DPM and Sky Bahamas chief slam $30 mil fraud claims as “categorically false”

DPM and Sky Bahamas chief slam $30 mil fraud claims as “categorically false”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest (left) and Sky Bahamas Principal Captain Randy Butler

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest and Sky Bahamas Principal Captain Randy Butler yesterday denied allegations of their involvement in a $30 million “bogus loan” scheme, slamming the claims as “categorically false”.

Turnquest and Butler have been accused of defrauding a company of some $30 million via “bogus loans”, court documents obtained by Eyewitness News have revealed.

Turnquest in a statement last night slammed the claims as “categorically false”.

“I have been made aware of a writ filed in the Supreme Court, Commercial Division on November 16, 2020 involving two former business associates,” Turnquest said in a statement.

“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,” said Turnquest.

“I am confident that the facts will defend my integrity once presented,” he continued.

“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.”

For his part, Butler told Eyewitness News, that he intended to defend himself against the accusations.

“I can say from my side, I categorically deny those claims and I am going to defend myself against them,” he said.

“I was on the operations side dealing with a lot of stuff. I don’t know the details to say yay or nay other than the fact that I did not take any funds.”

Sky Bahamas was grounded last July after being denied an air operator’s certificate. The airline was evicted from its head office a month later. At the time, Butler told Eyewitness News the airline’s losses were over $24 million.

A writ filed by the law firm Scott & Co on November 16 lists Alpha Aviation Ltd and Advanced Aviation Ltd as the first and second plaintiffs.

Butler, Sky Bahamas Airlines Limited and Aviation Oversight Group Ltd are listed as defendants.

While Turnquest is not listed as a defendant in the matter, the court documents allege that he was a director and manager of Alpha Aviation Ltd and Advanced Aviation Ltd, while Sky Bahamas and Aviation Oversight were at all material times, owned, controlled and/or managed by Butler.

It is alleged that between 2008 and 2017, Butler, Turnquest and the Aviation Oversight Group conspired to defraud the plaintiffs and conceal such fraud and the proceeds thereof.

It is further alleged that at the end of December 2017, the defendants had caused Alpha to pay $20,680,337.33 to Sky Bahamas in each case by way of “some kind of bogus loan”.

Court documents allege that at the end of December 2017, the defendants had caused Advanced Aviation to pay via wire transfers $5,916,587.67 to Sky Bahamas.

It is further alleged that as of December 2017, the defendants had caused Alpha to pay $3,026,000 to themselves via a company controlled by AOG Maintenance Ltd.

The plaintiffs also claim that between February 2008 and July 2016, the defendants caused Alpha by some 36 fraudulent invoices and book entries to pay away to Aviation Oversight 37 cheques and to Sky Bahamas two cheques totaling $3,800,000.

The plaintiffs claim that Turnquest and Butler breached their fiduciary duties by failing to keep proper financial records, keep proper management accounts or ensure that adequate financial controls or systems were in place.

The plaintiffs also assert that Butler knew or must have known that monies were being paid away by Turnquest in breach of his fiduciary duties and dishonestly received by Sky Bahamas and Aviation oversight.