The prosecution’s star witness in the corruption case against former Cabinet minister Shane Gibson was back on the stand Thursday, this time under cross-examination by the defense intent on destroying his credibility in the eyes of the jury.
In his third day of testimony against Gibson, businessman Jonathan Ash revealed that he made a criminal complaint to police against Ken Dorsett, another official in the former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government, with a pending bribery trial.
Gibson is on trial for allegedly pocketing $280,000 in bribes from Ash from January 2017 to March 2017 to expedite payment for work he had done in connection with the clean-up work following Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.
According to Ash, some $200,000 of the alleged bribery money was given to government official Deborah Bastian for Gibson.
In response to a question from Gibson’s lead lawyer Keith Knight, QC, Ash said he first met Bastian in January 2017.
However, Knight questioned the truthfulness of this statement based on call logs between Ash and Bastian that were disclosed to the defense, but not exhibited by the prosecution.
Referring to those records, Knight suggested that Ash and Bastian communicated, either by call or text, 33 times from November 14, 2016 and December 24, 2016.
Knight asked, “Do you recall any of those contacts?”
Ash said he didn’t.
Knight pressed, “You never called her?”
Ash replied, “I never knew the lady until Jack Thompson sent me to her.”
Knight asked Ash the purpose of a meeting involving investigator ASP Deborah Thompson, himself, Bastian and their lawyers.
Ash replied, “Bastian was saying something totally different.”
Knight suggested, “ASP Thompson brought you all together to synchronize your statements.”
Ash said, “No, sir, I was prepared to speak the truth. Whatever Ms. Bastian was dealing with, that on her.”
Knight asked, “Did, Ms. Bowe, your lawyer, make any suggestion on how to deal with the differences?”
Ash said, “I told her what I say, that’s what it is.”
Knight asked, “You never changed anything?”
Knight grilled Ash about whether he gave police multiple statements.
Ash said, “When I went to police, I had two matters: one with Gibson and one with Ken Dorsett.”
He said his initial statement was a joint complaint against both men and police separated the information into distinct statements.
Knight also asked Ash if he had given Bastian $800 to $900 for lunch.
Ash agreed that he gave her money for lunch but did not confirm the figure.
Knight asked, “Why did you give her lunch money?”
Ash replied that he was “just being a blessing”.
He continued, “If someone helps me out, I’d just buy some lunch.”
Knight also questioned Ash about money that he had allegedly given to Mr. Rahmin, an engineer at the Ministry of Works.
Ash acknowledged giving Rahmin between $12,000 and $15,000 but said it wasn’t a bribe.
Ash testified, “Mr. Rahmin never put no demands to me.”
Knight said, “You gave Rahmin money.”
Ash replied, “I said that.”
Knight asked, “Why did you give it?”
Ash replied, “Just being a blessing; no pressure.”
Knight questioned Ash about his relationship with former Prime Minister Perry Christie.
Ash said that he did not know Christie well and had supported both the PLP and the Free National Movement (FNM).
Knight’s questioning for the day ended with Knight showing Ash a mounted photo of himself and a throng of PLP supporters with Christie at the PLP convention.
Ash’s testimony continues today.