Tuesday, Jul 14, 2020
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URCA under fire

Although a foreign human resources consultant claimed on her online professional page that she is still an executive vice president of Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC), the company said yesterday she left two years ago.

But CWC and Marsha Lewis–who is a consultant for the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA)–now conflict as to when she left.

However, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts said last night that even if Lewis left CWC in 2009, as the company says, the integrity of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) privatization process has been thrown into question.

After aNassau Guardianarticle yesterday provided details contained on Lewis’online professional profile (LinkedIn), CWC said Lewis left to form her own business. Lewis started the Barbados-based LCI Inc. in 2009.

While CWC said Lewis left in March 2009, her LinkedIn professional profile which was changed afterThe Nassau Guardianstory claims she left in December 2008.

Early yesterday, Lewis was still listing herself as a “current” CWC executive.

That all changed at some point during the day.

Lewis would be the second former CWC employee to have a key position with URCA. The other is its current CEO Usman Saadat, former CEO of CWC St. Lucia.

URCA–the communications industry regulator–is currently considering the sale of 51 percent of the shares in BTC to CWC.

“Let me say that LinkedIn is the same one I used for Saadat (in conducting a recent PLP probe in the matter) and that information, one is able to update that at ones will at any time,” Roberts said.

“So if she wanted to do so she (Lewis) should have done so. She didn’t do so…Besides that, why would he (Saadat) go to a former employee of Cable and Wireless to be consulting when he himself came from there, why?”

Roberts said Saadat should not be CEO of URCA.

“Mr. Saadat could not ever be by any stretch of anyone’s imagination independent and objective,” said the PLP chairman.

“It is my opinion that if any Bahamian goes to court on this matter the judges will rule that this man is not independent and should not be holding such a position.”

Before the Cable and Wireless statement that said Lewis had not updated her LinkedIn profile in two years, the issue was raised in a fiery manner on the floor of the House of Assembly.

Golden Gates MP Shane Gibson said, “I read this morning inThe Guardianwhere an employee of Cable and Wireless has on her website where she is a consultant of URCA. Now this is a human resources specialist who is an employee of Cable and Wireless and on her website, on her profile she is showing where she is a consultant to URCA.”

“Now bear in mind, Mr. Speaker, that this thing was carefully plotted out. Cable and Wireless has a former employee working in the MIS(management information systems) department at BTC. Cable and Wireless’former employee is in charge of URCA (Saadat).”

“Cable and Wireless’ current employee is also a consultant to URCA. You see the picture, Mr. Speaker? This thing was carefully crafted and carefully designed.

“This didn’t just start. Don’t mind them saying (it), Mr. Speaker. Everybody knows that Cable and Wireless did not just parachute into this position where they decided to purchase BTC. This was carefully planned out and mapped out where they put their people in strategic positions to make sure that at the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, they get what they want.”

Gibson added, “I wouldn’t be surprised if this was condoned by the Government of The Bahamas, because when you look at that contract that they signed with Cable and Wireless the Bahamian people would wonder who is it that the government is representing.”

But Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing denied that Cable and Wireless had received any advantage in the BTC privatization process.

“I’d like to make it abundantly clear that any suggestion on the part of the member for Golden Gates that the government coordinated, orchestrated for any employees of Cable and Wireless to work at URCA or anywhere else in pursuit of this privatization is false, inaccurate and absolute nonsense, absolute nonsense,” Laing said.

“URCA is an independent organization and has employed and engaged at its pleasure. I want to make that abundantly clear, Sir.”

Gibson put CWC on notice–as his leader Perry Christie did recently–that its deal will be reviewed should the Progressive Liberal Party be returned to office.

He pointed out that there are various measures that a PLP administration could take to make doing business extremely frustrating for CWC.

URCA has promised to issue a statement on the issue of its human resources consultant, but did not do so as of late last night.

Roberts said the whole affair “smells to high hell.”

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