Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020
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PM promises probe in BPL saga

The government will launch an investigation into matters that unfolded over the past week between some former members of the Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) board and Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister, according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

“I have met this morning with the past BPL board members, had a very great meeting with them and I have informed them that in light of what has been transpiring, that the government will initiate a proper investigation into
the BPL saga and when we complete that investigation that will be made readily available,” said Minnis, following a tour of the Grand Lucayan resort and the Port Lucayan Marketplace in Grand Bahama.

After months of reported tension within the board and the resignation of three of its members, the government asked the remaining board members to hand in their resignations last week.

The former board was made up of Darnell Osborne, who was the executive chairman, Nick Dean, Nicola Thompson, Patrick Rollins, Ferron Bethel and Whitney Heastie, who is the CEO of BPL.

Bannister said that relationships among the board members had significantly deteriorated, and they had locked horns on almost every critical issue at great cost to the company, which ultimately necessitated new leadership.

However, in a joint statement on Sunday, Osborne, Thompson and Dean called Bannister’s claim “untrue, inaccurate and misleading” and said it was “political interference” and a “continuous disrespect” toward Osborne that were at the root of the former board’s dysfunction.

Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet on Tuesday, Bannister admitted that he interfered, but claimed it was after he learned BPL paid for the makeup bill and a home security system for Osborne.

The makeup bill, The Nassau Guardian was told by inside BPL sources, came as a result of billing for a BPL-related photo shoot that involved Osborne as well as other company officials.

The Guardian also learned that the board approved the purchase of security cameras for the chairperson while BPL was in sensitive contract negotiations

Bannister also claimed that Osborne wanted to be appointed BPL executive director — a position Rollins received — asked for a $300,000 salary and also often overstepped her boundaries trying to do the work of the CEO.

He said he had authorized Heastie to provide the media with the personal bills he claimed Osborne had submitted for BPL to pay.

However, despite numerous calls yesterday and Tuesday, Heastie could not be reached.

When asked yesterday whether those documents will still be made public, Bannister told The Nassau Guardian that the prime minister has ordered a truce, so the documents will no longer be released.

The new board, which was announced on Friday, includes Dr. Donovan Moxey, chairman; Stephen Holowesko, deputy chairman, and James Moss, Debra Wood, Bethel and Viana Gardiner as its remaining members.

Sloan Smith

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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