago

Tal Russell Mr Wilchcombe said: “I was not involved in it. I cannot speak to it. Call Carla Stuart, she was responsible and the Director General (Joy Jibrilu).” Now you expect the new minister of tourism to know what's going on? Gotta be out your mind. It had to come to this. Well let the chips fall!

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 3 months ago

Sooooooo, Obie did not know what his DG was doing??????? Obie needs to be locked up once and for all ........ he is too wutless

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TalRussell 3 years, 3 months ago

Comrade SheepRunner 12. I guess all the cleanup will be fine but only as long as 'The Fonz' does wash his personal balls on regular basis.

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 3 months ago

STFU .......... Did you finish grade school??????? ......... Please contribute something worthwhile reading and adding to the collective social IQ

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 3 months ago

"D’Aguilar’s explanation mirrors previous statements on the matter given by former Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe."

But of course, they appear to be in lock step with the former administration. The only difference is they're throwing out lots of red meat....and it appears to be working, everyone's distracted away from their missing strategy. Give us Barabbas.

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TalRussell 3 years, 3 months ago

Comrades! When the man's with the bushy white hair from Montagu comes around?

....................../////https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIUKN...">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIUKN...

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Socrates 3 years, 3 months ago

government does not collect a bond from foreign promoters of events just in case things go wrong, like this time?

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DaGoobs 3 years, 3 months ago

As a country, we continue to get involved in complicated matters while relying on a simplistic mindset that says because a particular type of person is behind the venture then nothing can go wrong. So we have project after project where someone gets screwed, primarily by not getting paid for goods and/or services provided to someone else. Modern business practices requires that people like those behind the Fyre Festival put their money where their mouth is and secure performance or other bonds so that no one is left holding an empty bag if the promoter, contractor or whoever is unable to fulfill their end of the bargain. Obviously Tourism or whoever did not do their due diligence and simply took the Fyre Festival guys at their word without fully analyzing the actual prospects of the event. Seems like the dormitory at BAMSI and a thousand other ventures that we've had that did not come to anything. Can anyone say Ginn, the I-Group , Bahama Mar?

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Regardless 3 years, 3 months ago

....perhaps if the reputation of greed, overpricing foreigners and stealing subsided then incidents of this nature would reduce by attracting quality people from away.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 3 months ago

THE YAPPING TOOTHLESS LITTLE WHITE-HAIRED POODLE IS NOW ENGAGED IN ATTEMPTING A BIG TIME COVER UP BY THE MINNIS GOVERNMENT OF CRIMINAL CONDUCT BY SENIOR ELECTED OFFICIALS AND CABINET MEMBERS IN THE LAST CROOKED CHRISTIE-LED CORRUPT PLP GOVERNMENT. My oh my, what do we have going on here and for what reason?

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Jetflt 3 years, 3 months ago

Talrussell - you and your comrades are still living in the Christie era where lies and bullsh-t were the order of the day. If that's what makes you feel better then go ahead and keep living in your la-la land. Jackbnimble has it right. Most sensible people that can see the PLP's BS prefer the candid truth - good or bad. Dionioso is simply being honest and upfront and telling it like it is.

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 3 months ago

He's telling it "partly" like it is. They're making the same mistake the PLP did, believing that a strong win means they have the support of the entire populace. People didn't vote for the FNM, They voted for "good governance". He's completely sidestepped the fact the employees of tourism put themselves in a position to benefit from this event putting the name of the entire country in the mud with their self dealing interests. Has he even asked how they were able to get permits to do anything without proper sanitation? It's too early for this politicking mess.

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Stapedius 3 years, 3 months ago

So true. The trouble with our politicians is that they answer questions without any research, causing them to always have foot in mouth syndrome. We fail to realize that most of the corruption is within these ministries. We simply have too many dishonest people in these ministries. It has nothing to do with party. The same thieves that were there before May 10th are still there. They sit on these government jobs and rob the Bahamian people year after year. I don't care which party you vote for we all must agree that too much stealing in these departments. Then when they get let go without criminal charges I might add they holla victimization . Victim of what? Ya A#$ should've gone to jail.

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TalRussell 3 years, 3 months ago

Comrade Jetfit, good for you to have such confidence in the destabilising ways the "Bushy White-Haired Man's From Montagu" Dionisio.

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gbgal 3 years, 3 months ago

Hope these vendors do not expect Government to pay them back! The previous govt reps set a terrible example of using our tax dollars to pay vendors when things went wrong with their ventures. If you want to be in business, you have to accept the risks!

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 3 months ago

You know, the last month has been really weird, you have the PLP supporters saying look at all the good things we did, we tried our best, you have the FNM supporters saying look how much money went missing, oh.... plan? What plan? We need to get to the bottom of this corruption then you'll see our plan. Neither side saying anything that will better our current state

In all of the half stories I've heard DAguilar give, I haven't heard him say once what he's going to do to prevent a repeat of this in the near future, haven't heard him say anyone was disciplined, no his message to them is, as far as I can see you did nothing wrong. I'm sure tourism is handing out major contracts as we type, what's going to prevent someone's fiancé from using inside information to underbid legitimate vendors? I understand this practice was out of control around carnival, reaching to the very very top officials, probably why the staff thought it was ok to do

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