Peter Turnquest has resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
In a statement, Mr Turnquest hit out at the “unfounded and untrue claims” against him and said he would continue to serve as the Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama.
The move comes after a statement of claim filed in the Supreme Court last week claimed Mr Turnquest and his Sky Bahamas business partner Captain Randy Butler, “dishonestly caused” Alpha Aviation and Advanced Aviation to “pay away” $20.68m and $5.917m respectively to the airline via “some kind of bogus loans”. Mr Turnquest is not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit.
“It has been my great honour and privilege to serve my country in public office,” Mr Turnquest's statement said. “I have done so with total fidelity and adherence to the tenets of our democracy and the Westminster conventions by which we are guided.”
“As consequence of all the unfounded and untrue claims that that have been circulating in the mainstream press as well as in social media, to protect my family, and in the best interest of my Constituency and my Party, I have offered my resignation as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to the Prime Minister with immediate effect.
“I will continue to serve out the term of my election as the Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama for whose prayers and support, I continue to be most humble and grateful.
“My focus as Minister of Finance has been to deepen our democracy by enacting legislation that reformed and modernized the management of our economy and the public's finances. I am confident in the team of young men and women at the Ministry of Finance who will continue that work.
“When I met with the Prime Minister today I informed him that while I am confident that once the allegations against me has been fully ventilated through the courts my reputation of transparency and accountability will be vindicated, I did not want a private business dispute, which occurred prior to my taking public office, to become a distraction to the Government, or to the important national work that lies ahead.
“Our nation is undergoing an unprecedented time in its history. We are fighting a global pandemic, resulting in unprecedented economic challenges and a difficult road ahead to maintain stability and recovery. We must all continue to commit to doing our part.
“I look forward to putting this matter behind me and continuing to encourage modernization and reform in our country to which, I remain so grateful for allowing me to serve.
“At an appropriate time, I will have more formal comments to make in regards to the circumstances of the allegations made against me and the actors that have perpetuated it.”
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said he had accepted Mr Turnquest’s resignation and thanked him for his service.
“I have accepted the resignation of the Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest, effective immediately,” Dr Minnis said in a statement.
“I thank Mr. Turnquest for his service to The Bahamas, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I will serve as interim Minister of Finance and will make a substantive appointment in due course.”
• See Thursday's Tribune for the full story.