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By ADRIAN GIBSON

[email protected]

WHENEVER I read, apprehend or watch a annual adventure breadth above Progressive Liberal Party Cabinet abbot and Exuma MP George Smith is an uncompromising purveyor of political ethics, I consistently acquire flashbacks to 1984.

That was the year of the address of the Commission of Inquiry appointed to attending into the actionable use of the Bahamas for the transhipment of alarming drugs destined for the United States and of the accusatory utterances of commissioners about to Mr Smith and their cessation that he “corruptly accustomed funds from accustomed biologic smugglers”.

Interestingly, in a adventure in The Tribune aftermost week, Mr Smith was compassionate adjoin the affairs surrounding Accompaniment Abbot for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez’s abandonment from Cabinet, but fatigued that politicians should not be motivated by money. It was appear that anniversary that Mr Gomez had tendered his abandonment from Cabinet due to banking reasons.

According to that report, Mr Smith insisted that the bacon of a abbot was not advised to supplement clandestine assets but to serve Bahamians who charge representation in the Abode of Assembly.

Mr Smith reportedly said: “However I will say that backroom is a service. If you are motivated by how abundant money you are activity to get out of it you absolutely shouldn’t go into it. Indeed, aback in my time the baby salaries were for the adherent people. It was an adumbration of the akin of annual to the Bahamian people. It’s simple, we’ve aloof got to stop talking about the salaries of politicians … The Abode of Assembly bacon is paid to you so you can use it to annual the people. It is not advised to supplement your clandestine income.”

As a apprentice of history, I begin Mr Smith’s annual amusing and anticipation that this is yet accession archetype of breadth it is absurd to acquire to the bulletin aback we may not acquire the best ill-fitted messenger. Considering the Commission’s report, I do not apperceive if Mr Smith sees the irony in him authoritative such statements. I acquire that Bahamians care to be reminded of some of the above affairs in our nation’s history – and one such is the Commission of Inquiry 31 years ago.

In 1984, the year I was born, George Smith was confined in the Pindling Cabinet as the Abbot of Agriculture, Fisheries and Bounded Government. In the accession to their affiliate on Mr Smith, the Commissioners wrote:

“Evidence was heard apropos two accessible areas of bribery on the allotment of Mr Smith. The aboriginal bulk anxious the acquirement of a BMW car in the Minister’s name by the Lehder organisation and the consecutive acquirement of a agnate BMW car by the Abbot himself. The additional breadth of affair resulted from the affirmation of Edward Ward, a biologic smuggler, to the aftereffect that he paid the Abbot $100,000 through Mr Everette Bannister for the purpose of accepting the names of Ward and his wife removed from the Immigration ‘Stop List’.”

According to the report, Norman’s Cay – which was in the constituency of Mr Smith and the abject of belled biologic smuggler Carlos Lehder – was “visited on abundant occasions” by Mr Smith, who declared that he visited the Cay “primarily in his accommodation as the bounded MP for the area”.

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According to the Commissioner’s report: “(Mr Smith) declared that ancient during 1978, while at a amusing function, he was approached by Mr Ian Davidson, the administrator of the Guardian Assurance Company Ltd, who said he represented a affluent applicant who had acquired sections of Norman’s Cay for the purpose of developing a resort complex. The Abbot was arrive by Davidson to accommodated his applicant and, subsequently, a bologna was abiding breadth the Abbot met Carlos Lehder. Mr Smith said that he was favourably afflicted by Lehder and his affairs to beforehand Norman’s Cay and he accustomed Lehder’s allurement to appointment the Cay. A few weeks later, the appointment was abiding and the Abbot remained there overnight.”

What’s more, admitting he could alone anamnesis affair Mr Lehder on two added occasions, one attestant – who gave affirmation in camera – told the Commission that he had witnessed Mr Smith actuality alien amid Norman’s Cay and Highbourne Cay on April 8, 1979, on a helicopter that he was accustomed with and “associated it with Carlos Lehder”.

According to the Commission’s report, aback Mr Smith aboriginal appeared afore it on December, 9, 1983, he “made no acknowledgment of a BMW car that had been delivered to him as a allowance from the Lehder organisation and which had been alternate to the donor”.

“Evidence was alien advertence that this car was purchased from Vista Motor Co, of 700 North Federal Highway, Pompano Beach, Florida on 20th April, 1979. The client was apparent on the retail buyer’s adjustment as ‘Carlos Hoyos – George Smith.’ It was declared as a 1979 BMW sedan, blazon 733ia, identification cardinal IB 5786626, cashmere colour. Banknote cancellation cardinal 3659 for $26,000 was issued in favour of George Smith. The agent was alien to Nassau by Inter-Marketing Cargo Service, Miami, Florida. The exporter and the ultimate beneficiary were apparent as consignor and beneficiary …” the address states.

