OBAN Energies President Satpal Dhunna has said Peter Krieger, the company’s non-executive chairman, signed a heads of agreement with the Bahamas government during a “ceremonial” event at the Office of the Prime Minister three weeks ago because he, Dhunna, could not make it.
In a March 7 letter addressed to the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Dhunna said he signed “the original counterparts” of the heads of agreement “for and on behalf of Oban Energies” in Nassau prior to his return to London.
“As I was unable to return for the ceremonial signing scheduled for February 19, 2018, Peter Krieger, non-executive chairman, attended under the consent of Oban Energies, including but not limited to its members, the ceremonial signing for and on behalf of Oban Energies LLC,” Mr Dhunna’s letter notes.
“Oban Energies. . . hereby considers itself bound by the heads of agreement and is fully committed to progressing the project in accordance therewith.”
Last week it was revealed Mr Krieger did not sign his own name on the heads of agreement for the deal that was inked on February 19, but appeared to sign Mr Dhunna’s name instead.
Officials did not reveal during the press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister that Mr Krieger would be doing this.
The heads of agreement tabled in Parliament by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis on March 1 bore Mr Dhunna’s name. It was dated February 19.
It is one of a string of controversies associated with the $5.5bn project in recent weeks and led to calls for greater transparency from the Minnis administration.
Philip Davis, former deputy prime minister, said last week that “ceremonial” signings like this one are “unusual”. He called for the government to release the document signed by Mr Krieger.
“Even in cases where it happens, you’d indicate that it is ceremonial so parties can be aware,” the Progressive Liberal Party leader said. “If because of convenience the document is required to be signed in this way before you make it public, you should say it and not let the public believe something that wasn’t the case.”
Mr Krieger’s participation at the event marking the heads of agreement’s signing last month reportedly caught some members of the Minnis administration by surprise, The Tribune was told.
His visibility was owed to a family connection he has to at least one of the project’s beneficial owners, two sources in the Minnis administration have said. He has since been permanently removed from his public role in the project, sources said.
It has been previously reported Mr Krieger has faced a Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit alleging misappropriation of millions in investor funds.
Mr Krieger also pleaded guilty to first-degree felony of organised fraud in 2006. He has been barred in the US from acting as a broker or investment adviser or otherwise associating with firms that sell securities or provide investment advice to the public.
The government has also been attacked for a clause in the Oban heads of agreement which prohibits its termination whatever environmental impact assessments conclude.
However, the agreement empowers the minister responsible for the environment to force the discontinuation of any “operation or equipment” from the project that causes an environmental infraction.
In a paid advertisement published in local dailies last week, Mr Dhunna advised people not to pay attention to the “noise in the market” but to be aware of the positive things that the project will bring to Grand Bahama.