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Pm Dismisses Oban Energies Concerns

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis

• PM insists former government signed off on Oban Energies

• SEC lawsuit against Krieger dismissed as ‘old news’

• Website wiped to hide details of leadership team

• Company ‘took advantage of Minnis’ naivety’

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis dismissed concerns yesterday about Peter Krieger, the non-executive chairman of Oban Energies and public face of the multi-billion-dollar project, who has faced a Securities Exchange Commission lawsuit alleging misappropriation of millions in investor funds, saying the revelations are “not new.” 

Insisting previous administrations performed due diligence assessments on the project before his administration decided to push it forward, Dr Minnis suggested the heads of agreement for the $5.5 billion East Grand Bahama project will ease concerns that have emerged about all the people behind the project when it is tabled.

However, the agreement was not tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday as officials said it would be. 

Asked why, Dr Minnis told reporters: “Parliament was very short today, but it will be tabled next week.”

Mr Krieger paid $110,000 to settle a SEC lawsuit about a decade ago, though he did not admit guilt or innocence in the case. He was also a defendant in a legal action filed in 2013 by the Bahamas-based judicial manager for a sister company of the insolvent insurer, CLICO, in which he was accused of misappropriating $8.7m of the company’s funds for his own personal use. The case against him was dismissed after it was determined that the statute of limitations had passed. Mr Krieger has stressed he is an “ambassador” for Oban Energies and would have an “extremely limited” role once approvals are obtained.    

Dr Minnis dismissed these revelations about him as old news yesterday, despite the fact that they were not previously acknowledged or disclosed to the Bahamian public. 

“These are matters that were dealt with by former governments,” Dr Minnis said when questioned outside Parliament. “They had done their necessary due diligence; we completed the heads of agreement.”

Suggesting he is satisfied that Mr Krieger has “explained himself,” Dr Minnis said: “Y’all have drilled him. What I would say is that all governments have gone through the process of due diligence; they were quite happy and the heads had already started; what we did was complete the heads of agreement. Due diligence and everything were done by the previous governments and, of course, the Bahamas Investment Authority despite what it would’ve inherited, would’ve gone through everything and explained everything to us.”

Dr Minnis did not directly address revelations that the three executives of the project may have had their qualifications or background exaggerated. 

Yesterday the company edited its website, removing all references to the executives just a week after Dr Minnis made claims in the House of Assembly nearly identical to what the website claimed about the company’s management team. 

As he addressed the deal in the House of Assembly last week, Dr Minnis said he was “advised that Oban Energies’ management team has been involved in large energy infrastructure projects around the world and brings over 30 years of large complex construction experience.”

However, the executive from the company said to have over 30 years management experience with expertise in construction operations, Senior Vice President Russell Erickson, actually has a history in boat manufacturing. He was also recently a car salesman, though a former manager of a company he worked for told The Tribune this week he was fired for lack of performance. Mr Krieger said Monday efforts will be made to establish Mr Erickson’s “extensive experience” in construction. 

The Tribune also revealed yesterday that the company’s president, Satpal Dhunna, was dismissed from CreditSights, a credit research firm, in 2010 for alleged “gross misconduct;” he had not been a managing director of the firm as he claimed, according to a representative of the company. 

In addition, the man identified as the finance chief of the project, Mark Michel, should not have been included on the website as part of the company’s management team, according to the chief executive of the company Mr Michel works for, Anthony Felice. Mr Felice, who heads Drexel Hamilton, an investment banking firm, said Mr Michel is a director of a department at the firm, not the managing director as was claimed. He said the company has been helping Oban Energies with financial issues relating to the project. 

Mr Krieger has said the bank backing them will produce a letter for the government this week indicating its financial support for the project. Critics have not only expressed concern about the track record of Oban Energies, but successive administrations are said to have been concerned about whether it could demonstrate proof of funding. 

When Dr Minnis was asked if he is confident financiers of the project were aware of the true background of the executives and are minded to back the project despite yesterday’s revelations, he said: “Ask me of my confidence? …No, I don’t want to say what I want to say. I’m on TV. But the heads of agreement will explain everything.”