According to the Commissioner’s report, the agent was austere through community by the backward Roland Cartwright on the instructions of Ian Davidson, who told Mr Cartwright to authorization and assure the BMW in the name ‘George A Smith.’ The assignment on the agent was adjourned at $13,500 and was paid by Davidson. Already cleared, the Commission was told by Idris Reid, the Permanent Secretary of Mr Smith’s ministry, that an American Caucasian by the name of Chuck had anchored the car on West Bay Street and larboard him with the keys for Mr Smith.

Mr Reid told the Commissioners that aback Mr Smith alternate to his appointment afterwards that day, he purportedly bidding abruptness and took the keys into his possession. However, Mr Reid testified that either the above day or the abutting day, afterwards some consideration, Mr Smith alternate the car keys to him and instructed him to accord the keys aback to the actuality who had brought them.

Of course, somehow the actuality who delivered the keys was somehow begin (though they were alone accustomed as Chuck) and Mr Cartwright, the community broker, testified that he was instructed by Mr Davidson to address the BMW aback to the States. The BMW eventually assured up in Colombia, breadth it was boarded to Giullermo Lehder.

Mr Smith, in a additional actualization afore the Commission on June 20, 1984, told the Commissioners that he “understood accession was alms him a car and that it came from Norman’s Cay”.

They said: “He did not accede that in all anticipation it was a allowance from Lehder. The Abbot declared that he did not allocution to anyone afore abiding the keys and he did so because he anticipation it was the able affair to do. He claimed that it did not activity to him anon that the agent was offered as a allurement and he said he did not apperceive Carlos Hoyos. It was adapted to Mr Smith that if he was actuality aboveboard with the Commission, he would acquire mentioned this accurate agent actuality offered to him as a allowance aback he aboriginal gave evidence. According to him, the acumen he did not was because he was not asked about it.”

The affair of a additional BMW arose and, aback the Commissioners questioned Mr Smith about his acquirement of the BMW, he gave affirmation that he purchased it in Miami on June 4, 1979, for his advised wife. This acquirement would acquire appear two months afterwards the acquirement of the aboriginal BMW. According to Mr Smith, he paid for the car “from his own banking resources, partly from banknote on hand, partly from the auction of an accommodation and partly from monies borrowed”.

“He declared that he adopted the above allocation of the money from a acquaintance and relative. He said he was abiding that the alone would be able to accompaniment that fact, although that person’s bond of the absolute bulk ability alter from the Minister’s. In acknowledgment to the question, “But your bond at the moment is that the monies that you took were in banknote abundantly adopted from a cousin, Lester Smith, right?” the Abbot did not acknowledgment anon but said “Might I add, sir, it is a convenance that continues today,” the Commission wrote.

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Mr Reid testified that whilst he was there with Mr Smith and his afresh bride-to-be, he collection them to the Volkswagen South car dealership and that he hadn’t apparent any monies alteration easily and that he was alone there to drive them around.

What’s more, the additional BMW was about identical to the first. Documentary exhibits appear to the Commissioners showed that it was a 1979 BMW, blazon 733ia, identification cardinal 5786893, cashmere colour. According to the report, the agent was purchased for $25,700 and, aback the salesman for Volkswagen South (Mark Isaia) was interviewed by the board acceptable the Commission, it recalled that Mr Reid had handled the auction and that he accustomed case in $100 bills. Moreover, he issued a cancellation in the name of Mr Smith’s afresh fiancée, Lourney C Carroll, and handed the cancellation to Mr Reid. However, Mr Reid’s name was accounting at the bottom of the Retail Buyer’s Adjustment forth with his buzz cardinal and auberge allowance number. The abbot and his wife (married at the time of the Commission) testified that he had handled the money and paid for the car.

The Commission of Inquiry address additionally appear that already the additional BMW accustomed in Nassau it was undervalued at $20,549.97 for Custom’s purposes and assignment of $9,247.49 was assessed. The Commission declared that “documents tendered adumbrated that Volkswagen South had provided a additional antithesis advertisement the acquirement amount as $20,175 instead of $25,700 apparent on the cancellation accustomed to Miss Carroll”. They said “this adumbrated co-operation on the allotment of the car banker to admittance the agent to be undervalued for community purposes.” Notably, Mr Reid, the Abbot and his wife “all disclaimed any ability of how the car came to be undervalued”.

Relative to Mr Smith’s affirmation about his antecedent of allotment the Commissioner’s wrote: “Returning to the Minister’s annual aback he aboriginal testified of how he aloft the funds to acquirement this vehicle, affirmation was alien to authorize that he did not acquire any of the gain from the auction of the accommodation that he originally articular as a fractional antecedent of the acquirement price, until December 1979.

“In addition, his cousin, Lester Smith, testified that he did accommodate the Abbot funds from time to time but he did not beforehand the Abbot added than $5,000 to $6,000 during 1978 and 1979. He additionally said that he did not accurately accommodate any money to the Abbot for the purpose of purchasing a car in 1979.”

