By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Committee of Privilege sanctioned by Speaker of the House of Assembly Dr Kendal Major to probe claims made by Stellar Waste to Energy CEO Dr Fabrizio Zanaboni that MPs from both major parties have requested small contributions to aid their constituencies while his company had business before the government held its first sitting yesterday.
According to committee chairman, Central and South Eleuthera MP Damian Gomez, the group only met briefly due to Mr Zanaboni’s absence.
Mr Gomez said it was then agreed that the committee would need more time than was allotted by Dr Major to complete its work.
The given deadline is January 20, he said. He said when the House of Assembly meets next week, Dr Major would be petitioned to have the timeline extended.
“An allegation raising the issue of corruption has been made and we are taking it seriously,” Mr Gomez told The Tribune.
“But we couldn’t proceed because we need to get the House’s permission to extend the time beyond when the Speaker gave us to have it done. Dr Zanaboni is not here and won’t be here until after the time we were allotted for this and we also feel it should be a public hearing that also accommodates the media as well.”
Last month, Central Grand Bahama MP Neko Grant said in the House of Assembly that Mr Zanaboni’s comments suggested “bribery” of politicians, as he called for the Royal Bahamas Police Force to investigate the matter.
The controversy arose after The Nassau Guardian published comments attributed to Dr Zanaboni in which he said parliamentarians from both major political parties have sought contributions from him ranging from $200 to $300 for community-based events.
However, without revealing names, Dr Zanaboni stressed that these were not election contributions.
Yesterday, Mr Grant told this newspaper that he found the comments to be “insulting” and that the Stellar Waste chief should be made to reveal the MPs who received money from the company.
“It is unfair and it is unacceptable that he would go around impugning the characters of the 38 members of Parliament.”
When Mr Grant raised the matter in the House last December, Prime Minister Perry Christie said he believed it was a matter that should be taken under the consideration of House Speaker Dr Kendal Major.
At the time, Mr Christie said: “Mr Speaker, I am not quite sure how we should address the matter of this kind but the sentiments expressed by the member for Central Grand Bahama it appears so in the circumstances it is a matter before the chair. It is a matter that I think the Speaker should take under advisement and move to make a determination on how this matter should be dealt with.
“But again your research will indicate how other parliaments dealt with similar circumstances where a member raised a point that was shared by other members. So this side will have no objections.”
Mr Zanaboni wrote to Dr Major last month, saying his earlier comments were taken out of context.
“I am Italian, and have a hearing problem, and sometimes I have difficulty understanding when someone asks me a question, so I tend to stay away from speaking out all together,” he wrote. “I never meant to suggest that any member was asking for a bribe, as said, I have never even been asked by any of them, and it was most certainly never my intention to tarnish in any way the honourable men and women who represent this country in the House of Assembly.”