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'Stand Easy - Arms Deal's Above Board'

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames in the House of Assembly. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames in the House of Assembly. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

MINISTER of National Security Marvin Dames yesterday expressed confidence in operations at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) as he moved to clarify several discrepancies in Auditor General Terrence Bastian’s report into the law enforcement agency.

The report covers the period July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015, and found that a 2014 procurement exercise posed a threat to the safety and security of Bahamian borders by awarding a $1.3 million contract to a home-based company that did not have the necessary approvals to import weapons from the commissioner of police.

“This is not a company that was pulled out of a hat,” Mr Dames said when contacted yesterday.

“You just can’t go to the US and say I want to buy a shipment of guns, it doesn’t work that way. There are any number of external and internal layers that prevent anyone from just walking off the streets and saying give me a shipment of guns, I want to send it to another country. We’re in the business of law enforcement, there are a lot of companies that we deal with that are subjected to the toughest scrutiny because of what they deal in.”

Mr Dames said: “The commodore had said to me that the company, according to their records, is a legitimate company. It’s not the first time they’ve done business with them.

“I’m not too concerned that it’s a home-based business,” he continued.

“Sometimes we have to be careful when we look at these reports that we don’t draw a conclusion that the weapons are missing, the weapons are actually not missing.”

The audit also noted the “online purchasing/courier service” had been inactive for more than four years before it renewed its business licence just four months before receiving Cabinet approval on their bid; and the Customs Department could not locate two shipment entries in December 2014, and June 2015.

Mr Dames told The Tribune yesterday he fully accepted the report, tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, however, he did not find cause for alarm over its findings after review with Commodore Tellis Bethel and Permanent Secretary Carl Smith.

He said many of its findings highlighted concerns leveled by the Minnis administration ahead of the 2017 general election, inclusive of improving morale, and the recruitment and training process; and ensuring the organisation was adequately funded.

While there were no concerns over the integrity of the 2014 procurement process, Mr Dames said he has ordered a full review of all companies currently engaged with his ministry to ensure full compliance will all laws and policies.

Mr Bastian’s report also outlined concerns over irregularities in salary payments and promotions. The report noted that three people were promoted in 2014 who were not employees of the organisation. The report also said 16 people promoted were not on the promotion list.

Mr Dames chalked up those concerns to an “error in communication” between the department and the RBDF.

“We accept the report,” he said, “an audit report is an audit report. It says something in there to do with promotions, that was addressed those people promoted were actually recommended for promotion.

“That is not the case,” he said, “but what it (report) points to that there are inherent loopholes that we have to fix.

“Why these reports are good sometimes, it speaks to gaps in our processing, it speaks to failure to adhere to rules and regulations and it too speaks sometimes to weaknesses within our daily operation. That is why we as a government and our prime minister has called for the auditing in every government department, because we want to bring about a greater level of accountability, but also a greater level of professionalism, of transparency, and we want to ensure to that the people’s funds are being spent responsibly and are being accounted for.”

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 3 days ago

The audit also noted the “online purchasing/courier service” had been inactive for more than four years before it renewed its business licence just four months before receiving Cabinet approval on their bid; and the Customs Department could not locate two shipment entries in December 2014, and June 2015.

This entire matter is much more serious than Marvin Dames would care to have us believe! And pray tell, just who owns the so called "online purchasing/courier service", a home-based company according to Dames, that was awarded the $1.3 million dollar contract to buy and import weapons without the required approvals of Greenslade as the commissioner of police at that time? We, the people, have a right to know much more, consistent with Minnis's many repeated promises that his government would set the gold standard in transparency. Marvin Dames seems to be no different than his predecessor B J Nottage when it comes to wrongfully shrouding everything in secrecy even when there is absolutely no national security reason whatsoever for doing so. This was such a large shipment of guns that Greenslade must have known about the contract. This begs the following questions: Why did Greenslade not issue the approvals required from the commissioner of police for the import of the guns? Who in fact did approve the importation of these weapons? I sense all of this is somehow tied to Greenslade demitting office early and getting a cushy diplomatic posting abroad plus recent special legislation passed to allow him to receive pension benefits he would otherwise not have been entitled to receive. Something is terribly amiss here! Where is all of the sunshine that we, the people, were told time and time again we could expect from our new government on such matters?!!

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DDK 1 week, 3 days ago

Looking rather cloudy, Mudda! Sadly, many politicians, including those in office today, are long on rhetoric and short on actual information. Seems to be the inherent nature of the beasts!

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licks2 1 week, 3 days ago

Well-muddo-take-sick. . .this "feeling" like the red government first scandal. . .minister Dames is stepping deep in some dirty water here. . .I GET THE FELLING THAT HE IS "HIDING SOMEBODY" DUTTY WORKS! I SURE HOPE THAT MY DEEP SUSPICIONS DON'T COME TO PAST. . .HE HIMSELF. . .FAMILY. . .FRIEND OR LOVER MAY BE INVOLVED!! That statement " I really don't care about the company being in one house". For real Mr. Minister? I am afraid that doc may have to fire this one. . .I had high hopes for him. . .it's a damn shame. . .but I have a gut feeling that "he up to his hips in this one". . .doc will have to let the hammer fall where it may if my suspicions are true. . .or he will become irrelevant to Bahamian politics. . .

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TalRussell 1 week, 3 days ago

Comrades! It's not the fault voters!
It has be difficult for thousands red shirts who have 'had enough disappointment' to adjust the heartbreaking truth about the way the PLP and Bran, forced them to vote on May 10, 2017.

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bogart 1 week, 2 days ago

More talk. This is one of the most serious matters one of the where weapons and national security is concerned. Whatever happened to accountability and transparency words used during the election. All we are reading is not transparent enough and we are expected to believe. Alot of investigations but no criminal charges after govt investigations despite findings and only charges where persons are making an accusation against another indovidial who worked on govt. Like the old lady asked where is the meat/beef?.?or the cupboards are empty.

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Greentea 1 week, 2 days ago

I had high hopes for Mr. Dames but he has revealed himself this week to be morally and ethically suspect and in this case a decidedly unwise or perhaps compromised man. I remember watching him perform as Pearlie Victorious in a government high school production back in the day and he was very good. He needs to call up those acting chops from yester year and do better. Because his performance in government so far leaves much to be desired. No script for this performance though and its beginning to look as if without one, there isn't much going on upstairs in the Dames brain. People fool ya all the time, but it never lasts.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 2 days ago

" FOUR men were arraigned in the Magistrate's Court Friday on an unlawful possession of a firearm charge.

The men include Philmore Davis, son of Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis, Don Davis, Matthew Davis and Laven Gibson.

The men are accused of unlawfully possessing a .380 pistol.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Isaacs granted the men bail later Friday afternoon."

The above article appeared in the November 10, 2017 edition of The Tribune and wreaks to high heaven of political victimization of the worst kind aimed at Brave Davis. Minnis and Marvin Dames have no doubt done much ground work in developing their list of targets for political gain and leverage of any kind they can get. Rather than being the large lion of an opposition leader he has become, Brave will now have to behave much more like a small pussy cat in parliament and in public. Not at all good for the people to have a shoot-from-the-hip sheriff with no real opposition in the HOA. Almost makes one wonder if Marvin Dames does not know much more about where many of the guns illegally imported into our country have ended up or will end up.

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