NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest yesterday dismissed allegations of a conspiracy involving government officials and the theft of multibillion-dollar inheritance from the estate of Bahamian Derek Rolle, as nothing more than a “patently absurd tale” that has spanned decades without substantiation.
He said while the “unfounded allegations” died down over the years, the claim has re-emerged into mini-viral phenomena on social media, with varying versions of the claims.
Unsubstantiated reports suggest Rolle inherited as much as $79 billion from a deceased American couple.
Turnquest said the formal response of the government was prompted by Centreville MP Reece Chipman, who has repeatedly called for a select committee of Parliament to probe all matters related to Rolle.
Chipman said it was in the national interest to investigate and determine all facts related to the matter.
Labelling the claims as a “fanciful tale”, Turnquest said there have even been suggestions that the government recently passed the Dormant Accounts Bill to abscond with the inheritance. Turnquest said if true, it would be the largest theft of money ever recorded.
The minister said while the government is unable to speak for private entities, the Ministry of Finance contacted the commercial bank named, and the bank similarly indicated that it has no knowledge or possession of any funds related to Rolle.
He said the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of The Bahamas nor any other government entity were aware of the alleged inheritance.
“Neither the ministry nor the Central Bank nor the named commercial bank elected to respond formally to this patently absurd tale, simply because it was and is a patently absurd tale,” Turnquest told parliamentarians.
“However, given that the matter had been raised by a member of this House, the government feels that it is important to state its position formally on the record.”
Turnquest added that the government is not aware of any legal action that has commenced in The Bahamas or any other jurisdiction relating to what has been alleged.
“The government continues to hear any number of wild accusations being levied at government agencies and even at specific individuals,” Turnquest advised Parliament.
“The government cautions all those who choose to slander the names of individuals with unsubstantiated claims to cease forthwith.
“Simply put, it is time to put up or shut up.
“Until such time that someone is able to present credible evidence to substantiate any element of this story, the government shall not comment further on the matter and shall consider the matter closed.”
However, Turnquest said he wished to make clear that if Rolle’s estate or anyone else has information and material evidence to support the claims of any inheritance or other funds that is owed to the estate, it should “avail itself of all available channels, both in The Bahamas and abroad, to ensure that matter is resolved”.
He said given the sum of funds alleged to have been stolen, it would be sufficient incentive for the matter to have been advanced and investigated over the last two decades.
“There would be literally thousands of lawyers from across the world who would fly to The Bahamas — or other relevant jurisdictions — today to commence action if $79 billion was on the line,” Turnquest contended.
Following the intervention, Chipman thanked Turnquest, but maintained that he wished for a select committee of the House to probe the matter.
“…I’m glad to know the government would have down [its] investigation and would have come with some form of conclusion to avoid the anxiety of a country that of course does not believe in the politics of today,” Chipman said.
“So, I just wanted to say that is what good governments do; they conclude, they make a statement and they ask for any other evidence that may be out there that can help them come to a conclusion.”