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Fnm Attacks Plp Over Lease Deal To Minister’S Family

Dr Michael Darville and Brensil Rolle.

Dr Michael Darville and Brensil Rolle.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Christie administration entered into a ten-year, multi-million-dollar lease agreement with relatives of a sitting Cabinet member, Grand Bahama Minister Dr Michael Darville, and its decision not to publicly disclose the agreements has drawn accusations of hypocrisy from Public Services Minister Brensil Rolle who now has responsibility for leases. 

Darville’s Wholesale Limited owns property on Gladstone Road which is being used as offices for the National Training Agency. Separate contracts, each establishing ten-year leases, were signed in 2013, 2014 and 2015, totaling $10.6m. 

Dr Darville’s brother, Carl Darville, is the president of the company. His late father, George Darville, signed the contracts as the company’s secretary. Dr Darville has said he has no interest in the company. Mr Rolle nonetheless contrasted his administration’s handling of the Town Centre Mall lease with the Christie administration’s handling of the leases involving Dr Darville’s relatives. 

The Town Centre Mall, used to house the General Post Office, is partly owned by St Anne’s MP Brent Symonette. The agreement was inked while Mr Symonette was immigration minister; he resigned from the post earlier this month citing personal reasons.

The Progressive Liberal Party has attacked the Minnis administration for leasing the mall while Mr Symonette has an interest in the building. Parliament passed a resolution permitting the lease last year but Mr Symonette sparked controversy this month when he revealed he discussed the leasing arrangements for the mall with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, a revelation that appeared to contradict the resolution. 

Although Dr Darville had no interest in the Gladstone Road buildings, Mr Rolle believes the previous administration should have brought a resolution to Parliament, a belief he admitted is not based on the Constitution.

He said: “They’ve pushed the argument that Brent did not do certain things. We contend that Brent did everything within the constitution and within the rules. He was leasing a building to the government of the Bahamas. He disclosed he had an interest in the building. Once he disclosed his interest he said he could not participate in any discussions on whether we will lease the building. The hypocrisy of the PLP is primarily that one of their own had a lease for a close family member and they did not say a word. A politically exposed person was involved but nothing was said and they didn’t come to Parliament.” 

Through the Department of Social Services, the government under the Christie administration also leased property from another brother of Dr Darville, Paul Darville, who owns Renaldo Investments. It is not clear when those contracts were signed and when they will expire but the Ministry of Public Service has budgeted $298,624.92 to lease the properties for the 2019-2020 fiscal period.

“Let’s dismiss leasing the training agency,” Mr Rolle said. “Look at Grand Bahama. Darville was the minister responsible for Grand Bahama and this took place in Grand Bahama. Notwithstanding the fact that it was leased through the Ministry of Public Service, the fact is anything coming out of Grand Bahama passes through his hands.”

When contacted this week, Dr Darville rebuffed Mr Rolle’s claims, telling The Tribune he had nothing to do with leasing of any of the properties.

“This was even brought up during the election campaign,” he said. “We debated this in the House of Assembly before because this has been in and out of the House. In fact, one time the debate was so intense that Melanie (Griffin, then social services minister) had to come to my defence and say I had nothing to do with it, that it was strictly a technical matter. There is no conflict of interest whatsoever. This is all a red herring to deflect from Brent.”

Article 49 of the constitution and Cabinet manual and procedures govern the conduct of elected officials when they or their close relatives have business before the government. 

Article 49 requires that parliamentarians resign if they become interested in a government contract unless the House exempts them when they have declared their interest beforehand. Cabinet manual and procedures requires that ministers declare their interests or those of their immediate family when they have business before the government. 

Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis said there are no parallels between Mr Symonette and Dr Darville’s matter because one had an interest in a business and the other did not. 

“If Darville had an interest,” Mr Davis said, “he would’ve had to declare as the law requires but he did not. The issue here really is whether he participated in the decision and my recollection is he did not. A public declaration is only necessary when you have a personal interest in the contract. In that case you have to get Parliament to excuse you.”

Moreover, Mr Davis said Cabinet’s code requires that the interests of a minister or their close relatives be disclosed to Cabinet, not to the public.

“Cabinet code and procedures demands that you have to disclose the interests to the decision-making body and thereby you will be excused from participating in the decision-making process,” he said. “It is Cabinet’s manual so the disclosure is to Cabinet colleagues.” 

It is not clear if the contracts of Dr Darville’s relatives came before Cabinet. Mr Rolle suggested that under the previous administration, leases may not have generally come before Cabinet. 

In statements yesterday, PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell said: “The former minister has reported that he has and had at all material times no pecuniary or other interest in these buildings. He was not a party to the leases, nor is he now, nor does he have now, nor did he have at all material times in the past any pecuniary or other interest in the buildings or the leases.

“The former minister also reported that he played no role in the negotiations, nor Cabinet decision in connection with the buildings or the leases. There is no conflict. This is an attempt to compare the conduct of Brent Symonette to the case of the former minister. The cases are not the same. Mr Symonette is declared to be the owner of the building leased to the government. Mr Symonette was involved in the negotiations to lease the building...it was Brent Symonette who admitted to (talk show host) Shenique Miller that he told the prime minister that the Town Centre Mall deal was a conflict of interest. Later, the entire FNM parliamentary caucus voted to approve a House resolution that was a lie. The prime minister and Brent Symonette knew that they were misleading the House, so all statements coming from the FNM are necessarily tainted with credibility issues.” 

Comments

Dawes 4 months, 3 weeks ago

The idea should not be to do something because the other side did it. It should be to do something because it is the right thing to do.

