EDITOR, The Tribune.
IT is an age old quote that has vibrated through history for almost as long as civilisations have been around. The expression: ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts is still true and relevant to this very day. The Bahamas, both before colonialism as we know it and long before Columbus walked our shores developed a dubious reputation of an unsavory nature as a land of pirates; a land of bootleggers; a land of land speculators; a land of white-collar crime (fraud and corporate sleight of hand} and most recently as a nation for sale.
The bulk of the players over the years have been foreigners and their Bahamian associates. In the 1940s and 50s when prohibition was in full swing in the USA, The Bahamas (Bahama Islands) was a known haven and facilitator for rum running from our shores into the USA. Big profits were made and countless people, mostly Americans would have lost their lives on the pursuit of financial gains. It is alleged that a few Bahamian families actually started their accumulation of fantastic wealth and privilege as a direct result of bootlegging and even gun running and smuggling of migrants into the USA.
Long before this Columbus and his fellow Europeans: the British; the Spanish and a handful of other national came over into this part of the world looking for gold and to establish cotton plantations and other profit generating businesses. They all imported black Africans over here. Some landed in the USA where they toiled day in and day out or were subjected to all sorts of inhumane treatments. The males were beaten into submission and, it is said, that their females, inclusive of girls were publicly raped and otherwise sexually assaulted right before their very eyes as a means of demoralising them and forcing them into submission.
Much later came the fraudsters and white-collar proponents. Most of us who are not too young to remember this or too old to have forgotten, will recall most British and Canadian ‘investors’. They ‘bought’ huge tracts of land from the governments of the day and, allegedly, swindled countless of uneducated and native Bahamians, black and white, of tens of thousands of virgin land which they then flipped while pocketing millions of dollars before ‘abandoning’ developments. Others came in and opened banks and insurance companies. A few even got casino licenses for a pittance and, allegedly, consultancy fees. Grand Bahama and Paradise Island were vital cogs in the wheel.
IOS and Bernie Cornfield, along with Robert Vesco and the Shah of Iran were, at first, welcomed into The Bahama Islands after, apparently becoming tight with our home-grown politicians and their cronies. IOS became large overnight. Vesco and prominent Bahamians opened at least one major bank, which still exist today under a different corporate identity. Bahama Sound, over in Exuma, has yet to recover or proceed from the hey days of multiple foreign developers and investors.
After this came the transnational drug dealers. Mind you, there is little doubt that the bulk of the smuggled narcotics was destined for the USA; Canada and Europe. Unfortunately, many of their local allies themselves were partly compensated in duffle bags and kilos. What they did not personally consumed they sold or gave away to other locals. Thereafter the phrase was coined: ‘A Nation for Sale’ and the rest is history. Drug and turf wars became the other of those days as they are to this very day.
Our politicians; lawyers and law enforcement officers were ensnared, in numerous cases, to facilitate drug trafficking without any concern or regard for the mental and societal consequences. Bahamians were walking the local streets, mumbling to themselves and counting lamp poles. The rest were admitted to Sandilands or incarcerated in Fox Hill Prisons or extradited to the USA.
The latest ‘growth’ criminal industry is human smuggling and the importation of illegal ammunition and firearms. It is my firm suspicion that these activities are being aided and abetted by some of our law enforcement officers and local money launderers. With the advent of digitalisation and the emergence of crypto currency it is inevitable that we shall see even more Greeks bearing gifts. The Davis administration must ensure that due diligence is conducted on All incoming investors, for whatever purposes. If it is to buy or flip a hotel or resort.... due diligence. If it is an ‘investor blowing his horn... due diligence’.
The recent ‘failures’ of an internationally acclaimed group to ‘buy’ The Grand Lucayan recently fell through because, allegedly, it was unable to access the required funding. This is After a deal was struck and closure should have been months ago. A week or so ago, a young man, claiming to be a billionaire crypto outfit crashed and burned spectacularly and ongoing federal and local investigations are playing out. Again, I say, beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
ORTLAND H BODIE, Jr
November 13, 2022.