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Minnis calls on MPs to reveal BOB loans

Dr Hubert Minnis

Dr Hubert Minnis

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

FREE National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday called for all parliamentarians to immediately disclose whether they received any loans from the Bank of the Bahamas (BOB).

Dr Minnis said the disclosure and a thorough forensic audit of the institution were critical to restoring confidence and credibility following reports of the ongoing financial troubles at the bank.

Dr Minnis pointed to reports published in Tribune Business, which stated that BOB Chairman Richard Demeritte admitted that political considerations had influenced past lending decisions at the bank.

However, Mr Demeritte released a statement yesterday that refuted the earlier report.

“I was merely acknowledging that I was aware of perceptions that politically influenced loans had been made in the past,” Mr Demeritte said.

“I was not, however, agreeing to the truth of the matter. Although the perception persists, I have never seen any credible evidence that politically influenced loans were granted by executive management nor requested or instructed to be granted by any board of directors at Bank of The Bahamas. In fact, I would like to use this opportunity to set the record straight that when the loans, which are now in the non-performing category were initially granted, they met all of the qualifications for lending.

“What has changed as a result of the economic climate of recent years is Bank of The Bahamas’ appetite for credit risk. There has been, and will be going forward, a fundamental shift in the appetite for credit risk as we restructure and regain our footing on the path to sustainability,” the chairman added.

Still, Dr Minnis charged that the government uses its people as a “safety net.”

“Instead of fixing the bank they force the people to pay for their mismanagement. Bahamians deserve better, and the first steps to fixing the bank are with transparency and accountability – the time for action is now,” Dr Minnis said.

He added: “When will our government learn? The signs weren’t hard to read - the Bank of The Bahamas has reported over $100 million in losses since the PLP returned to office in 2012.

“The people cannot be expected to continue bailing out the bank. The time for action is now. First, there needs to be a comprehensive forensic audit of the bank by a reputable, independent firm. Secondly, we cannot have ‘the fox guarding the henhouse’ – every member of Parliament should provide the people with full disclosure of the nature and extent to which they or their immediate family members have contributed to BOB being in its present perilous financial state.”

Dr Minnis added: “Do they have – or did they receive – a secured or unsecured loans or any other favourable financial considerations from the bank?”

Dr Minnis also noted the government had paid more than $3.1 million in dividends to the bank’s preference shareholders in the 2015 and 2016 financial years.

He highlighted that the government, a majority shareholder, had been forced to bail out the bank several times - most notably in 2014 when it created Resolve Bahamas.

Resolve is a state-owned and controlled company that was established to assume liability for $100 million of BOB’s non-performing commercial loans.

At the time, BOB had incurred losses in the previous two years, with its most recent quarterly report noting that its shareholders incurred $4.172 million in “red ink.”

Paul McWeeney, then managing director of BOB, advised that none of the troubled commercial loans assigned to Bahamas Resolve would involve “politically exposed” persons.

Comments

realfreethinker 8 years, 3 months ago

$3.1m in dividends and the bank lost more $100m. What a country

TalRussell 8 years, 3 months ago

FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday called for all parliamentarians to immediately disclose whether they received any loans from the Bank of the Bahamas (BOB).Dr Minnis said the disclosure and a thorough forensic audit of the institution were critical to restoring confidence and credibility following reports of the ongoing financial troubles at the bank.
Comrades may I suggest the embattled red shirts party leader might want start with asking his own red shirts some serous questions, and to call for a thorough forensic audit of his own red party "unsure" finances?
When asked former FNM Chairman Michael Pintard said earlier this month: “Not to my knowledge," no cheque from save the Bays (STB] has ever "passed through" to the FNM.
FNM deputy leader Peter Turnquest said; "To the best of his knowledge," Save the Bays (STB) has not even indirectly donated moneys to the red party.
Acting FNM Chairman for like 5 days Brensil Rolle yesterday said "he was unsure" whether the party had received money from environmental lobby group Save The Bays.
Mr Rolle referred the reporter to the party’s treasurer, Dwight Sawyer, for confirmation over the issue; however, Mr Sawyer "declined comment" and "deferred the question" to the party’s leader, Dr Hubert Minnis.
Comrades I bet you're thinking I wrote all these answers to reporters questions, all by me lonesome self?

shaboy 8 years, 3 months ago

STB chairman said no funds was donated to the fnm campaign

sheeprunner12 8 years, 3 months ago

Those that are able to buy shares (wealthy class) in these companies are happy to collect their shares ...... its economics ........ but how can a government majority-owned company that is in free fall reward mediocrity & cronyism by paying dividends???????? ............ it is disgraceful

asiseeit 8 years, 3 months ago

Disgraceful! These are public funds, your grandchildren will be paying for the devious and criminal abuse of our money. But erryone happy. so let's all walk off the cliff.

MonkeeDoo 8 years, 3 months ago

Why is the whole Cabinet not jailed for misfeasance and breach of Trust. NIB holds contributions "IN TRUST" for the people who have contributed to their pensions. How can the NIB executives not see that it is stealing, to use that money for anything but a rock solid investment. Even if the Minister of Finance told them to do it. That has never been an adequate defense. A lot of people need to be prosecuted and jailed over this shit. And the money that NIB "invests" is then "invested in bad loans" to the party faithful. This is beyond misfeasance. This is stealing by reason on employment.

birdiestrachan 8 years, 3 months ago

Dr: Minnis should do some discloseing himself.he should start with the FISh story. The Doctor talk so bad about the web shop owners. but low and behold he was haning a Kodax moment right in front of their plane after a trip to one of the family Islands,

truetruebahamian 8 years, 3 months ago

Birdiestrachan having a Kotex moment again?

Voltaire 8 years, 3 months ago

Tal - one way or the other, Save The Bays money is not the Bahamian people's money. BOB money is OUR money that they are giving to their relatives and buddies. The two things are not even on the same level.

TalRussell 8 years, 3 months ago

Comrade Voltaire obviously we greatly differ over this important point.

sheeprunner12 8 years, 3 months ago

Is Minnis accusing sitting MPs of having substantial BOB loans that are past due????

....... if that is the case, then those MPs should be in violation of their Constitutional standards ....... they can be deemed "bankrupt" if they are unable to pay their loans, mortgages etc.

We cannot have one standard for the small man and another standard for the national "leaders"

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