Categorized | National News

Ash: ‘I Paid PLP MPs’

Leading up to the 2017 General Election, former Cabinet Minister Shane Gibson suggested, through a WhatsApp conversation with key prosecution witness Jonathan Ash, that he needed between $50,000 to $100,000 for several Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Members of Parliament.

Ash told the court yesterday that during the WhatsApp conversation, which occurred on March 28, he replied, “We need to win”.

He said he soon began paying Carmichael, Southern Shores, Sea Breeze, Golden Gates, Golden Isles, Yamacraw, South Beach and Bamboo Town PLP candidates between $5,000 and $10,000.

Around this time Ash noted that people started to call his phone saying he made so much money and that the then prime minister had his name all over and spoke about him in the House of Assembly.

Ash also noted that he was trying to get property and asked Gibson to speak with former Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation Executive Chairman Dion Smith for him in this regard.

He also added that he gave Gibson money to give to Smith in this regard. 

However, Ash also revealed that to this day none of the properties were legit.

When asked why he got the police involved, Ash said he knew what was happening.  He said he was in fear for his life and so he came forward.

Ash testified that the police never approached him, but that he did it on his own free will.

When asked about the immunity deal he was offered, he said as a small businessman he had to protect himself and his family and that he came forward before the immunity deal was presented to him.

Additionally, lead attorney for the prosecution James Guthre also revealed in court that Deborah Bastian will no longer testify in the high profile trial for reasons not said in court.

This follows as Ash claims he paid Bastian $200,000 to pay to Gibson.

Lead defense attorney Keith Knight, QC, requested that Bastian be called by the defense because she is necessary to the case.

The Supreme Court judge said he would speak to Knight about it.  

The witness also went through a spreadsheet detailing Ash’s bank statements showing that on January 20, 2017, the Ash Enterprise and Trucking owner received five cheques from the Public Treasury totaling just over $653,000.

They were all for work already in different areas around the island post Hurricane Matthew.

The court also heard about countless occasions where he made withdrawals from his bank accounts to be paid to Deborah Bastian.

That money went towards paying off a $250,000 bill he had with former Cabinet Minister Shane Gibson.

Ash further testified that he met with Gibson on five occasions and paid him $25,000 the first time and $10,000 another three times.

When asked why he made the payments, Ash said for several reasons because he was a businessman, because Gibson was in charge, because “I know how the country run” and because he was in fear for his life.

The witness went on to reveal that between March 8 and 21, his company received checks totaling $1.3 million from the treasury. 

The trial resumes today at 10 a.m.   

Written by Jones Bahamas

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