Bethel insists govt broke no laws in Oban deal

Attorney General Carl Bethel.

Attorney General Carl Bethel.


Tribune Staff Reporter


THE Minnis administration has broken no laws with the Oban Energies project, Attorney General Carl Bethel stressed yesterday after another cabinet minister suggested otherwise.

During a recent appearance on Our TV's "On the Record" programme, Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd said the Minnis administration "certainly did not follow the law" in how it processed Oban Energies' application to build a $5.5bn oil refinery and storage centre in East Grand Bahama.

He was responding to the programme's host Jerome Sawyer.

"The Planning and Subdivision Act…it's very clear," Mr Lloyd said, The Nassau Guardian reported. "We didn't follow the law, and obviously we had to retreat."

Countering this, Mr Bethel said yesterday the provisions of the Planning and Subdivision Act are not yet applicable because Oban Energies has not submitted an application to the Department of Physical Planning.

"The Heads of Agreement is a framework, not a blueprint which is unchangeable," Mr Bethel said.

"The fact is that environmental and planning laws must be complied with as set forth in the law. No application for land use has been submitted by the developer and no land use approval has been given. Before any application can be made for land use an EIA must first be completed and submitted to the Town Planning Committee for public consultation and consideration by the Town Planning Committee. None of this has happened so no law has been broken. Mr Bethel continued: "To the extent that the procedural steps might not be fully spelled out point by point in the Heads of Agreement, that does not derogate from the developer its agreement under that HOA to make all required applications to responsible governmental agencies."

The Planning and Subdivision Act mandates that an environmental impact statement be submitted to the Department of Physical Planning for developments expected to have a significant impact on the environment.

The Act says the Town Planning Committee must consider the findings of an environmental impact statement when deliberating on an application "for preliminary support of application or approval".

Environmentalists have criticised a clause in the Oban Energies Heads of Agreement that says the deal cannot be terminated no matter the conclusions of an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

Mr Lloyd is a part of the cabinet subcommittee reviewing the deal.

His recent comments thrust the matter back into headlines, rankling members of the Minnis administration who, The Tribune understands, felt he was not authorised to speak on the deal.

Labour Minister Dion Foulkes heads the cabinet subcommittee examining the matter.

Mr Lloyd's surprise admission renewed speculation that the government wants out of the deal.

"It all points to them trying to back out of it," Opposition Leader Philip "Brave" Davis said yesterday.

"Having pointed out all the challenges they have had on this, it seems to me they want to pull out and are just trying to find a way out of it. The question is whether or not the developer would have a right of action against them going forward because they can't just pull out of an agreement they signed.

Mr Davis said: "On the face of it it appears to be an enforceable arrangement. I think they had an opportunity very early on to pull out but having dug themselves in, I don't know if they can anymore."


TalRussell 5 years, 9 months ago

All we people public expect is for the two going publicly at each other Comrade lawyer trained red shirts cabinet ministers to unvarnished the meaning of, have the Minnis administration broken any laws within the meaning any laws pre and post approval Oban Energies project..... was parliament misled.... when is a signature affixed multi billion dollar agreement to be considered a genuine FAKE?


sheeprunner12 5 years, 9 months ago

What is wrong with this jackass runny mouth Jeff Lloyd????? ....... Why is he always poking his nose in other Ministries, while his portfolio is going to S7#@T????????


TalRussell 5 years, 9 months ago

Ma Comrade Sheeprunner12, could it be when two senior substantive red shirts cabinet ministers open the door people public fight over government's potential law breaking over OBAN, might be seen by people public- how little they personally thinks of the red party's top layer Imperial leadership.... there is always some risk involved to individuals by a party known preaching, we're so politically unlike the PLP who washes their dirty underwear's and hangs them out people's public clotheslines.


DWW 5 years, 9 months ago

this article perfectly alludes to all the political problems in this country. the laws are intentionally ultra specific (vague) and counter negating by design. And will remain so until the bahamian populace stops electing lawyers.


TalRussell 5 years, 9 months ago

Ma Comrade DWW, every court in session day the common man with far smaller legal intelligence are told by da Judge that “Ignorance of the law excuses no man's or woman's, not that all man's and woman's can be expected know the law.


BahamaPundit 5 years, 9 months ago

The Government did break the law in signing the Oban HOA, but this is a good thing. The HOA states that the parties can move ahead with their project, regardless of the results of an environmental impact assessment. Thus, this clause is in breach of the law (Subdivision Act requires an EIA and public consultation in relation thereto) and should then be automatically removed from the HOA. The HOA most likely contains a clause that any term in the agreement in breach of the law should be extracted without voiding the entire contract. This means that the onerous clause is null and void and the Government can void the HOA, should an onerous EIA confirm a negative impact on the environment.


John 5 years, 9 months ago

Two things that have led to a successful decline in crime, especially murders, in this country are 1, when the government came to office and several high profile politicians were arrested, processed and charged with serious crimes. This sent a hard hitting message to Bahamians that this (Minnis led FNM) Government was not tolerant to crime on any level and no one was above the law. Since then the charges brought most of these politicians have been drastically reduced o that many Bahamians consider them frivolous and expect none to be effectively prosecuted. And, in any event, the ending result will be nothing more than a slap on the wrist . And so now the Bahamian public no longer considers Minnis and his team a gang of big, bad wolves who are coming to get you. Then in Marvin Dames and his team of crime fighting police favor, the lull in murders allowed the police not only to focus on and detect many other crimes but to raise the detection rate for murders to st least up to 90 percent. So it sent a clear message that killers were no longer getting away with murder in the country and so the near 50 percent drop in the murder rate has been sustained for the longest period in over a decade. Of course other factors are involved as in the majority of recent murders the killers and victims were known to each other. And most victims in recent murders were stabbed and not shot to death as was the case in at least 95% of murders prior to 2018. So the point is that Minnis was leading a government team that was not tolerant to crime at any level and he was backed by Marv Dames and his team of crime busters. And the recent lock down and search of the prison reinforced this. Now to even have suggestions that the government itself may be operating outside the law must be effectively quashed. Especially in light of the recent crimes where criminals are launching attacks on businesses and individuals in violent attempts of robbery .


joeblow 5 years, 9 months ago

Is this the same man who said there was a gray area in immigration law regarding illegal immigrants? He also seems to be saying that government is not bound by what it signed in the Oban deal!

From what I can see, he is not to be trusted and to think some have said he should be AG!


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