Categorized | National News

PM Kept Consultancy Fees

Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday admitted that he kept fees he earned from consultancy services he gave to the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) – the company hoping to drill for oil in The Bahamas as early as next year.

The company recently fulfilled most of its obligations for a renewal of oil exploration in The Bahamas and is hoping to construct an oil well by next year.

On Monday, the Free National Movement (FNM) said it was concerned that the government’s planned oil referendum would hide any “ongoing conflict of interest.”

It was earlier this year that it was revealed that Prime Minister Christie acted on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister Philip ‘Brave’ Davis’ law firm Davis & Co.

However, Mr. Christie was Opposition leader at the time.

Yesterday, the nation’s chief said because of that fact, there is nothing wrong.

“I am a lawyer. In Opposition I am a lawyer. Dr. [Hubert] Minnis is a surgeon. When we are not in government we are free to do those things,” he told reporters.

“And the fact of the matter is that I performed consultancy services in a very limited way for the Davis law firm. I am a senior person in public life and I am able to give persons who are clients of the Davis law firm and the way I do it is that I don’t go in an office. When I am required to give advice, I give the best possible advice. One of the advices that I gave was for them to go to the Higgs and Johnson.”

He continued, “The consultancy really led me to give the best advice for them. I never felt Mr. Davis’ law firm would have been received by the then government the way the other law firms would. And so, I gave them specific advice. They followed it and therefore moved from the very criticism that is being made.”

Mr. Christie, who has been in politics for more than 30 years, said he has prided himself on having high integrity in public life.

“Dr. Minnis must exercise the greatest care when he is passing judgment on people. I have prided myself being able to abide by the code of ethics that public figures should. And really I jealously guard my integrity. You don’t have to backdoor me or go through all kinds of angles to know what I am accountable for. I pride myself of being someone who exemplifies someone who has integrity in public life,” he said.

The prime minister also revealed that during his tenure at the Ingraham & Christie law firm, he and former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham had dealings with oil companies wanting to drill oil in The Bahamas.

“I’ve been a part of a law firm with Ingraham and Davis as a partner when we have made applications for a significant amount of law companies and none of them have been successful to date,” Mr. Christie said.

The government has said that it plans to put the issue of oil drilling in The Bahamas to the Bahamian people through a referendum.

Mr. Christie said that referendum will come sometime next year.

“That will only arise after the Constitution Committee has reported. As you know, I have appointed a Constitution Commission. They have until March 30 to reply to the government and give its recommendations. Those recommendations inevitably will require a referendum and it is anticipated that if in fact they will require a referendum, then what we will do is add the question of oil drilling to that referendum,” he said.

Meantime, Mr. Christie said if the Bahamian people want oil drilling the government would have to overhaul laws regarding that industry.

“I remember many years ago, I looked at the agreement and I added an environmental clause to the agreement and prior to that there was not such a clause providing an obligation to exercise care. The former government made an environmental impact assessment and I think studies have been done in pursuance of that new requirement and so there is no doubt that that is necessary for oil drilling in The Bahamas. And that therefore means either amendments to the existing Act and alternatively new legislation, which will also embrace how money is shared with respect to the industry,” he said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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