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Vendor got $8m storm cash

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Deputy Chief Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

IN THE months ahead of the May 10 general election, one vendor received more than $8m to clean up New Providence in the wake of Hurricane Matthew of the $28,975,180 spent on these efforts in the country, while the government missed out on a more than $31m insurance payout because it opted not to pay the country’s Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance (CCRIF), Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis revealed in Parliament.

In a riveting contribution to the budget debate in the House of Assembly, the prime minister said upon his review of payments made to various vendors, he was “astonished” by the payouts made to Jonathan Ash.

There were 46 transactions made to this vendor through several of his companies, Dr Minnis said, as he revealed that in at least two separate instances, Mr Ash received multiple cheques in one day. He also received $151,000 on May 9, just one day before the election.

Dr Minnis said this, along with other “shocking” information, will be passed on to Auditor General Terrance Bastian for investigation.

The Killarney MP said $22,939,178 was spent on clean up in the capital, $5,881,649 was expended in Grand Bahama and $154,360 in North Andros for cleanup.

Dr Minnis told the House that it was absolutely unacceptable for public funds to be chanelled to a select few in the aftermath of the hurricane, while Bahamians were made to wait for long periods of time to receive money that was owed to them.

“Following the passage of Hurricane Matthew, a number of individuals were engaged in the clean up efforts,” Dr Minnis said. “Upon my review of payments made to various vendors, I was astonished by one particular vendor which stood out.

“There are many questionable payments, but the payment to Ash Enterprises is shocking. Contracts were awarded to Mr Ash on behalf of Heavy Truck Line Services Ltd, Earthmovers Incorporated Company and Industrial and Heavy Duty Equipment Company.

“I note that Earthmovers is not registered with the registrar, Industrial and Heavy Duty Equipment Company is not registered with the Bahamas Registrar General’s Office and Heavy Truck Line Services was registered in February of this year.

“This one vendor received 46 payment transactions totaling $7,056,348.24. You want me say the vendor’s name? Jonathan Ash. His request for payment was submitted through the Ministry of Works and the National Recovery Unit.

“Mr Speaker I had to look this up because Bahamians would understand what I am talking about. Many Bahamians understand and know how difficult it is to receive payment in a timely manner from government overtime allowance salary, very difficult.”

Dr Minnis continued: “Now to give an example, on the 18th of January 2017, Ash Trucking got a cheque for quarter million dollars. One the 20th, two days later, so he’s good, he got a cheque for $206,400. But then he came back that afternoon on the 20th and got another cheque for $220,912.

“But that wasn’t enough. He came back on the 20th and got another cheque for $225,750. Then he came back on the 26th of January and got a cheque for $206,400.

“Then he came back the 26th again and got another cheque for $195,900 then on the 26th he came back and got another cheque for $226,800, but then look like Ash took a break. “But Ash came back four days before my birthday, he came back on the 13th of April for $225,750.

“Mr Speaker I could go on and on but just to show you another example: on the 26th of April, Ash collected three, four cheques in a day, while people can’t get overtime pay and can’t get allowance. I am skipping quite a bit, but I am just trying to show you, Mr Speaker, Ash must be had contacts somewhere.”

Value

Official Opposition Leader Philip Davis questioned whether the prime minister was arguing that Bahamians had not got value for money.

Mr Davis said: “The question I am asking him, I hear him talking about payments being made, but I wonder whether the allegation is that value is not being received for the payments made. It’s one thing to expose the payment, but it’s another to say these payments are being made with some propriety attached to it.”

Dr Minnis added: “I will just say the day before election on the 9th of May, he got $151,524.”

“But the only other thing I want to mention is that through vouchers he would have submitted he would have gotten $7,574,080.24. So now he would have gotten vouchers today and then the company come in tomorrow. His company got $1,057,550 for a total, now the Bahamian people can decide whether it was value for money, I ain’t into that, for a total of $8,631,640.24.

“It doesn’t stop with the vouchers. This same vendor was awarded three contracts in the name of three companies as follows: Earthmovers Inc Company (in the amount of) $240,000 for cleaning and sorting debris at the Harold Road dumpsite for two months. Heavy Truck Line Service $619,560 for cleaning and sorting debris at the sport centre dumpsite for three months and Industrial Heavy Duty Equipment company $198,000 for cleaning and sorting at the Carmichael Road dumpsite for three months.

