Bahamas attorney general taking bribe claim seriously

AllysonMaynard-Gibson-1Nassau, Bahamas — Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson on Monday assured that she and her team are serious in their handling of the claim that a foreign company bribed a Bahamian official in relation to a lucrative Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) contract over a decade ago.

But Maynard-Gibson declined to say whether US authorities have turned over any information on the matter as yet.

“Serious allegations have been made and I want to make it very clear that the Office of the Attorney General is taking the matter seriously. It is receiving full and responsible attention from the Office of the Attorney General,” she said, adding that her office is committed to following the right process so as not to prejudice the matter.

The attorney general told The Nassau Guardian, “My top team leaders have advised me and continue to advise me and a request has been made to the US pursuant to our Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT).

“It’s not usual that we discuss the content of that request or the outcome of those requests, and so I would not wish to do so.

“I will say that I’m satisfied that my team will responsibly evaluate all information received and advise the attorney general, after which appropriate action will be taken.”

On December 22, the US Justice Department reported that French power company Alstom SA had 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.

Since then, many Bahamians have been waiting to learn more information on the matter, including the name of the alleged bribe taker.

In a communication in the House of Assembly on May 14, 2003, then Minister of Public Works Bradley Roberts said that in 2000, the board of directors of BEC selected the South Korean company Hanjung for a BEC contract.

The Ingraham Cabinet, however, rejected that recommendation and went with Alstom instead.

It is still unclear why.

Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has said the matter of the alleged bribery should be turned over to the police.

When she spoke to The Nassau Guardian on Monday, the attorney general did not say what the likely outcome of the matter will be, nor give a timeframe for information to be turned over.

“The process is ongoing,” she reiterated.

“In relation to MLAT process, the information is requested and it is usual for the information to be given.”

Maynard-Gibson said her office will get the information then analyze it, but she did not want to presuppose anything.

“I will receive the advice of my team and the appropriate action will be taken when all options have been considered,” she said.

“I want to reiterate that serious allegations have been made that impact the reputation of The Bahamas and all of us as right-thinking persons are concerned about these allegations.”

A high-ranking government source said the Christie administration wants to be careful not to botch the matter, which continues to receive widespread attention.

It is also being watched internationally.

Executives and government personnel in the US, the UK and Poland have already been charged in connection with the plea bargain signed by Alstom.

However, there is widespread skepticism locally about whether anyone will be charged in The Bahamas in relation to the alleged bribery.

Allegedly, Alstom paid the bribe taker more than $300,000.

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