WHEN Billy McFarland left The Bahamas after the debacle that was the Fyre Festival, the country was collectively glad to see the back of him.
Having claimed, along with rapper Ja Rule, that he would deliver the most luxurious festival experience in the world, instead he delivered a laughing stock that would be depicted in two documentaries on Netflix and Hulu. In one of those documentaries, the Netflix film “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened”, there was a claim by event producer Andy King that: “I had the head of the Bahamian Tourist Board, the Minister of Finance, and the head of the University of Bahamas waiting for a million dollars that they wanted to be paid.”
The Minister of Finance at the time was the Prime Minister, Perry Christie, who completely rejected such a claim, calling it “foolish”, while the Minister of State for Finance, Michael Halkitis, said: “Never met (McFarland), never had correspondence or email. I have no idea (about a $1m fee). I never met the guy… I couldn’t say what he’s talking about.”
Meanwhile, McFarland failed to deliver on security, on accommodation, on food, on the acts due to perform, on the supermodels he said people could hang out with – he couldn’t even organise the toilets properly.
Fyre Festival became a synonym for absolute failure, and McFarland became a symbol of the kind of person who talked big and delivered nothing. Worse than nothing.
In fact, McFarland’s actions weren’t just failures – they were crimes.
Dubbed a “serial fraudster”, he was sentenced to six years in prison.
He was guilty of defrauding investors of $26m in the festival. More than that, while he was out on bail pending trial for the Fyre Festival scam, he ran a fraudulent ticket-selling scheme – that he also admitted being guilty of fraud over to the tune of more than $100,000.
And now, after being released early from prison, he is returning to the scene of his crime.
After touring the media in the US, including an appearance on Good Morning America, McFarland has launched a new venture.
It is reportedly a “treasure hunt” that will see people hunting down bottles containing messages in Exuma.
How is he allowed to do this?
Well, the Exuma MP is the Deputy Prime Minister, Chester Cooper, and he says he is not aware of any application by McFarland to do this.
And what about the people who were left with unpaid bills after McFarland’s disaster?
Well, Elvis Rolle of the Exuma Point Beach Bar and Grill told The Tribune yesterday: “Form the time they left the country, I haven’t heard nothing from them.”
Retired island administrator Ivan Ferguson said: “I am totally against Billy McFarland engaging in any more business in my country after the Fyre Festival fiasco, further his conviction in the United States disqualifies him from doing business here. We’re not a nation for sale, therefore we should not jettison the values upon which our nation was built.”
So here we have a man who still owes Bahamians money, whose team has maligned our nation without providing evidence, and who apparently has made no application to do business here, and has a criminal conviction for fraud loud on his record even if he does make such an application.
His money should be no good here. His reputation should proceed him, and he should be judged accordingly.
So if he shows up, we hope the authorities carry out the appropriate action. If he is operating a business without a licence here, he should be charged accordingly. He should be taken to a Bahamian court, and be dealt with.
And before he can expect any forgiveness, he should not simply go on American television with a mea culpa – he should look the Bahamians who he left on the hook for money in the eye and make a proper apology. And pay them what he owes them.
The Bahamas doesn’t need a Billy McFarland.