UPDATED: Former deputy speaker arrested in theft probe

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

and RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporters

DION Smith, the former deputy speaker of the House of Assembly, was yesterday taken into custody in connection with an ongoing probe into “theft by reason of employment” at the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation, which he headed under the Christie administration.

According to Assistant Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander, the former Nassau Village MP turned himself over to authorities shortly after 4pm in the presence of his attorney, Wayne Munroe, QC.

ACP Fernander at the time could not say how long police intended to keep Mr Smith in custody, but said he was assisting officers with their investigations into the matter. However, another senior police official said it was “more than likely” Mr Smith would be held overnight.

This comes as police have released the eight BAIC employees who were being questioned in connection with the investigation earlier this week, all of whom are also being represented by Mr Munroe.

On Tuesday, police said seven employees were taken into custody, however yesterday police said another worker was also questioned and later released.

Last night Mr Munroe warned that the arrest and subsequent questioning of Mr Smith without any “merit of a charge” sets a “dangerous precedent” for government officials.

Mr Munroe indicated that shortly after being taken into custody, Mr Smith gave a statement and was taken by officers to his headquarters and then to his home.

The attorney added that subsequent to this, Mr Smith was transported to the Cable Beach Police Station where he was expected to spend the night.

“This is very, very concerning,” Mr Munroe, a member of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), said. “This is a very sad step we are taking politically in this country because it sets a precedent where an outgoing government could face this course of action without any firm evidence.

“Can you imagine an outgoing prime minister having to face this sort of treatment as a new government looks to be satisfied on matters of finance?”

Mr Munroe told The Tribune that Mr Smith, who was reported to be out of the country on vacation since late last week, returned to the capital on Tuesday.

Mr Munroe said his client at the time of his return offered to assist officers in their investigations but was informed that his help was not needed at the time.

He added that Mr Smith followed developments in the investigation closely and once contacted Thursday, he immediately surrendered himself to police.

“Mr Smith in his capacity as chairman at BAIC could not handle any money and has nothing to hide,” Mr Munroe also said.

“He has remained accessible since Tuesday . . . but this entire situation has come across politically motivated.”

Mr Munroe however, applauded the actions of senior law enforcement officers who interviewed Mr Smith Thursday.

He said the officers involved yesterday were in stark contrast to the officers that “swarmed” BAIC offices brandishing firearms.

In an interview with The Tribune yesterday before Mr Smith’s arrest, Mr Munroe said the group was released, but added that police could file charges at another date “if they so choose.”

Mr Munroe also said as far as he knew, his clients did not remove anything from the property of BAIC that belonged to the agency.

The employees were taken into custody earlier this week after reports that some items were allegedly taken from BAIC on the night of the election and the day after.

A source close to the matter told The Tribune that police suspected the employees of allegedly attempting to destroy files and remove evidence from BAIC that could possibly show funds were being misappropriated.

However, Mr Munroe said there was no evidence of anything being stolen and to his understanding the employees only removed personal items from the building. In fact, Mr Munroe said it was also his understanding that an inventory check was conducted and “nothing was found to be missing.”

“The persons were released Wednesday evening and there have been no charges to date but that doesn’t stop police from doing it later,” Mr Munroe said early Thursday.

“There were never any allegations of money being stolen, when I went to BAIC the officers were on the premises with guns. I was told that it was about a television and a CPU and some files. I am also made to understand that the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture did an inventory check and everything was there. An outgoing political appointee has the choice to move his property because if you leave your stuff it might end up in the garbage.”

Mr Munroe also denied rumours that Mr Smith fled the country after the allegations. He said Mr Smith was previously out of the country with his family.

“I have represented Mr Smith and his family in respect to various matters over the years. He has not been questioned by police but if they wish to see him I will represent him, but I don’t see what they would want to see him about,” Mr Munroe said before his client was taken into custody.

“I think it would be obvious that when you get beat, you take your things or they will be thrown out. I thought it would be obvious that the outgoing chairman would take their stuff if they get beat. Some of our colleagues packed up a week before the election because they did not want to go back to their offices if they lost. If you are not packed up before then you have to move election night or your stuff will get thrown out. We lost. He lost,” Mr Munroe said.

Around 1.30pm Thursday, investigators led by ACP Fernander were seen leaving the Old Trail Road offices of BAIC.

It is understood that during their time inside the facility, investigators spoke to several employees across several departments.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic says...

