Gibson: Police investigation launched into WSC contract under PLP

Gibson: Police investigation launched into WSC contract under PLP
Long Island MP and WSC Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson

Corp. chairman also reveals civil suit in the pipeline

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A police investigation has been launched into matters related to the construction of the Gladstone Road Waste Water Treatment Plant, which ballooned under the Christie administration from $9.6 million to $18.3 million, WSC Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson advised Parliament yesterday.

He also indicated that a civil suit is expected to be pursued in early 2020 in relation to the matter, though he did not provide specifics.

He made the revelation during debate on an amended resolution for a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis as he sought to make the case that despite the many irregularities and controversial decisions under the Christie administration, there was never a vote of no confidence against the former prime minister or former Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, the now PLP leader.

Davis motioned for a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

“Mr. Speaker, the member for Cat Island also presided over the corporation,” Gibson said.

“At that time, this very board that this contractor (Paradigm Construction President Audley Hanna) sat on gave a contract for the construction of the Gladstone Road Wastewater Treatment Plant. Pursuant to board minutes, and I’ve heard the board minutes, that plant was intentionally taken out of a package of plants to be constructed under an IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) loan.

“They opted to get a loan from NIB (National Insurance Board) for that plant. Mr. Speaker, that plant was orginally slated to cost $9 million. It ended up costing $18 million and remains incomplete.

“That matter is with the police. That matter is with the police. A civil suit is also coming from that matter. There are many surprises to come in early 2020.”

A February 2018 WSC audit, conducted by Ernst and Young, highlighted the $9.6 million contract awarded to Nassau Island Development (NID) for the wastewater treatment plant off Gladstone Road for Baha Mar.

The contract was awarded in May 2013.

Four firms sent bids for the contract, ranging from the $31.3 million to $7.4 million, which NID bid.

The second lowest bid was $15.1 million, more than double NID’s low bid.

The projected skyrocketed from $9.6 million to $18.3 million, which the audit noted was an overrun of 91 percent.

The report pointed to evidence of NID removing equipment in late 2016 from the project site and selling it to a third party.

Then WSC General Manager Glen Laville wrote to the then Minister of Public Works Philip Brave Davis, advising him that the apparent reasoning by the contractor was the company needed to be their debts.

He said the items were specifically paid with money paid under the contract, and the contractor had in his opinion taken items paid for by the employer without the employees permission, to make payment for which it had already received remuneration — a “clear contractual breach and maybe even a further legal violation”.

The report also pointed to irregular payments to NID by the government and documented several emails from management and members of the board objecting to the payments.

In one instance, a $800,000 advance payment went ahead to NID despite the WSC management opposing the advanced payment.

Hanna, who Gibson claimed was a general for the PLP, was also given the contract for the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute male dorm that was destroyed by fire in January 2015, and was later revealed the building was never insured.