Answers on Bahamas power contract bribe imminent, says attorney general

AllysonMaynard-Gibson-1Nassau, Bahamas — More than three months after the Bahamas government requested information from the US government over a report that a Bahamian official accepted $325,000 in bribes to swing Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) contracts to a French company over a decade ago, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson indicated on Wednesday that the answers are “imminent”.

On December 22, the US Department of Justice reported that Alstom SA agreed to pay $772 million to resolve allegations that it bribed high-ranking foreign government officials for lucrative projects.

Federal prosecutors said Alstom falsified its records and paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes for help in obtaining more than $4 billion in projects in countries including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and The Bahamas.

“I think that we probably will shortly be able to say something,” said Maynard-Gibson when asked for an update on the matter on Wednesday.

“I just want to emphasize that we have been meticulous about the process.

“I think that is something that the Bahamian people expect of us so that whatever steps, if they are ready to be taken, will be done so in accordance to the law and there will be clear assurance that all proper steps to respect the process have been taken.

“I expect that imminently we will be able to say something.”

Maynard-Gibson previously said The Bahamas has requested information from the United States regarding the allegations, including the identity of the alleged bribe taker.

As part of the plea agreement, Alstom detailed its corrupt practices.

Many Bahamians are waiting to see if the inquiry leads to prosecution.

Opposition leader Dr Hubert Minnis said if the Christie administration fails to act over the alleged bribery, it would be just as guilty as the bribe taker.

Former BEC chairman Barrie Farrington has described the bribe taker as a “traitor” who must be revealed and “made to pay a price for this unforgiveable transgression”.

After the matter became public, Farrington called on Prime Minister Perry Christie to appoint a non-partisan commission to investigate and to make recommendations on how to bring conclusion to “this unwanted stain on the country’s reputation”.

Former prime minister Hubert Ingraham has said the matter should be turned over to the police.

In January, Christie said the bribe claim is a “very serious matter” and assured that the government will deal with it accordingly.

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