Categorized | National News

Sands Confessed Breaking Rule

Health Minister Doctor  Duane Sands  confessed that he deviated from  the normal procedures  of awarding a contract to   Magic Touch Cleaning Company in the Frank Smith extortion and bribery trial yesterday in the Magistrates Court.

Evidence coming out of the high profile case has revealed that Dr. Sands awarded a nearly $2 million contract to Barbara Hanna’s Magic Touch Cleaning Company for the Princess Margaret Hospital, without board approval.

Mrs. Hanna  contributed $300 to Dr. Sands’ 2017 election campaign.

Former PLP MP Smith, is alleged to have extorted tens of thousands of dollars from Mrs. Hanna after awarding a cleaning contract for PMH’s critical care block.

In court yesterday, Dr. Sands testified that he didn’t award a contract to Hanna,  but approved the award of the contract to Magic Touch Cleaning Company.

Dr. Sands said the contract had board approval, but lead defense counsel, Keith Knight QC, argued that Dr. Sands said the matter did not go to the board.Mr. Knight asked Sands if he had approved any contract awarded without board approval, to which  Dr.Sands replied that he did. 

Attorney Knight asked if he recommended or approved the award of any contract emanating from the PHA without the board, since Magic Touch Cleaning Company, and Dr. Sands said no he has not. 

The lawyer  further questioned Sands about his encounters with Hanna. Dr.Sands said he doesn’t  think he told Hanna to go to the police the first time they spoke about the alleged bribery and extortion, but instead he took note of what she said.

He said it was not until several complaints to him about the same issue did he tell her to take it to the police. 

Previously, Sands said he received several calls a day from Hanna and would return the calls.

However, yesterday Knight questioned Dr. Sands about how he was able to return Hanna’s calls if he said when she called, the number was blocked.

He argued that  Dr.Sands could not possibly know it was Hanna calling if it was blocked.

The Minister attempted to clarify by saying the number was blocked on a regular call,  which means he wouldn’t know who it was unless he answered the call.

He added that most of the calls were WhatsApp calls which weren’t blocked because Hanna’s number was saved in his contacts. 

In response to the question of why wasn’t the matter taken to cabinet, considering a cabinet decision is based on a cabinet paper, the witness responded that some matters are discussed at the table and cabinet does not have a paper on a decision of this matter.

When asked if this was a deviation of a policy, Dr. Sands said his intent was to show an example of deviation from the process, admitting that he did deviate from the normal procedures.

Dr. Sands said there is no requirement of the PHA to take financial matters to cabinet. 

The trial resumes on November 13th at 10am. 

Written by Jones Bahamas

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