He added: “I think what happens is y’all should wait until the heads of agreement is tabled in Parliament next week. You will see what individuals are supposed to do with commitments they’re responsible for, guidelines, etc. The head will speak for itself. I think it’s essential for the heads to be tabled next week so you can read it in its entirety before you start jumping off the edge left, right and centre. Wait for the heads of agreement and see who signed the heads of agreement, etc, explains a lot of what you’re looking for now. That’s why it is essential before jumping off a cliff and asking questions, it’s essential to review the heads of agreement then you come after me, but don’t come in the blind. It’s like you sitting on the moon with a fishing line, dropping that line and trying to catch one fish on earth; you don’t know where the hell it going throughout the universe.”

Although Dr Minnis repeatedly emphasised that previous administrations had no concerns about the project, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) officials disputed this yesterday.

Comments

Porcupine 5 months, 3 weeks ago

"It’s like you sitting on the moon with a fishing line, dropping that line and trying to catch one fish on earth; you don’t know where the hell it going throughout the universe.” This is how I've felt since these guys got into office. I, for the life of me, just can't figure our where these MPs heads are at. Honestly, it almost seems like we jumped from the frying pan into the fire with this FNM government.

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proudloudandfnm 5 months, 3 weeks ago

This reminds me of the PLPs Pegasus deal. If this is indeed a scam then Minnis better resign. Shit. Freeport just can't catch a damned break...

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BahamasForBahamians 5 months, 3 weeks ago

This article is a clear indication that this government has lost its way and is obviously disconnected from the electorate.

It is very sad - less than 12 months into the term and it wreaks of the same deficiencies that plagued the last government.

When will parliamentarians ever get it?

Your allegiance is to the wider majority of Bahamians not just to the team of 35 that sits in Parliament nor The Cabinet team.

This is a government of resource so I'm sure they've seen the concerns - expressed by even some of their own supporters - on the feasibility and financing of this project.

Rather than embrace the concerns, this administration is determined to silence them.

Newsflash Hubert and Gang - We do not care if you guys are happy with the Oban team and their deal.

WE ARE NOT.

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TalRussell 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Ma Comrades Imperial Red regime should be ashamed to have presented these kinds people to Grand Bahamalanders as their - It's the Grand Bahamalanders time. Funny how they now claim rely on the judgment of former PM Christie. My old friend late Joe Monks would not have done such a thing to the hurting Grand Bahamalanders..... the big ass red cover up lies done started and the people does knows when "recolonise" a lie when they hear it. Was there not a single red cabinet minister that posses the balls tell the PM and his colleagues that this was a bad idea for Grand Bahama? Cry Shame, Cry Shame! Brungs back the Queen!

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Marine 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Has the US Embassy issued any statement ?

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licks2 5 months, 2 weeks ago

THE US EMBASSY DON'T TALK NONSENSE LIKE YINNA POLITICAL HACKS. . .THEIR PRESIDENT, THEIR GREATEST ALLY IN THE MIDDLE EAST. . .HELL THE WHOLE WORLD GOT SOME "SOILED DOVE" IN CRITICAL PLACES. . .ONLY THIS NATION CARRY ON LIKE THEY "THING DON'T STINK". . .EVERYBODY KNOW WHAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD DO. . .HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

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John 5 months, 3 weeks ago

with gas prices almost hitting 5.00 and oil still around 60.00 may as well let em coming finish ripping us off.

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John 5 months, 3 weeks ago

it's like the dumb jack asses who blaming the webshops for everything that going wrong in the country. They seem to forget that numbers were in operation decades before they became legalized. the web shops are now creating more jobs and putting more money in the public treasury than ever before. The banks problem s include high liquidity, low performing loan portfolios and reluctance to make additional loans due to a weak economy. its 'redneck' theory that the webshops are causing banks to close. Like saying the hen stopping he cow from giving milk.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 months, 3 weeks ago

For the most part you're clearly a self-confessed trolling rep of one of the numbers bosses. I therefore suspect most regular visitors to this website, like me, don't give what you have to say the time of day.

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John 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Maybe that' why you respond to every post I make...just saying

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OldFort2012 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I really don't understand.

How hard is it to get a Letter of Intent from a financial institution? It will reveal immediately whether there is financing in place or not. If there is, why should I care about some alleged SEC deal a decade ago?

If there is not, then I could not care less if you were Jesus Christ. You have no money and I have nothing to talk to you about.

I mean, it's Business 101.