“I want this job. I’ll leave medicine tomorrow,” Dr Minnis quipped.

These three contracts for clean up activities totalled $1,057,560.

When this is combined with the other contracts for work, Dr Minnis said Mr Ash pocketed $8,113,908.24.

Insurance

With reference to Hurricane Matthew, Dr Minnis read into the record portions of a letter he received on May 31, 2017 from the chief executive officer of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility. Dr Minnis said what this letter revealed about the insurance was shocking.

Following Hurricane Matthew’s passage last year, former State Finance Minister Michael Halkitis said the then government had ceased payment to (CCRIF) because the country would only have received compensation in the event of a category five hurricane.

Matthew came through this nation as a category three/four storm, and Mr Halkitis said the Christie administration had decided to drop CCRIF participation and establish its own disaster fund as “the threshold was just too high,” Tribune Business reported.

Dr Minnis said yesterday: “He (the CEO) wrote: ‘We are pleased that the Bahamas has been a member of CCRIF since its inception in 2007. We are pleased that the government purchased tropical cyclone (hurricane) policies every year between 2007 and 2014 and also purchased policies for both tropical cyclones and excess rainfall for the 2015/2016 policy year.

“‘However, we deeply regret that the government decided not to renew its CCRIF policies for the 2016/2017 year resulting in the Bahamas missing out on two CCRIF payouts from Tropical Cyclone Matthew.’ I note that the annual policy for this insurance facility was approximately $900,000. I was shocked by what the CEO of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility went on to say in his letter.

“He stated: ‘Based on the registered losses, it means that had the government of the Bahamas renewed its tropical cyclone policy for 2016/2017, using the previous year’s policy conditions, the policy would have triggered, resulting in a payout of approximately US$31.8 million, equal to the coverage limit.’”

This would have been the single biggest payout, according to the prime minister, ever made by CCRIF to any country.

The Bahamas’ excess rainfall policy would also have been triggered, resulting in a payout of US$855,874. Of course, those payouts would have been larger depending on the coverage purchased, he said. CCRIF made payouts totalling US$29,204,248m to its other four CCRIF member countries affected by Hurricane Matthew.

“These payouts, he said, were made to Haiti, Barbados, Saint Lucia and St Vincent & the Grenadines on their tropical cyclone and/or excess rainfall insurance policies – all within 14 days of the end of the event,” Dr Minnis said.

Comments

Alex_Charles 5 years, 1 month ago

Things like this make me believe in summary executions and exile.

But alas, get to prosecution and introduction of legislation to make sure this never happens again. If you want to bring back the death penalty, here's your start. Hop to it.

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sealice 5 years, 1 month ago

Wow Perry and Brave kicking themselves for leaving all that potential money in der pockets on da table!!!!

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concernedcitizen 5 years, 1 month ago

Don,t you think Stubby fingers got a bunch of the 8 million paid to Ash

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

Comrades! Seems PM Minnis, Ministers Desmond and Dionisio, might as well take over control Crime Stoppers, as the snitches line report tiefing and corruption.
I still say the PM possesses NO authority to go after MP's, Senators and other Government Officials for failure file Financial Disclosures - as that authority rests with the House Speaker In fact, the current sitting House Speaker - possesses NO authority to order the Attorney General to deal with former members of the House. Former MP's, can tell the PM to go take a hike as neither the PM or the current House Speaker possesses any authority over their previous actions or failures to act. I suggest they go talk with QC Wayne.

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OMG 5 years, 1 month ago

Your political stooges who have placed this country on a political knife edge had no authority to pay over the odds to unqualified political devotees without any fair bidding how the hell can you defend them /

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banker 5 years, 1 month ago

You Tal, are a disgusting human being, a non-patriot and a PLP slimebucket. Grow a pair, get some honesty and truthfulness and join the human race.

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OMG 5 years, 1 month ago

So for 1/8th of what they paid this political stooge they could have insured everything and been reimbursed the 31 million. Heads need to roll and this Ash guy must be ordered to provide detailed accounting of just how this money was spent. And still fools in our area believe in the PLP when they can see a few getting rich at their expense. Brain dead.