The small fry like Dion Smith always get the full force of the law stomping on them while the really big fish like Sir Snake, Christie, Bag Man Bethel, the Wicked Witch Maynard-Gibson and others like them ride off into the sunset to enjoy their ill-gotten gains and unjust riches obtained at the people's expense!

Posted 18 May 2017, 6:28 p.m. Suggest removal

sheeprunner12 says...

Fall guys will not squeal on the Big-wigs ........ Bye, Bye Dynamite!!!!!!!!

Do the nation a favour and rat out Davis & Gray (who you worked for)

Posted 18 May 2017, 6:53 p.m. Suggest removal

banker says...

We now live in different times. The PLP is reduced to impotence and you may see the small fry roll over.

Posted 18 May 2017, 6:59 p.m. Suggest removal

Greentea says...

One can only hope Banker. One can only hope.

Posted 19 May 2017, 12:14 p.m. Suggest removal

BahamaPundit says...

Man. Seems like the Bahamas was being run by a bunch or thugs and gangsters under the PLP. No wonder crime was out of control.

Posted 18 May 2017, 8:55 p.m. Suggest removal

Porcupine says...

From the top on down.

Posted 19 May 2017, 7:34 a.m. Suggest removal

Baha10 says...

Not sure where you have been BahamaPundit, but welcome to The Bahamas of today! Unfortunately no easy or quick fix, if at all ... as what no one wants to acknowledge is that it may actually already be too late, in that what we just did will not actually stop us from going over the Cliff, if we are already over it!!!

Posted 18 May 2017, 9:10 p.m. Suggest removal

ThisIsOurs says...

This the same man who was on the radio talking about the wonderful things happening at BAIC and how he wanted to get additional funding so he could not only help people with business plans but also give out loans through BAIC, Juan McCartney seemed impressed but I knew I smelled a rat

Posted 18 May 2017, 9:12 p.m. Suggest removal

jusscool says...

Now we all know what wonderful things he referred to!

Posted 19 May 2017, 2:11 a.m. Suggest removal

ThisIsOurs says...

Imagine if Ducky had gotten elected.

Posted 18 May 2017, 9:13 p.m. Suggest removal

ThisIsOurs says...

I'm completely disillusioned, I don't see a way clear to stop these opportunists from crooking the system. I don't believe there's a young "unqualified" man in the country who's not looking at 2022 as their get rick quick chance . Maybe if someone like Perry Christie or Brave
Davis went to jail fir a long time that might send a signal, not sure...

Posted 18 May 2017, 9:18 p.m. Suggest removal

Voltaire says...

Squeal on dem Dion!! Everyone knows you are only small potatoes. Call out the big names and save yourself and the country one time!

Posted 18 May 2017, 9:30 p.m. Suggest removal

BahamaPundit says...

I think it will become clearer and clearer as more information is uncovered that the PLP was running a sham government. Their entire five year term was one big money laundering scheme - laundering public funds into private accounts. Something must be done by the FNM to ensure another sham government can never rule this country again as their private piggy bank.

Posted 18 May 2017, 9:56 p.m. Suggest removal

Sickened says...

We may not be able to arrest these guys but we sure can put proper procedures in place to make it very difficult for future government officials to steal the people's money.

Posted 19 May 2017, 10:53 a.m. Suggest removal

Well_mudda_take_sic says...

If they can't be arrested that means Minnis was full of you know what in claiming that many of the big wigs in the last PLP government were corrupt to the core and robbing the Bahamian people blind. Or is Minnis fearful of warranted criminal prosecutions that could come back to haunt him given what he and his select few cronies may have planned for the next five years in terms of greatly enriching themselves at the expense of the Bahamian people? Uuummm!

Posted 19 May 2017, 1:51 p.m. Suggest removal

BahamaPundit says...

I say bring in the English secret service and get this country sorted out the way the English sorted out Turks and Caicos and Michael Misick. That is the only way forward. With corruption this deep we must burn the house down and start from scratch. There is no point the Bahamas doing anything, if its public service is thiefing every dime left on the counter top.

Posted 18 May 2017, 10:12 p.m. Suggest removal

ThisIsOurs says...

I agree it's just too scummy. Maybe they should start making them come to work in tshirts to rid everyone of the illusion that this is the road to wealth

Posted 18 May 2017, 10:29 p.m. Suggest removal

Porcupine says...

Absolutely correct.

