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Former BPL board clashed over turbochargers

Former Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) board member Nick Dean alleged in a Supreme Court statement of claim that a $4 million request for turbochargers submitted by BPL CEO Whitney Heastie was denied by the board because it had several discrepancies and did not comply with BPL’s procurement policy. 

Dean, who served as chairman of the procurement committee of the board, outlined his recollection of the series of events that eventually led to his termination, insisting that he and former BPL Executive Chairman Darnell Osborne and former BPL board member Nicola Thompson, were wrongfully removed by Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister.

Among those issues was the procurement of turbochargers after one of BPL’s engines at Clifton Pier Power Station failed in May of last year. 

According to Dean’s writ, he was provided with a memo from Heastie in July requesting funding for the purchase and replacement of two turbochargers and was asked to decide on the proposal within six days and by July 31.

The statement of claim notes that the request was supported by a single proposal from a company Heastie had already had a previous relationship with.

“The proposal that director Heastie provided to [Dean] to support the request for $4 million was deficient in that there was a discrepancy in that the items constituting the proposal amounted to $2,800,0000, whereas director Heastie had requested $4 million,” it said.

“The pricing contained in the proposal was incomplete in that it was for turbochargers only and did not include other costs such as insurance, freight and installation which would have left BPL open to a risk of large unknown costs after committing to an initial purchase.”

The writ further notes that there was no technical opinion from senior BPL technical staff to support the purchase of the turbochargers, and there was a viable alternative that the engines could be repaired for $600,000 by replacing the damaged casings instead of purchasing the turbochargers.

Additionally, according to the document, several requests were made for Heastie to provide a more robust technical justification for the turbochargers, competing bids for compliance with BPL’s procurement policy, or a statement confirming that it was not possible to have competing bids for the replacement of the turbochargers.

“[Dean] also asked director Heastie to provide a breakdown of all costs associated with the purchase, a cost analysis for competing options and for an opinion from the senior technical staff of BPL to accompany the proposal and request for funding so that the procurement committee and the board of BPL could make an informed decision on the proposal to purchase the turbochargers,” the statement of claim read.

“In spite of the request of [Dean], director Heastie failed, neglected or refused to provide [Dean] with the requested information.”

Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday that a private firm has been retained to represent the defendants. However, no response has been filed to date. 

After the removal of Dean, Osborne, and Thompson in August last year, 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.

He alluded to this very same turbochargers matter as one instance of the board being locked.

The trio is suing for a specific total of $1,164,933.33 in special damages and unspecified exemplary damages.

They are also seeking an injunction to gag Bannister from further commenting on anything to do with them in regard to these matters in the public domain.

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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