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The_Oracle 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Crazy in that all either side has to do is point a finger at the other side and say "they did it too" and somehow that makes it fine or acceptable. Crazier still we the public accept it!

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Sickened 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Not all of us accept that argument but for sure the vast majority of us do. Sad.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Why doesn't Brensil Rolle provide the public with a comprehensive listing of all properties currently being leased by government showing for each property its location, the name(s) of the landlord(s), the start date of the lease, the initial duration of the lease, the current annual rent and key terms for renewal and rent escalation? Why doesn't Minnis and Turnquest press for legislation that would require this information be publicly available on the official government web site in a directory of properties leased by government and entities controlled by government? I will tell you why. It's because this is well known to be one of the more often used means by which corrupt FNM and PLP governments alike have for decades been wrongfully enriching elected officials, their family members, their business partners, their cronies, their close friends and supporters, and, of course, their treasured lovers.

Anyone remember Minnis saying while he was minister of health in the last Ingraham-led FNM government:

"Ya'll dunno whatcha ya talkin'bout. I have no conflict of interest because it is a company owned by me and not me directly that is leasing a building to the Public Health (Hospital) Authority for $7,000 per month. Need I say more?"

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licks2 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Hahahahahahhahahahahhahahahahahahaha. . .yall was clamorous about conflict of interests and now yinna see that how it must be done. . .WHEN IT WAS NOT DONE. . .BY THE SAME PEOPLE WHO ARE MAKING NOISE WHEN IT IS DONE ACCORDING TO LAW. . .YINNA STILL ALL OVER THE PLACE TALKING "FALLY"!!

Hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe . . .yinna is a trip nah!! Cho cho cho cho cho cho cho. . .yinna is a buncha jokes dem nah!!

Poor Mr. Davis. . .Mitchell leading him all over the place. . .making him look dumb!! Article 49 says "Parliamentarian of an immediate family member"! I guess Mr. Davis een understand what an immediate family is!! Hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe!

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TalRussell 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Please take note prayers thousands colony's comrade out islanders being forced watch families drama being beamed out by House speaker to all street corners, social status, range different colours, brains capacities and blame game pettiness politics, does sends out to the Darville, Symonette and Godet relatives during these much difficult trying financial times, yes, no just can't be making this up....Amen!

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sealice 4 months, 3 weeks ago

it's so ironic the PLP standing there and trying to make like #1 - people like them #2 - they aren't as crooked as any other gubmint of the Bahamas..... you are just proving to the general public what a bunch of crooked liars you are.... please continue reinforcing the point....

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joeblow 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Man! I gotta get into politics, make some deals that benefit my family (but not me of course) and ride the gravy train!

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licks2 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Man yoon ger get nothing. . .you gatta be in one of the parties. . .Hahahahahahahahahahaha! You go around dem peoples dem and the first thing you ger hear is "WHO YOU IS"???? Lol!!

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birdiestrachan 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Rolle makes a fool of him self every time he opens his mouth, The holder of the lease is not a sitting member of Parliament. as Brent Symonette is and the lease is far less.

Breslin is kissing up to Mr. Symonette with all that is in Rolle, Has he no shame??

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licks2 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Darville was the minister of Freeport at the time. . .also the law says "immediate family" as well!! His brother een he immediate family aye? I guess what one man said to me when a PLP said: "f" the constitution when I told him that Doc dem followed the constitution with that contract. H e said: "DON'T WASTE YA TIME. . .DEM PLP DEM DUMB LIKE THAT"!!

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TigerB 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Well, Brave asked Brent to resign, simply because it was made public from the get go..... let's see if it will be as always with the PLP, It's ok for them to do anything in secret, but when it comes to others they rant and rave...I like this, watch Brave and his big mouth now! No excuses. This lease was signed when Darville was a sitting MP right here in Freeport, but it was ok then, he was a PLP in charge of Min. of Grand Bahama.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 months, 3 weeks ago

You fail to recognize that Minnis and Davis are cut from the same cloth when it comes to their ethics....one is no different from the other!

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TalRussell 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I have asks because besets me no end, why is it that 34 comrade elected Imperialists, their politically appointed and their hired media guns.are only now suddenly started referring to The Colony of Out Islands prime minister, as "The Most Honorific Minnis" - so, what's difference between The Right Honourable and The Most Honourific ....I'm not making this up....is we beloved Queen, okay this ....and, Populaces has their own unique way addressed PM, yes, true ,,, .

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Johh 4 months, 3 weeks ago

All parties are just alike .same thing over just cannot win

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John 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Is this a case of ‘when you live in a glass house you should not throw stones’, or ‘when you throw stones you should not live in s Glass House.’ Not only as opposition did the FNM not uncover the lease of the property but they saw fit to continue on the lease for some 2 1/2 years.

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licks2 4 months, 3 weeks ago

THIS A DANG GOOD QUESTION. . .AFTER ALL THEY WERE "CHECKING" EVERYTHING AND THE KITCHEN ZINC WHEN THEY CAME TO OFFICE!! I am interested to find the answer to that question!!

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sheeprunner12 4 months, 3 weeks ago

The political class of The Bahamas is an oligarchy ....... their business "deals" transcends a seat in Parliament ........ Do some research and find out who has business interests with who first.

There will always be Parliamentary conflicts of interests because the majority of Bahamian politicians are millionaires who invest across the party line and who protect each others companies' interests while in Government ...... No impartial Ombudsman or FOIA to create checks and balances for the citizens.

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licks2 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I guess we have the answer to the "foot dragging" with the FOIA aye? Chile I tell you. . .they really think that we "is" a buncha yard chickens dem. . .ween gat no sense!!

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