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New BPL chair won’t rule out own company

Despite the former board of Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) being recently dismissed in a wave of controversy, including a fight over alleged make up costs and security cameras for its former chairman, newly-appointed BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey said yesterday that he sees nothing wrong with the board of BPL potentially awarding his software company a contract if he recuses himself from the decision.

This, after emails obtained by The Guardian show that Moxey repeatedly petitioned the former board to use the app he created, MobileAssist, to be used for bill payment and communications by BPL.

Moxey’s software company, CBI Mobile, made a pitch to BPL last year, he said, to persuade the power company to use its payment app.

The new chairman said he never reached a deal with BPL and stressed that there is no deal in place.

However, he noted that he has a “fiduciary responsibility” to CBI’s shareholders and wouldn’t have a problem with the platform being used by BPL if any engagement process follows established policies.

Moxey also would not rule out the possibility of BPL using his company’s application.

The new BPL board held a press conference yesterday afternoon following an orientation where the board held high level talks with various BPL officials.

Moxey’s view was that there would be nothing wrong with his involvement in both companies as long as he recused himself from BPL’s potential decision to engage that company.

His view is shared by at least one other board member – Deputy Chairman Stephen Holowesko.

Documents reveal that Moxey actively lobbied BPL’s former board to engage his company as recently as late last year.

He also apparently lobbied the former Christie administration for BPL to use the app.

Moxey wrote several emails to the former BPL board late last year pitching his app and seeking approval for its use.

The emails, obtained by The Nassau Guardian, show that Moxey first reached out to the board last September following Hurricane Irma.

In a correspondence to the board dated September 12, 2017, Moxey wrote, “I am contacting you because we want to work to formalize a business relationship between CBI Mobile and BPL specific to our mobile application platform MobileAssist, and the services we can provide with respect to mobile communications and bill payment transactions via our proprietary app.

“We began formal discussions with BPL’s executive team (CEO, VP customer service, IT, financial controller) in February of this year, and have worked with BPL’s IT team to facilitate electronic bill payments in the MobileAssist app, that also includes the electronic transfer transaction information directly to BPL’s internal systems.

“This project was put on hold just prior to this year’s general election, and now we want to resume our discussions with the intention of formalizing a mutually beneficial business relationship with BPL.”

In a November 2, 2017 email, Moxey wrote to the board again: “Thanks again to… the BPL board of directors for meeting with me and [business partner] Phil [Simon] yesterday to discuss how we can best work together with BPL with respect to your use of our MobileAssist mobile app platform.

“We certainly believe there is a significant opportunity to work with BPL with respect to a number of functions inclusive of bill payment, customer account services, geo-fencing push & graphic notifications, as well as customer service calls tracking and management.

“We look forward to working with your IT team with respect to completing the integration and testing with your new billing system, and provide your customers with value-added services within our MobileAssist platform.

 “Feel free to contact me at any time should you have additional questions. We look forward to executing the next steps in a mutually beneficial relationship.”

The new board is made of up of Moxey, Holowesko, James Moss, Debra Wood, Ferron Bethel and Viana Gardiner.

When asked if his company would still seek the contract, Moxey said, “My perspective is this, and this is for all members of the board, wherever there is a potential or an existing conflict of interest the procedure right now within the board is that you declare that.

“In cases where you must recuse yourself, if there are decisions to be made, you do that as such.”

He continued, “Now if there is ever an opportunity, obviously I have to go to my board of my software company to make a decision as to whether or not it makes sense for us to engage BPL as a customer.

“If that is the case, then I will follow the normal procedures as part of BPL as any board member would so that we don’t violate any of the norms when it comes to good corporate governance.”

When asked why he would not simply remove his company from any consideration, Moxey said, “If you turn around and you do that, again, I have a fiduciary responsibility to my shareholders as well.

“If everyone does that then how do you gain opportunity as a private company? It’s one of those things where it’s not an issue unless somebody makes it an issue.

“There are normal corporate governance practices that everyone follows and I have no problem following those corporate government practices.”

Asked about the optics of the issue, he said, “Sometimes the optics aren’t necessarily correct. They are perceived. It’s the perception, not the reality.

“It’s one of those things where you cannot make decisions all the time on perceptions.

“The reality is the reality.”

When asked why he would not put the issue to bed, Moxey replied, “I can’t make that decision by myself.”

Holowesko, the board’s deputy chair, interjected.

“He shouldn’t have to put aside a company that he’s been working on for the hypothetical possibility that there is some contract with BPL down the road,” Holowesko said.

“His company should be able to proceed regardless as to whether or not he is volunteering his time for BPL. If it comes to BPL then he can recuse himself.”

Moxey agreed.

“Exactly,” Moxey said.

“Why should I do that? I can’t speak for my entire board or shareholders. I won’t do that.”

Moxey, who has a background in business development, electrical engineering, information technology and strategic planning, is the president and co-founder of Work Experience CBI Mobile, a software development company.

 

Assistant Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018.
Education: College of The Bahamas, English
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