PM: Intl. recovery donations “extremely transparent”

PM: Intl. recovery donations “extremely transparent”
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis speaks to Bahamian media during a tour of a sustainable housing community in Barbados on Wednesday. (OPM Communications)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday stressed the government has been “extremely transparent” with international donations to aid Hurricane Dorian recovery.

He was asked to comment on the ongoing legal dispute between HeadKnowles co-founders Gina Knowles and Lia Head-Rigby over the misappropriation of some $1.5 million in storm donations.

“The Bahamas has been extremely transparent,” Minnis said at Lynden Pindling International Airport’s diplomatic lounge.

“We have involved the international organizations.

“We have involved UNDP, so we are very open in terms of transparency.

“The money that we would have collected, we’ve reported to you. I have said repeatedly that the minister with responsibility will make a report to Parliament very often, so you will be often on what monies the government itself may have received and how that money is being spent. We will be very, very transparent.”

HeadKnowles Co-Founder Gina Knowles has taken legal action against former co-founder Lia Head-Rigby and her husband, accusing them of taking funds raised on crowdsourcing site GoFundMe.com for Hurricane Dorian recovery for personal

The lawsuit filed in Florida on Monday concerns $400,000.

HeadKnowles is named as the plaintiff.

The group became instrumental in getting hurricane relief supplies to islands impacted Hurricane Joaquin in September 2015, and has since responded to other natural disasters and recovery events such as Hurricane Matthew in October 2015, Hurricane Irma in September 2017 and even the search and recovery effort of missing pilot Byron Ferguson in November 2018.

Court documents alleged Head-Rigby was living the life of the “rich and famous” at the expense of storm victims, whom she committed to assist.

It was also alleged that Head-Rigby used invalid Bahamian documents to launch the GoFundMe campaign, which raised approximately $1.5 million before it was closed following Knowles and Head-Rigby’s split.

Head-Rigby was also accused of paying herself $120,000 per year from funds raised following the storm — a claim she has denied.

Donations continued to flow in even after the pair announced the split.

In a statement announcing her departure, Head, who was listed on GoFundMe as the campaign’s organizer, said the funds collected through the account had been turned over to the local branch of HeadKnowles, headed by co-founder Gina Knowles.