By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A Bahamian security firm is now focusing on “raising the bar” for itself and wider industry after settling a legal battle with its former partner on the criminal ankle bracelet monitoring contract.
Stephen Greenslade, founder and president of ICS Security Concepts, confirmed to Tribune Business that both sides had agreed “to walk away” from their long-running dispute relating to how the $12m proceeds from the contract with the Ministry of National Security had been split.
Secure Alert (now renamed Track Group) last week filed a dismissal notice, which the Puerto Rico federal court approved on April 17, to end the fight with ICS and leave both parties bearing their own legal costs and fees.
“We agreed to just walk away,” Mr Greenslade told Tribune Business, adding that both parties had also consented “to not discuss anything about the action” or its ending. But, explaining their rationale, he said: “Battling a legal case is very expensive potentially. That is one part of it.
“The other part is we came to a point where we decided not to fight as persons who were in partnership before. ICS has a culture of fostering peace and harmony in our relationships. We’re happy it’s coming to an end, and we can continue with our vision plan for the next decade in operating our business.”
Describing the legal battle with Track Group as “a major distraction” from ICS’ core business and operations, Mr Greenslade added: “We’re already operating in a tough economy and environment as it is, and distractions are not helpful.”
Track Group, Secure Alert’s successor, filed its action with Puerto Rico’s federal court in January in a bid to uphold a $689,613 arbitration award in its favour and against ICS.
This move came after the Bahamian security firm successfully convinced the arbitrator, Stuart Weinstein-Bacal, that he had made “a mathematical error” in that award resulting in an “overpayment” to Track Group.
Mr Weinstein-Bacal, on October 22, 2018, amended his calculations to find that ICS owed “zero” to its former partner over the ankle bracelet monitoring contract that they secured in 2009-2010.
Now able to put their fight behind him, Mr Greenslade said he and ICS could now turn their attention to their own corporate objectives and those of the wider private security industry.
“We’ve always had an objective to raise the bar with private security services in the country,” he told Tribune Business, “and that particular project [ankle bracelet monitoring] was a part of that plan where we saw a need for the service in The Bahamas.
“Again, the thing we want to do in The Bahamas is really see the private security sector take its responsibility in society to another level.” Pointing out that private security firms played a key role in crime prevention and supporting law enforcement, Mr Greenslade said ICS planned to exploit its international partnerships to bring new technologies and techniques to The Bahamas.
“We want to put more assets on the ground, modernise security in The Bahamas, and bring in technology from other jurisdictions we operate in to The Bahamas as we see the benefit,” he said. “We have partnerships all across the world, including south Florida.
“We want to see that type of benefit come to The Bahamas so that we have a country that is saying to people coming to visit us, do business with us, and legally migrating to us that we are raising the bar to another level, and bringing peace and prosperity to The Bahamas.
“There’s a lot more to come from ICS. We are already going to the next level. Our appeal to Bahamian society is that we want the level of appreciation for the private security sector as a whole to increase.
“We have a wide archipelago of islands, our demographics and population are growing, pushing higher and higher every year. This sector is one of the primary industries in the country to keep peace and harmony, and that’s what our objective is.”
The arbitration battle was sparked after Mr Greenslade and ICS accused Track Group, and the other partner on the ankle bracelet monitoring contract, of “deceiving” them into unjustly parting with two-thirds of the $12m contract proceeds.
Their arrangement, which won the first ankle bracelet contract after it was put out to bid in 2009, provided for an even three-way split of the monies paid by the Ministry of National Security - each receiving one-third - for monitoring accused Bahamian criminals released on bail.
Mr Greenslade, though, alleged that Secure Alert (now renamed Track Group) and International Surveillance Services (ISS) deliberately concealed how close they were - and the fact they were effectively one and the same company following a July 2011 “merger” - to obtain a greater share of the contract revenues than they were entitled to.
Upon discovering the extent of his partners’ ties in 2015, Mr Greenslade stopped remitting them two-thirds of the ankle bracelet contract revenue and cut it to 50 percent to reflect ICS’ belief that it was now a 50/50 joint venture with Secure Alert.
This sparked the legal battle which continued even after the ICS joint venture lost the ankle bracelet contract when it was put out for renewal by the Christie administration and subsequently awarded to Migrafill, which is headed by former assistant police commissioner, Grafton Ifill Snr, in late 2016.
The ankle bracelet monitoring contract was hailed as a landmark initiative for The Bahamas’ criminal justice system when it was first unveiled, billed as a way to supervise accused criminals released on bail and ensure they complied with the conditions imposed on their movements/activities by the courts to keep Bahamian society safe.
Besides preventing such persons from engaging in further criminal activity, the ankle bracelets’ introduction was also designed to reduce overcrowding at Fox Hill Prison by enabling the release of remand prisoners while awaiting trial.
However, concerns over the ankle bracelets’ effectiveness surfaced almost immediately. Several persons wearing them were murdered, while it was reported that the bracelets’ could be removed by those wearing them and/or disabled by placing tin foil around them. Mr Greenslade, though, defended ICS as giving “very good service”.