Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday denied knowing that Oban Energies Non-Executive Chairman Peter Krieger was accused of violating the federal securities laws in the United States.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis insisted on Wednesday that the Christie administration had found no fault with the company and its officials when it was considering Oban’s $5.5 billion oil refinery project for Grand Bahama.
The government signed a heads of agreement with the company on Monday, but the deal is being heavily scrutinized, and Krieger’s past dealings have come to light.
Davis, who served as deputy prime minister and minister of works in the Christie administration, said Minnis should take responsibility for his decisions.
“The time has come for Mr. Minnis, the prime minister of this country, to take responsibility for his governance and the nuances that inform the decision making process of his government,” he said.
“The time has come for him to stop pointing fingers at the previous administration.”
He added, “I take umbrage to him continually pointing [to us].
“Take responsibility for [your] decisions. Take responsibility and move this country on. The time for campaigning and finger pointing has ended.”
On Wednesday, Minnis said he was aware of Krieger’s past when the government signed the agreement with Oban.
“The Bahamas Investment Authority stated that the investigations are done and the gentleman admitted to certain revelations,” Minnis said.
“The former government did not have any concern about these issues. He has explained himself.”
Under the Christie administration, Oban had Bahamas Investment Authority approval.
In a December 1, 2016 letter, Carol U. Young, writing for the director of investments, advised Oban through its then attorney Obi Pindling that the National Economic Council (NEC) approved Oban Energies to construct a 20-million barrel capacity oil refinery on land adjacent to the Statoil facility on Grand Bahama, subject to meeting the requirements of Ministry of Works, Ministry of the Environment, Department of Physical Planning, Department of Lands and Surveys, Department of Inland Revenue and all other relevant government agencies.
The NEC also agreed to recommend the issuance of a reasonable number of work permits by the immigration ministry for project construction and operation, subject to the requirements of the labor ministry.
But the project never advanced to the point where the Christie administration signed any deal.
Krieger signed the heads of agreement with the government on Monday, but he claimed on Tuesday he has no ownership in Oban and is more of an ambassador.
In 2005, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the U.S. filed a civil complaint against Peter Krieger, his father, Sheldon Krieger, and John Madey.
According to the complaint, Krieger, his father and Madey, the principals of KFSI Equity Fund, were accused of “violating the federal securities laws”.
The complaint alleged that from June 1999 to December 2000, KFSI “misappropriated more than $3.7 million of investor funds”.
Asked if he was aware of this incident or any others involving the leadership of Oban, Davis said, “None of that was made known to us.”
Asked if he had any concerns with Oban and Krieger, Davis said, “I am of the view that once a person has been punished for their wrongdoing, they ought not to be punished more than once.
“So if he was punished for his wrongdoing, the question is whether or not he has rehabilitated himself and so reordered his life that you could have confidence that he would not fall down again.
“Those would be matters that the government would be, as part of their due diligence, looking into.
“My concern would be whether or not before signing the heads of agreement that those factors would be looked into and those factors met their satisfaction.
“It would appear that if the prime minister went that far he may have satisfied himself. Whether we would have been satisfied would have been another matter.”
In 2006, Krieger pled guilty to the first degree felony of one count of organized fraud in obtaining property valued at more than $50,000, according to the SEC.
“He was sentenced to seven years of probation during which he may not be associated with or be a broker-dealer or investment adviser, and to joint payment with Sheldon Krieger of $1,292,129 in restitution and fines, and payment of $7,373 in costs”.
Davis said yesterday that while the former administration approved the deal in principle, it was left in the hands of the technocrats.
“I don’t know whether anything moved further than that because once the approval had been given by the political directorate, the process would then be taken up by the technocrats in the various government agencies to move it forward, which would include due diligence in all the parties that would have been involved,” he said.
“We all applauded the project but wished the project to come to fruition, and we hesitated for the purposes of being satisfied that the parties would have been able to fulfill the obligations to seeing the project to fruition.”
Davis said the opposition supports the project and hopes that it succeeds.
“So the project, yes we would support the project,” he said.
“…I feel Grand Bahama needs something. I would hope that the government would ensure that we are not being hoodwinked or bamboozled in entering into arrangements that raise the expectations of our people only to have them dashed at the end of the day.”
Education: College of The Bahamas, English