Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Senator Fred Mitchell raised in the Senate yesterday the matter of a recently filed writ in which Deputy Prime Minister K. Peter Turnquest is accused of involvement in a scheme in which two companies were allegedly defrauded of over $20 million.
But in a statement last night, Turnquest denied the “false claims” made against him, saying he was “appalled” over the matter and noted that he has not been named as a defendant in the case, although allegations were made against him.
In the statement of claim, the two companies — Alpha Aviation Limited and Advanced Aviation Limited — allege that Randy Butler, Sky Bahamas Airlines Limited and Aviation Oversight Group Ltd. together with Turnquest conspired “wrongfully and with intent to injure” those companies and/or “to cause loss to them by unlawful means and/or to enrich themselves…”
The court document alleges that these fraudulent acts occurred between 2008 and 2017.
Butler, Sky Bahamas and Aviation Oversight are named as the defendants.
The court document states that Sky Bahamas and Aviation Oversight were “at all material times” companies owned and/or controlled and/or managed by Butler and Turnquest.
Alpha and Advanced (the plaintiffs) allege that as at December 31, 2017, Turnquest and the other “conspirators” dishonestly caused Alpha to pay away a total of $20,680,337.33 to Sky Bahamas, as in each case, some kind of bogus loan.
Alpha Aviation and Advanced Aviation are both incorporated in The Bahamas, but Advanced was subsequently redomiciled to the Cayman Islands.
Turnquest was a director and manager of those companies, according to the statement of claim.
The companies allege that as at December 31, 2017, the conspirators had dishonestly caused Advanced Aviation to pay away via wire transfers a total of $5,916,587.67 to Sky Bahamas, also as some kind of bogus loan(s).
Additionally, the statement of claim alleges that as at December 31, 2017 the conspirators dishonestly caused Alpha to pay away a total of $3,026,000 to themselves via a company then controlled and/or managed by them, namely AOG Maintenance Limited.
It is also alleged that around February 2008 and July 2016, the conspirators dishonestly caused Alpha, by means of some 39 fraudulent invoices and/or book entries, and for no adequate consideration, to pay away to Aviation Oversight (37 checks) and to Sky Bahamas (two checks) the sum of US$3,800,000.
“In breach of their duties of honesty and fidelity as directors and/or managers” of Alpha and Advanced, and of Sky Bahamas and Aviation Oversight, and their duties to act in the best interests of the companies, Turnquest and Butler “failed to keep or to ensure that the companies kept any, or any adequate, financial books of account or financial records recording and/or documenting the companies’ financial transactions; failed to maintain or keep any or any proper management accounts or bank or check or wire transfer reconciliations and failed to put in place any or any adequate financial control or systems”, the statement of claim further alleges.
It also alleges, “None of the payments to Sky Bahamas or to Aviation Oversight from either Alpha or Advanced were documented properly, or at all, or were due and owing by the plaintiffs, or either of them, in any amounts, or at all.”
The document states, “At all material times, Butler knew or must be taken to have known that the receipt by Sky Bahamas and Aviation Oversight from Alpha and Advanced were paid away by Turnquest in breach of his fiduciary duties and dishonestly and were received by Sky Bahamas and Aviation Oversight as money had and received by those companies on behalf of Alpha and Advanced and held by them on resulting trust for the plaintiffs.”
Alpha and Advanced are seeking an order that each defendant compensate them in equity.
They are also seeking an account of all sums they allege were misappropriated by the defendants and an order for payment of all sums found due upon the taking of such an account.
The action was filed by Scott & Co.
In the Senate yesterday, Mitchell said the opposition wants to know whether the government plans to make a formal statement with regard to this matter in the public interest.
In his statement last night, the deputy prime minister said, “I have been made aware of a writ filed in the Supreme Court, Commercial Division on November 16, 2020 involving two former business associates.
“The writ does not name me as a defendant but makes several allegations in its statement of claim that are categorically false.
“I deny these false claims. I am appalled that my standing as a public servant made calling my name in this dispute between my former business partners worthwhile.
“There is no room for that kind of misuse of our judicial system in our society. I am confident that the facts will defend my integrity once presented.
“My record of transparency and accountability in my private and public life is a matter of record and reputation. My focus remains on further deepening our democracy by enacting legislation to reform and modernize the management of our economy and public finances as we work through this very challenging period in our country.”
Butler spoke to The Nassau Guardian last night, saying “at best this is a business deal that has gone awry”.
He said, “I categorically deny all of those claims. I was the technical person at Sky Bahamas that dealt with regulatory technical matters. I am not an accountant. I did not work for Alpha and Advanced. So I didn’t have access to their accounts. I learnt more in this statement of claim and other documents of who the players are and what seemed to have been some of their goals.”
Butler said he is concerned about the allegations because this matter involves his reputation.
He said he will fully defend himself against the “false” claims.