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

Comrade OMG, I would never defend corruption - regardless of colours they t-shirts but I just don't believe that any PM should be using his high office and the media to haul hints of corruption against any person or persons. In the meantime we've heard nothing from Minnis, Dionisio and Desmond - other than this PLP did this and that other PLP did that - while many thousands our citizens continue go without paycheques and BahamaCARE. I mean like how many years will the PM and his red cabinet colleagues be at this negative form of governing?

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realfreethinker 5 years, 1 month ago

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MassExodus 5 years, 1 month ago

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

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screwedbahamian 5 years, 1 month ago

SHAME SHAME!!!!! they may have a Bahamian Passports, BUT THEY ARE NOT BAHAMIAN!!!!

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jackbnimble 5 years, 1 month ago

The saga continues.... more wastage and padded contracts.

There must be some way to figure out if there were kickbacks involved.

It's just too much.

Someone need to go to jail!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 1 month ago

All of these revelations will not amount to a hill of beans at the end of the day because Minnis has no intention of ensuring the necessary evidence will be properly gathered for the purpose of prosecuting both the beneficiaries of all of this corruption and those who abused their public office and the public trust. And Minnis certainly will not be instructing law enforcement agencies and the attorney general's office to undertake the investigations needed for pressing formal charges against the miscreants. Minnis is simply engaging in lip service and pandering to his supporters in an effort to somehow justify his new government's great desire to borrow mega-millions of dollars without any meaningful plan to cut the very high non-productive (wasted) costs just about everywhere throughout our government corporations, departments and agencies. In the case of Jonathan Ash, why isn't Minnis willing to tell us how Ash was able to deposit or cash the many cheques he received from the last government that were made payable to Ash's unregistered enterprises? I guess the bank(s) concerned (like possibly Bank of The Bahamas) were in violation of their "Know Your Client" documentation requirements. But exactly who is going to be directed by Minnis to properly investigate all of the details behind the identified instances of blatant corruption and theft? Answer: "No One!"

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licks2 5 years, 1 month ago

When you will resign from the DNA? You have no ground to talk about anything unless you leave the party that you led into two national cut-hips. . .now lets wait and see before we talk about nothing will be done. . .after the blood letting in the HOA is done. . .after we know who are the cookie jar robbers are. . .then if he does nothing. . .WE ALL WILL JOIN IN WITH YOU TO DEMAND SOMETHING BE DONE!!

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

Comrades! it's not the people but the system that invites corruption of which PM Minnis, Dionisio, Desmond, KP and Jeffery - have no constructive plans to replace with a system representative of a true - It's the People's time" government. if you put Jesus in this or any other government He too would be tempted to corruption.

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ashley14 5 years, 1 month ago

You are confused TalRussell, Jesus really. After everything that Jesus endured you think he would give into government corruption. Read more of your Bible. Money was not of concern to Jesus. He was always in favor of the less fortunate, and was a giving and compassionate man.

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

"Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens"
Exodus 18:21

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ashley14 5 years, 1 month ago

Reciting verses of the Bible, because it makes no sense in the current conversation.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 1 month ago

I actually think Tal is correct. Minnis even thinks Tal is correct, he already tell his people he e going down with them. He knows the capacity exists for the corruption to continue because it's so ingrained.

Our minds are royally messed up. No one sees anything wrong with taking payments to do a job you've already been paid to do, that's the base of corruption.

I've heard of a senior bank employee who brags about how "good" his new job is because he now has access to wealthy clients who pay to get services more quickly. You'd be hard pressed to find ten Bahamians who would find something wrong with that.

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 1 month ago

roc wit doc has a problem with Mr. Jonathan Ash. he had to many contracts and he was paid for his work. the man has the equipment and the man power to do the work, who did doc have in mind? the FNM does the same things in Freeport and Abaco who are the contractors? Did Mr. Ash do a good job?

It is not unusual for governments, churches and even private citizens to establish their own disaster fund.

doc is not holding up well. not at all. The job may be to much for him. that is what I am thinking'

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MassExodus 5 years, 1 month ago

Small Birdbrain your man perry 'sissy' christie failed to pay insurance and we get slammed by a Cat 5 hurricane, AND you have the audacity to say Doc is not holding up well. Take your D- education the fuck out of here. While your at it take all the useless PLP shit ministers, such as Davis, Shane, and Fitz... If you cared one ounce about the Bahamas you would not sit here defaming the FNM. You are not Bahamian. You are plp or plop as we like to call it.

