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Pm Orders Probe Into Bpl Board Meltdown

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

THE government will launch a formal investigation into the saga at Bahamas Power and Light and the circumstances that led to the shock dissolution of its board of directors and a bitter war of words with top officials.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis told the media at a press briefing in Grand Bahama that he met with former board members early yesterday morning.

He later told reporters he has not yet chosen the investigators.

“I have met this morning with the past BPL board members,” Dr Minnis said.

“I had a very good meeting with them and I have informed them in light of what has been transpiring that the government will initiate a proper investigation into the BPL saga and when we complete that investigation that will be made readily available to you.”

Minister of Works Desmond Bannister, who has responsibility for BPL, has laid the blame for dysfunction at the former board squarely at the feet of its ex-chair, Darnell Osbourne.

Mr Bannister told the media he only became involved with the operations of the BPL board of directors in a bid to block the company from paying the personal bills of its former chairwoman, including make-up services and the installation of a home security system.

It was later confirmed the home security system had been approved by the board.

It was also alleged by sources close to the matter that the security system was agreed by the board after BPL Executive Director Patrick Rollins shared an experience of having his car destroyed by fire as chairman of Nassau Flight Services. Mr Rollins said only Mrs Osborne among the board members upgraded her home security after he had recounted his story.

The Tribune understands there was a make-up bill submitted for services rendered in connection with a company branding photoshoot, which included scores of other employees. Mr Bannister  - made aware of this explanation - contended he was referring to a different bill which reflected make-up services for only Mrs Osborne.

Yesterday, Mr Rollins said he looked forward to getting back on course with major projects at the corporation after a much needed “reset” of its board of directors.

Mr Rollins backed claims levelled by Mr Bannister that the relationship between himself and Mrs Osborne changed dramatically after he was appointed as executive director.

He insisted he did not have any personal issues with Mrs Osborne, adding the relationship was “pretty good” until his appointment.

“Things had pretty much gone as normal and then once I was announced executive director things took a dive,” Mr Rollins said.

“Nothing was allowed to happen. It got frustrating trying to get things done. It had to come through her, she wanted to make a point that if she couldn’t have her way nothing would happen. It was unfortunate but that’s how it was.

“I didn’t have a problem with her,” he continued, “I had a problem that we weren’t getting things done because of the situation. I don’t think it should be that because I’m not satisfied with the way things are going, I should just bring everything to a halt. At the end of the day it’s not serving the Bahamian people.”

Of the board’s dissolution, Mr Rollins said: “It was a reset, we can get back on course and get things going.”

Mr Bannister’s rebuttal on Tuesday followed accusations of political interference in a statement penned by Mrs Osborne and two former board members, Nicola Thompson and Nick Dean.

In their joint statement issued on Sunday, the former BPL board members defended their tenure and said Mrs Osborne in particular was “continually disrespected and undermined”, suggesting chauvinism was at play.

The group has declined further comment, but sources close to the matter identified other key allegations against CEO Whitney Heastie and Mr Rollins such as unauthorised travel and negotiations contrary to directives of the board; and attempts to subvert the procurement process.

However, Mr Bannister told The Tribune he believed the discord between board members stemmed directly from Mrs Osborne’s disenchantment over his decision to appoint Mr Rollins to the executive director post after it was vacated by Deepak Bhatnagar late last year.

Mr Bannister further alleged to Tribune Business that Mrs Osborne exposed New Providence residents to power outages by blocking the purchase of critical parts, and as a result, the corporation was facing a $10m-plus loss.

Outside Cabinet, Mr Bannister said he directed Mr Heastie to provide the media with invoices submitted by Mrs Osborne. However, supporting documents have yet to be released.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months ago

As much as I have always maintained Darnell Osborne was not suitably qualified to be Chairman of BPL, it is all too obvious from the matters now in the public domain that the real troublemakers at BPL have been Patrick Rollins and Whitney Heastie, with Bannister affording these two miscreants much political cover. Bannister's ministerial interference of the worst possible kind started a long time before he capriciously sacked those he did not want to remain involved with BPL's affairs. The political cover he gave Rollins and Heastie behind the scenes seriously undermined the board and eventually resulted in the board becoming totally dysfunctional.