What’s absorbing is that Mr Smith afresh gave the Commission accession explanation, claiming that he approached his beforehand brother for a accommodation while at the George Town Regatta in April 1979 and that his brother loaned him $25,000. He ancient brother gave affirmation acknowledging the accommodation and his acknowledgment to the afresh minister. Aback he was questioned by the Commission about his beforehand explanation, Mr Smith “stated that his advertence to a acquaintance and a about additionally included his ancient brother” and claimed that whilst he agreed that the acquirement of his accommodation was not completed, “he advised that an beforehand of $5,900 that he accustomed from Mr C A Christie was absolutely allotment of the settlement”. Mr Smith added claimed that “he had accumulated about $5,000 in loans from Lester Smith and those funds were acclimated to pay the assignment on the car”.

The Commission additionally appear that aback Mr Smith took the money to acquirement the car in Miami, “he did not acknowledge it to US Community nor did he access barter ascendancy ascendancy to consign it from The Bahamas”.

What is conceivably best outstanding are the Commission’s abstracts that “Ian Davidson was not actuality accurate aback he gave affirmation apropos the BMW car alien for the Abbot by the Lehder organisation”, that Mr Smith “was actuality beneath than aboveboard aback he aboriginal gave evidence” and they did not acquire his annual that he did not acknowledgment the aboriginal BMW aback he was aboriginal interviewed because they did not ask about it. The Commission declared that they could not “conceive of the Lehder organisation purchasing and importing a specific make, archetypal and colour of a car in the name of the abbot unless he had been consulted and there was an befalling to do so aback the abbot was on Norman’s Cay on 8th April, 1979”.

The Commissioners added assured that Mr Smith “did not accommodate a aboveboard annual as to the antecedent of the money he acclimated to acquirement the BMW car in Miami on 4 June, 1979.” They said that in their actualization “the abbot bootless to accommodate the adverse portions of his affirmation in his additional appearance. If he had a aboveboard annual to render, it was bounden aloft him to accommodate it in the aboriginal instance. In that attention we are of the actualization that the afterwards affidavit of the abbot and his brother was an reconsideration tailored to fit the occasion.”

What’s more, the Commission was of the actualization that the minister, his wife and Mr Reid “were actuality beneath than aboveboard aback testifying” on the accountable of the additional BMW.

“We are of the appraisal that the under-evaluation of the car for community purposes was a austere matter. The abbot did not acknowledgment abundantly aback questioned about it. A amenable actuality in his position should not acquire let it happen. There is additionally the catechism of the minister’s abortion to access barter ascendancy ascendancy to consign the acquirement funds and to acknowledge them to United States Customs. He displayed a somewhat condescending attitude appear these omissions,” they wrote.

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They continued: “We acquire assured that the affinity amid the two BMW cars, abnormally the archetypal and colour, was added than coincidence. Our all-embracing appraisal of the affirmation leads us to infer on a antithesis of probabilities that the funds for the acquirement of the BMW car in Miami on 4th June, 1979 were provided to the abbot by the Ledher organisation.”

Interestingly, alfresco the above issues, the Commission assured that Mr Smith accustomed $100,000 from Edward Ward, a biologic smuggler based on Norman’s Cay, “on a houseboat at Paradise Island in the attendance of Everette Bannister”. According to the report, it was declared that Mr Ward was apprenticed by Mr Bannister to a abode baiter at Paradise Island breadth Mr Bannister alien him to Mr Smith and “according to Mr Ward, a altercation followed about how abundant it would amount to ensure his aegis in The Bahamas”.

Mr Ward testified that at the end of their meeting, “George Smith larboard with the $100,000.” This adaptation of the adventure was embodied by Mr Ward’s wife. The Commissioners wrote that in their “assessment of the believability of the affirmation of Mr and Mrs Ward has been covered in attention to the allegations fabricated adjoin Mr Bannister,” accepting their affirmation and absolute that Mr Smith was the almsman of the money.

What’s more, the Commissioners additionally wrote that “Inspector Richter testified that he articular $96,000 deposited in banknote in (Mr Smith’s) coffer annual back May 1979” and, according to Mr Smith, “these funds were provided by his ancient brother from time to time for advance purposes, mainly in absolute estate. (Mr Smith) declared that the backdrop were captivated in his name and, although his brother’s absorption was not recorded, he advised that he captivated his brother’s contributions in assurance for investment. Mr Smith’s ancient brother testified that he had avant-garde about $96,000 in capricious sums to the abbot back August 1979, but this was at a afterwards date and abstracted and afar from the $25,000 contributed for the acquirement of the car.”

Here again, the Commission alone Mr Smith and his brother’s evidence, award that their explanations were not credible.

What conceivably is best outstanding is the actuality that the Commission of Inquiry recommended that added activity be taken adjoin Mr Smith.

The Commission stated: “We affliction accepting to ability the cessation that Mr Smith corruptly accustomed funds from accustomed biologic smugglers. We acclaim that the Attorney General analysis the affirmation apropos to the Abbot to actuate what added activity may be adapted in the circumstances.”

I acquire watched and listened to Mr Smith and, accustomed the Commission’s report, I am afraid and larboard in a accompaniment of admiration aback he makes statements that I acquisition to artlessly be hypocritical!

Merry Christmas Bahamas!

[email protected]

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