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ashley14 5 years, 1 month ago

What amazes me is how Government Officials throw around numbers like 8 million, 32 million that they say they gave or spent on a project. If so they need to go to a money management course. You give me 8 million to help the local economy or like clean up for these vendors and see what I can do. I hope the money is well used, let me know if you see major projects completed after this help. It's the same way in the States, they'll say they invested millions and in whatever. What did they do? I hope I'm wrong and the money is well spent. It's like buying a new car and they say it's 20,000 then you go to sign the papers and it's 24,000. What about that other 4,000 dollars they act like it's nothing. It's a lot in a budget. They talk in the millions, do you know how much money that is.

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

Comrades! Besides, PM Minnis is dreaming if he thinks his upstairs is an equal to that of the perceived Intelligentsia's his red cabinet colleagues Jeffery and Dioniso.
I'm taking it that Minnnis has yet to have witnessed the brains and the mouths in full operational gears when these two Comrades were attempting to dominate any conversation they were engaged in? The attempts takes all intelligentsia's into their mental hostage.

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 1 month ago

Would it have been all right with doc if hot mix or Waugh construction or fletcher or wells had received a eight million dollar contract. Of course it would be all right with doc.

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Gotoutintime 5 years, 1 month ago

Tal---What you are saying is that it is impossible to find an honest man in the Bahamas??

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

Comrade Gotoutintime, I think Christ was not only talking about a "man" as the nation's Leader but as society in which there are many "men's" who lead in various group makeups. Let's just say - we have a long way to climb to even begin match Christ's expectations.

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Gotoutintime 5 years, 1 month ago

OK Tal----I certainly accept that!

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BahamaPundit 5 years, 1 month ago

Speechless. Speechless.... Perry Christie leaves me speechless.

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BahamaPundit 5 years, 1 month ago

You did whaaa... you didn't pay insurance, so whaaa? Wha wha wha.... no words. 8 mill for trash clean up by one person. Whaaa... you said something. Wha?

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DDK 5 years, 1 month ago

They're just criminally nucking futs. It boggles the mind! Also mind bogging are the idiots that keep defending the crooks.

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Naughtydread 5 years, 1 month ago

The useless assholes didn't even pay their hurricane insurance.... Jesus Christ!

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DDK 5 years, 1 month ago

....and they NEED to be HELD ACCOUNTABLE!

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screwedbahamian 5 years, 1 month ago

They could not find any VAT MONEY left and the Credit was Junk Status. Consequently we are now paying a very high interest rate of interest on the $150,000,000.00 disaster Loan. Now we await to learn the person or maybe persons who were given verbal contracts for these monies.

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sheeprunner12 5 years, 1 month ago

Who is Ash Trucking owned by?????? ............ Which bank account(s) did Ash Trucking use to deposit their $8 million????????? .......... Which PLP Ministers are closely associated with the owner(s) of Ash Trucking????? ............. This should not be a difficult case to solve by the MOF, Police etc.

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Porcupine 5 years, 1 month ago

The fact that we are having this conversation, wasting our precious time, speaks volumes about this country and its' inhabitants.

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The_Oracle 5 years, 1 month ago

Given those numbers, and the frequency and close spacing of payments, this guy would have to have a fleet of trucks and heavy machinery beyond what anyone in this country could possibly possess! This is simple logistics. How does one burn thru that kind of money that fast? The answer is simple: Thieving on a scale that would make Pindling blush! We need a wall of shame with pictures and all, listing their crimes, and write a text book to be used in schools! Last chapter: Time served and $$ recovered! This has me reeling.........

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John 5 years, 1 month ago

You will soon see those businesses and persons who were financially propped up by the deep and widespread government corruption crumble and fall apart. Never has there been this level of corruption and thieving in Bahamas government. It has left the country crippled. And the crooks should not be allowed to walk away.

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gkeato 5 years, 1 month ago

Who signed the cheques and who approved them? That should not be too hard to work out,,, follow the money trail both up and down.

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