And it simply is not good enough for Minnis to state:

"THE government will launch a formal investigation into the saga at Bahamas Power and Light and the circumstances that led to the shock dissolution of its board of directors and a bitter war of words with top officials."

Such a statement from Minnis is nothing but code for his intention to do diddly-squat more about the matter when instead he should be immediately serving up the heads of Rollins, Heastie and Bannister on a platter.

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DDK 3 months ago

It's beginning to look that way. Any way you cut it, it is another Bahamas Government disaster at the expense of The People. The entire government is beginning to look dysfunctional. What in Goodness' name can be done to save us from worse to come?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months ago

And let's all pray Minnis does not appoint his favourite investigators (the EY accounting firm) to conduct a full investigation into the apparent reprehensible conduct of Rollins, Heastie and Bannister. We all now know the government has been leveraging EY's exposure to legal action as the independent auditors of Bank of The Bahamas (BOB) in order to get all sorts of investigation reports from EY that are very incriminating of senior officials in the previous government. In fact, EY is so conflicted in the role it has had as auditors of BOB that it should not have accepted any of the many investigation engagements that the Minnis-led FNM government has requested that it undertake in connection with matters pertaining to the previous government. The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) should itself be looking into the conflicts of interest that exist between the government and EY.

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BahamasForBahamians 3 months ago

Lol.. Is this supposed to encourage public confidence?

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ThisIsOurs 3 months ago

Listen Mrs Osbourne, LBT and Key already tell y'all how Minnis operates. Nothing will come of any "probe". In fact he probably ordered the dissolution of the board.

He told everyone to calm down he would go to parliament to give rationale for buying the Lucayan, in a post-birthday surprise to all of us, apparently he meant, explain AFTER he bought it. Just like Oban, just like VAT. If you still want wait on the result of some probe, that's on you.

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TalRussell 3 months ago

Apparently after meeting fired BPL board directors, does seems the Comrade Prime Minister might soon calls up his attorney general Carl Wilshire - to unleash his team hired probing hit squad - on one he own. Carl Wilshire will need watch even more episodes Law & Order, to freshin up on whole new set what constitutes poor judgment versus legal issues. { Why make up such Imperial red shirts erosion good governance? }. How dare the PM, publicly undermines actions one his own crown ministers for discharging he ministerial duties?

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bogart 2 months, 4 weeks ago

@Muddatek sic ...you are firing on all cylinders...on the BICA ...Ms Osboirne was a past leader....and prior election was a major fundraiser for the patry. The dilemna is the upper echelons are all connected...it does not matter which party is in power...and it does not matter how hard they say no political interfrrance in boards...commonsense is they appoint persons who support their political agenda and there is little difference between slightly left or right of center....the appointed persons almost always fail to hold past boards accountable for wrongs being from the same work professional pool background connrcted and so continues the saga earning the pay, perks and the work becomes more difficult but the key factors is the benefits for the new crew next five years...and the pore still remsin at the bottom unless they send their children away ...an the elite prepare comditions for the nrxt set of pore to fill places....schooling if free and no one is to be asked for papers of nationality or status or parents status...still waiting for the Ministry of National Security to say something..on groups of persons or their parents....

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DDK 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Sounds like all your cylinders are firing too lol! It would be hilarious if it were not such a damn never-ending mess.

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CaptainCoon 2 months, 4 weeks ago

They are running this country the same way Zuma ran South Africa, like a blithering idiot showing his baboon rear end as he embezzled millions. I keep saying it and I'll keep saying it. I am disappointed in this FNM administration, the operate like a pack of baboons throwing feces and wasting public monies.

Meanwhile, light bills are high and the cost of doing business continues to increase. SAD!

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