NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Nearly nine months after authorities confirmed they were investigating the disappearance of a file on the controversial Oban Energies project that reportedly went missing from the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology (BEST) Commission, Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson said yesterday that probe was ongoing.
However, Ferguson was unable to provide any substantive details on the probe, including whether the file has been recovered; what it contains, or whether anyone or any entity was implicated in its disappearance.
“That matter is still being investigated,” Ferguson responded when prompted on the investigation, which police confirmed was launched last April.
“I am not in a position to give you any more details on it other than the fact that is still being investigated.”
Last April, Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle, who has responsibility for the Anti-Corruption Branch of the police force, said while police were making progress with the investigation, it would not be appropriate to discuss what was contained in the file at the time.
The file went missing during the height of the Oban saga.
The government signed a heads of agreement with Oban last February for a $5.5 billion oil refinery and storage facility project in East Grand Bahama.
It did so in the absence of an environmental impact assessment (EIA), which was just one of the controversial elements of the deal.
The government signed the agreement with Oban on February 10, but the public was not notified at the time.
It held a “ceremonial signing” on February 19 with then Oban Energies Non-Executive Chairman Peter Krieger.
There was also widespread public outcry over a clause in the agreement that prevented the government from scrapping the deal based on anything in the EIA.
The agreement stated that the government must work with Oban to address any concerns raised in the environmental study.
Last March, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis admitted his administration made missteps with the deal in its haste to boost Grand Bahama’s economy.
While the document has yet to be made public, Oban Energies Managing Director of Operations Alexander Grikitis confirmed last month that the company completed the EIA.
BEST, which was transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister months after the general election, is responsible for the review of EIAs for development projects in The Bahamas.
The government has pledged to strike a better deal and appointed its lead negotiation team last month.
Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes, who chairs the Cabinet sub-committee and technical advisory group charged with examining the deal, revealed outside Cabinet yesterday attorney Loren Klein, the consultant counsel in the Office of the Attorney General, that will lead the negotiation team with another five other members.