Statement on Bank of The Bahamas
Leader of the Opposition
Member of Parliament for Killarney
Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis MP
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Nassau, The Bahamas
I want to make it patently clear that the FNM values the Bank of The Bahamas, and recognize it as a major financial institution and an important part of the financial landscape of The Bahamas, and that is why we are here today.
The Bahamian people were shocked to learn that the Government, which recently had to take on an additional $100 Million in contingent debt liability to prop up the Bank of The Bahamas, used its voting power to ensure the re-election of the same managers and directors who drove the Bank into the ditch!
The Government has betrayed the public trust and has failed to protect the people’s money by its inept handling of the Bank of The Bahamas crisis. I wish on behalf of the Free National Movement and all Bahamians to register our deep concern for the mismanagement of affairs of the Bank of The Bahamas. This PLP government continues to show a lack of leadership which may result in continued damage to the interests of the public and the reputation of the people’s bank. The public trust and confidence will not be fully restored by allowing the present leadership of the Bank to plan or repair the damage which they themselves must take responsibility for.
Bahamians were also shocked to hear from the mouth of the newly re-elected Managing Director that while he apparently is not to be made accountable for critical errors under his watch (I quote), “not one member of the 2009-2010 corporate credit business department is in this bank’s employment today”! This is truly a scandalous, if not laughable, state of affairs. The middle-managers and line staff in the corporate credit department have been fired, but the senior managers and managing director, who presided over the financial collapse, are keeping their jobs?
The small man is made to bite the dust, while the well-connected cronies of politicians are still “sitting pretty”?
This development is utterly unacceptable! This is an abuse of confidence and an abuse of power. The entire leadership and senior management of the Bank of The Bahamas must do the honourable thing, the necessary thing and resign forthwith!
We have assembled here at the people’s bank to declare with one loud voice that ‘Enough is Enough’. The government must act and they must act now! The use of government voting power to prop up failed leadership in the Bank is unacceptable, when the Bahamian taxpayers have been made to swallow a $100 Million increase in the Public Debt load in order to prop up the same Bank. The bank’s present leadership must go and they must go now. It is unacceptable that those who oversaw the bank’s record losses should be allowed to remain to the detriment of that organization, and good reputation of The Bahamas. What about the employees and the depositors, and we the shareholders? Who is looking out for them or us?
The failed leadership of the Bank of The Bahamas was mandated to produce a recovery plan by the end of December, 2014. Nothing has yet been produced. Where is the strategic plan? What is the plan, moving forward, to ensure the bank’s recovery and profitability?
We therefore call upon the government to immediately:
1. Call for and to achieve the immediate resignation of the managing director, chairman of the board of directors, all board members involved, and senior management at the Bank of The Bahamas;
2. Appoint a new managing director, new board and senior managers from the ranks of the many experienced Bahamian Bankers who are capable of managing the Bank; and
3. Cause an immediate forensic audit to be conducted of all decisions made by senior management which contributed to the potential collapse of the Bank, the need for intense Central bank intervention, and ultimately the need for a government bailout.
The Free National Movement is outraged at this latest example of the cronyism of the bankrupt PLP government. We are outraged that, of all the Commercial banks which are operating in our Country, under the same adverse economic conditions, it is only the government’s bank, the people’s bank, which has been brought to its knees by cronyism, mis-management, and now by a full-fledged personal rescue package for failed and imprudent leadership at the Bank. The FNM intends at the earliest convenience to Move for the Appointment of a Select Committee of the House of Assembly to fully, thoroughly and painstakingly conduct a complete review of the operations of the Bank of The Bahamas which led to its virtual financial collapse.
The Prime Minister must show true leadership instead of recklessness, cronyism and incompetence. This is the people’s bank with the people’s money and they have a duty to protect and account. The PLP must remember to protect the people’s money with the same eagerness as they collect it. And to account for the people’s money with the same passion as they spend it!