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licks2 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Man. . .used some common sense. . .you go in one bank and ask for $100, 000 to buy one house! When the bank people dem ask you about the house you want buy just tell them "I'een know " but just gee me da money and I gern ta look fer one house". . .hahahahahahahahahahahhahaha! That's them bank people dem on da ground laughing at ya silly tail! But business 101. . .yoon know a dang thing about big business. . .No bank in the world will gee you the money first. . .and yoon got nothing to buy with it first!

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John 5 months, 3 weeks ago

How difficult is it for Hubert Minnis to call up Hubert Ingraham and/or Perry Christie and discuss this project? Does the Bahamas need another black eye? do the people in Grand Bahama need to have their hopes dashed again? All the information is out there and easily accessible.

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K4C 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I am reminded of a famous quote

He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas"

translated to the 21st century

"You should be cautious of the company you keep. Associating with those of low reputation may not only lower your own but also lead you astray by the faulty assumptions, premises and data of the unscrupulous."

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birdiestrachan 5 months, 3 weeks ago

It appears as if he will blame the PLP if this project fails . It will be the PLP fault.. They say when you Dumb, you dangerous.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 months, 3 weeks ago

“These are matters that were dealt with by former governments,” Dr Minnis said when questioned outside Parliament. “They had done their necessary due diligence; we completed the heads of agreement.”

And to think Minnis's general election campaign was all about the abhorrent corruption at the highest levels of the Christie-led PLP government, the very government whose due diligence he now seems quite content to rely on!

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DDK 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Puzzling, to say the least, Mudda. Seems Birdie (above) might have hit the nail on the head!

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BONEFISH 5 months, 3 weeks ago

This project was rejected by the NEC under the Rt.Honorable Hubert Ingraham previously in 2009.There were concerns whether it was viable then. What has changed since? This country needs that FOIA badly.

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TheMadHatter 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The intense flow of negativity whenever there is discussion of non-Chinese investment in Freeport is very curious. But not mysterious.

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bogart 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Crucial fact overlooked is that Roc wid Doc is the CEO and does not have the Minister of Finance portfolio. Given that the PM is not the Finance Minister should enable more synergies, two heads are better than one to arrinve at the best position along with govt analysts etc. plus in all fairness this undertaking was already in the works by previous govt. And credit is owed to them also.10 ? years working on this project.

Imagination....vision to see success and create conditions to enable it is what is needed..... Of course protective contractural clauses, performance bond etc is standard...

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BahamasForBahamians 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The previous administrations (PLP and FNM) shelved the project for the same reasons we are complaining now.

That should be mentioned anytime you include previous administrations into this conversation.

Only our current jackass of a Prime Minister saw it fitting to go ahead with this deal that essentially f**ks over the Bahamian people - most significantly - the ones of Grand Bahama

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TalRussell 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Ma Comrades, I ain't saying true but I did learn from most reliable red insider that the - not really the Chairman of Oban - sure looked likes he knew his way around PMO on day PM's big announcement - likes he been up there before?

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John 5 months, 3 weeks ago

So what about the cruise port that was signed off on be Perry Christie just before the Elections? That project should also be revisited and reviewed. Any cruise line that wants to take its passengers away from Freeport proper and/or discourage them from spending locally should be given least priority to visiting The Bahamas. They bring no benefit.

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birdiestrachan 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The cruise port will not cause as much damage to the environment . The people of East end will reap the benefits. All this will be out of the Port area they will not benefit.

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John 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Where are these Oban Energies guys from? Asking for a friend.

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BahamasForBahamians 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Mackey Street. Across from that muffler place.

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SP 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The PLP propaganda machine is working overtime to undermine PM Minnis. Thinking people have enough sense to recognize tribal warfare for what it is.

Dr. Minnis has proven on numerous occasions to be more level-headed than Christie and Ingraham.The fair thing to do is examine the heads of agreement before jumping to a conclusion.

Our country is in a serious mess after suffering 25 years of asinine stupidity under Christie and Ingraham "leadership". This is no time for political games!

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joeblow 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Minnis is out of his depth! He, as a physician, cannot even ensure healthcare in this country is properly addressed. He is PM ONLY because the Bahamian people had no other choice on election day. With every decision he proves he is not up to the task. He may be a fine leader of the opposition, but PM material he is not!

It is far better not to make a deal than to make one with the devil himself!

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