By Damian Gomez Q.C.
The Honourable Mr. Peter Turnquest may well be innocent of the public allegations of financial misconduct and criminal acts contained in a published writ of Summons filed by the law firm of Mr. Michael Scott, QC.
While the Deputy Prime Minister professes his Innocence as he is so entitled, the public interest looms much larger than his personal issues.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Office of the Attorney General are duty bound to investigate the veracity of the allegations and to uphold the rule of law without fear or favour, without malice or ill will nor with regard to the high office of the person accused. The Opposition has properly requested a public response from the Government. Days have passed in deafening silence.
Surely, the Government should at the very least made a public assurance that its relevant agencies have become engaged and that they are each performing their legal duties, including contacting the US Justice Department to ascertain what accounting evidence it or any other government department (such as the IRS) might have to assist our local functionaries in their investigation and making a similar request of the principal of the companies that have made these most serious allegations. This is not a matter that can be compromised, and the public has every right to expect the investigation to be transparent and fair to both the accused and the accusers.
In the meantime, the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance ought to resign from Cabinet in accordance with the conventions of the Westminster system of Government. Alternatively, the Most Honourable Prime Minister is obliged to dismiss his Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in the public interest. By now, these steps ought to have been completed.
Our standing as a country demands no less from its political leadership and those charged with the duty to uphold the rule of law without fear or favour nor regard to the station of those alleged to be guilty of very serious criminal matters impacting our standing in the financial services global environment.
It is apposite to note the reputation of The Bahamas! We have relations with the FATF, the CFATF, the OECD, the IDB, the CDB, the OAS, ECLAC, the World Bank, the IMF, the EU, Canada and the USA. Our national and international standing is not a political football nor is this matter a game. Our national reputation demands of our Government that every step be taken to preserve it!
For these reasons, the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister ought to resign or be fired on the premise that our national interest is superior to and greater than any personal interest of individual members of Cabinet.