Former Cabinet minister calls for DPM to resign over fraud allegations

Former Cabinet minister calls for DPM to resign over fraud allegations
Damian Gomez, QC

QC says accusations have public implications for The Bahamas

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Former State Minister for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez, QC, has called for Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest to resign over allegations of his involvement in a $30 million “bogus loan” scheme.

Turnquest and Sky Bahamas Principal Captain Randy Butler were accused of defrauding a company in a writ of summons that was filed by the law firm Scott & Co on November 16.

Gomez said the allegations should prompt law enforcement agencies to investigate the veracity of the claims and uphold the rule of law.

The QC argued the public interest is “superior to and greater than any personal interest of individual members of Cabinet” regardless of Turnquest’s innocence or guilt.

“The opposition has properly requested a public response from the government. Days have passed in deafening silence,” Gomez said.

“Surely, the government should at the very least make a public assurance that its relevant agencies have become engaged and that they are each performing their legal duties, including contacting the US Justice Department to ascertain what accounting evidence it or any other government department (such as the IRS) might have to assist our local functionaries in their investigation and making a similar request of the principal of the companies that have made these most serious allegations.”

He said: “This is not a matter that can be compromised, and the public has every right to expect the investigation to be transparent and fair to both the accused and the accusers.”

The writ lists Alpha Aviation Ltd and Advanced Aviation Ltd as the first and second plaintiffs, with Butler, Sky Bahamas Airlines Limited and Aviation Oversight Group Ltd listed as defendants.

Turnquest is not listed as a defendant in the matter; however, 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.

Both men have denied the claims.

Gomez insisted Turnquest’s resignation would be in accordance with the conventions of the Westminster system of government, and noted the prime minister is obliged to dismiss him in the public interest.

“By now, these steps ought to have been completed,” Gomez said.

“Our standing as a country demands no less from its political leadership and those charged with the duty to uphold the rule of law without fear or favor nor regard to the station of those alleged to be guilty of very serious criminal matters impacting our standing in the financial services global environment.”

Pointing to relationships with global financial institutions, Gomez further said the country’s national and international standing is not a “political football”.

“Our national reputation demands of our government that every step be taken to preserve it!” he added.

“For these reasons, the honorable deputy prime minister ought to resign or be fired on the premise that our national interest is superior to and greater than any personal interest of individual members of Cabinet.”

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