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Nothing ‘Unusual’ In Baha Mar Papers

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Attorney General Carl Bethel.

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Deputy Chief Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

DESPITE the Free National Movement’s suggestions on the campaign trail that the now unsealed Baha Mar documents may have been troubling, Attorney General Carl Bethel said Thursday that the documents contain nothing “unusual” that would prompt the government to renegotiate its terms.

Speaking to The Tribune yesterday, Mr Bethel also said the agreement doesn’t infringe on Atlantis’ most favoured nation status.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced on Tuesday night in Parliament that the heads of terms relating to Baha Mar’s sale was approved for release by the Supreme Court last Thursday, before he tabled the agreement, which he said fulfilled a campaign promise by the governing FNM.

However, he added that other “sensitive” documents relating to the sale remain under a court seal.

“We said if there was anything untoward or conflicts of interest with these people we would renegotiate,” Mr Bethel told The Tribune when he was contacted. “But there is nothing that calls for renegotiation. There is nothing particularly unusual in the documents.”

He also said: “And concerning the joint promotional commitment, well that’s the same thing that occurred with Atlantis. So there is nothing that infringes on the most favoured nation agreement.”

The tabled heads of terms said Bahamians who owned and held shop leases and concessions in the Baha Mar project were permitted by the China Export Import Bank (CEXIM) and the preferred purchaser to continue to hold them under the existing terms and conditions.

It further allowed for up to 1,200 work permits to be issued to China Construction America (CCA) and 30 work permits for all necessary staff of the asset special purpose vehicle (SPV) during the remobilisation and construction phase.

The project was also to benefit from exemptions of value added tax and import taxes of goods and services for completion.

The document again raises questions about conflicts of interest and whether former Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson was too closely connected to negotiations to get the shuttered resort open.

In 2015, she revealed that her husband Maxwell Gibson owns the retail jewellery store chain that had been granted storefront leases in Baha Mar. At the time, she rejected accusations that she had a conflict of interest due to her role as government negotiator for the stalled resort.

Mrs Maynard-Gibson’s revelation came in a statement released four days after she initially said her two daughters, 28 and 30, had leases to operate stores in Baha Mar while she was a guest on the More 94 FM talk show “Real Talk Live”. Mrs Maynard-Gibson revealed her daughters’ connection to the resort and Prime Minister Perry Christie’s knowledge of the matter.

However, earlier this year, she and former Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald dismissed tabloid accusations of abuse of power and conflict of interest as election season smear tactics.

Both former ministers were alleged by a tabloid to have entered into secret “sweetheart” deals connected to the mega-resort and its new buyer Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) that would see them allegedly net “unlawful private profits” in the millions.

The heads of terms noted: “Further, the government expects that Bahamian citizens owning and holding shop leases and concession in the project will be permitted by CEXIM and the proposed purchaser to continue to hold them on the same terms and conditions as currently exists.

“The asset SPV agrees to enter into new lease agreements on terms of the shop leases held by said Bahamian citizens no less favourable than the existing leases.

“Further CEXIM agreed to encourage the proposed purchaser to support and honour those said Bahamian citizens owning and holding such shop leases provided by the BML companies, their related entities and affiliates shall not be entitled to participate in the process referred to herein.”

Regarding construction concessions, the agreement said the government was to waive stamp duty and VAT on the transfer of assets from the BML companies to the SPV group - including any stamp duty or VAT that would otherwise be payable by CEXIM and/or any member of the SPV group on the creation, enforcement, settlement, waiver and/or release of any security – and on the funding arrangements for the SPV group and on the creation, enforcement, waiver and/or release of related security.

The Christie administration released the heads of agreement—which detailed many concessions given to the property—with Baha Mar and the government at the end of April.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The Bahamian voters 'gat swing' by Minnis, and just look at that contemptible smile on Carl Bethel's face. My oh my....I wish I could say it ain't so...but I did tell ya so!

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TalRussell 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Comrade Attorney General Carl B., tells Prime Minister Minnis.......You can now relax PM, no need sell Chow Tai Fook's Baha Mar lands and buildings from under them. {Why even attempt to make this up - that there is at least one adult sitting around the red cabinet table}.

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DDK 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Every time I read or hear about 1200 work permits, tax exemptions and Maynard-Gibson stores I get quite angry. What part of Bahamians out of work throughout the archipelago, no money in the Treasury and blatant cronyism don't these people understand? If this is the standard necessary to obtain FDI's then I humbly submit that it's high bloody time that the standard be changed. SSDD.

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Reality_Check 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Re-post: An overwhelming majority of Bahamian voters gave Minnis and his FNM government an unequivocal mandate, based on the many promises made during the election campaign, to investigate the major instances of corruption, fraud and outright theft involving senior officials in the last government and their PLP cronies in the private sector. We the people expect these individuals to be held accountable and responsible under the rule of law for their crimes against us and our country. Minnis will not get more than one year at most to do this. By then, if he fails, the level of widespread public discontentment will reach a crescendo and the long knives will be drawn by very influential and ambitious members of the FNM. And you can be rest assured one of the longer knives will be unsheathed by none other than Carl Bethel himself. Minnis had better carefully watch his back and make sure what he promised gets done by the most transparent means possible without any cute and coy interference by the AG with the proper outcome of justice that must be meated out to restore the public's confidence in government.

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screwedbahamian 5 months, 2 weeks ago

" Nothing wrong with the Baha Mar Deal ". The deal was negotiated by members of government who negotiated store leases for their family members and friends and Brokerage contracts for family members" blatant conflict of interest" at the cost of over $1.2 Billion of current and future Bahamian citizens expense and you have a foreign company knowing that it was a conflict of interest with corrupt government members. and its just" business as usual'. Our International business reputation is intact. The $100 million for tax and VAT that should have been paid into the Treasury was however used to pay of Baha Mar staff and Bahamian Vendors, But was told that it was a gift from the Bank. The Message need to be sent to ALL FOREIGN INVESTORS that the Bahamas will not tolerate this kind of Conflict of Interest and corruption commencing May 10 2017 by having all the leases and business contracts of all ,family, friends and lovers of any person involved in negotiating this Baha Mar deal cancelled and prosecuted to the fullest extend of the law.

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jusscool 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Lies and Deceit written all over his face!

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