Posted 19 May 2017, 7:36 a.m. Suggest removal

Well_mudda_take_sic says...

Whole heartedly concur!

Posted 19 May 2017, 1:54 p.m. Suggest removal

watcher says...

BAIC seems as good a place as any to start the investigations. When / if the little people start to squeal to save their own skins, then we will work up the chain to Road Traffic, BoB, BAMSI, the landfill, Baha Mar, Urban Renewal etc etc

Posted 19 May 2017, 4:38 a.m. Suggest removal

Well_mudda_take_sic says...

Time is critical when it comes to the conduct of forensic accounting investigations ...... the more time goes by the more difficult the investigation becomes with the disappearance of documents and people. Always better to start with the really big stuff...Baha Mar, BoB, etc. The small stuff can be done later, if it needs to be done at all.

Posted 19 May 2017, 6 p.m. Suggest removal

SP says...

Corruption in the Bahamas is a massive enterprise that entangles many people collaborating across diverse ministries to function.

Obviously, an equally massive well-oiled **" high-level administrative team"** would be required operating end-to-end throughout the various ministries facilitating these people.

However, there is no need to burn down the house to catch a few rats.

Prime Minister Minnis needs to give serious consideration to implementing a "whistleblower" initiative. Perhaps offering a 5% bounty on information leading to corruption and recovery of pilfered state funds, or partial to full immunity if an individual was also involved.

Unquestionably, as the dominos begin to fall, people would be falling over each other to report corruption hoping to save their own skins.

Posted 19 May 2017, 5:44 a.m. Suggest removal

ThisIsOurs says...

Good idea

Posted 19 May 2017, 6:25 a.m. Suggest removal

SP says...

The Bahamas is not unique with institutional corruption and does not have to "reinvent the wheel" in dealing with it.

Many countries effectively use "whistleblower" programs to identify, stop, and discourage corruption.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistle...

Prime Minister Minnis has any number of tools and several qualified MP's at his disposal that could be designated to quickly adapt international norms to effectively implement a whistleblower program.

https://www.globalwhistleblower.org/

Motivating insiders to divulge information has proven the most expediant vehicle to exposing corruption.

Posted 19 May 2017, 6:04 a.m. Suggest removal

ThisIsOurs says...

I was wondering if "they" got Wayne Monroe or if Wayne Monroe was "sent". Like the mob boss sending his high powered lawyer to protect the limo driver.

Posted 19 May 2017, 6:28 a.m. Suggest removal

Gotoutintime says...

What I don't understand is--If the Police have information or suspicion that a crime has been committed why does it take a change of Government in order to have it investigated??

Posted 19 May 2017, 8:04 a.m. Suggest removal

Tarzan says...

Really???? You have to be kidding.

Posted 19 May 2017, 8:59 a.m. Suggest removal

OMG says...

Because political favoritism extend to some senior officers and don't forget that many officers are masons and sworn to help each other.

Posted 19 May 2017, 8:59 a.m. Suggest removal

sealice says...

So it's not about guilt it's about who you are??? FU you ugly SOS and take your dam signs down you ugly we know it you don't have to prove it repeatedly.....

Posted 19 May 2017, 9:32 a.m. Suggest removal

TalRussell says...

Comrades! According to the then Red Party's South Abaco MP and Executive Chairman of Bahamas Agriculture and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) Edison Key - (BAIC) had back in 2007, paid a law firm $5,000 as a retainer to start the process of collecting 'bad debts' on the books (BAIC). My question is - since 2007, were any of these 'bad debts' ever collected, and if not, why not?
Exactly what is the total amount of current 'bad debts' portfolio that have gone uncollected and remain on the books of (BAIC?
It's The People's Time" to know the true and real amount 'bad debts' not only on the books at (BAIC), but on the books of all other government owned or financially backed identities?

Posted 19 May 2017, 10:16 a.m. Suggest removal

proudloudandfnm says...

Is Wayne high? Wayne an investigation is THE HUNT FOR EVIDENCE. Suspects can be picked up and questioned for 48 hours. Stop being a lying PLP....

Posted 19 May 2017, 10:19 a.m. Suggest removal

yari says...

Not only suspects. Anyone who might be able to help in the investigation. Munroe is so thin-skinned...

Posted 19 May 2017, 10:38 a.m. Suggest removal

killemwitdakno says...

Represented by Munroe... LOLOLOLOL

Posted 19 May 2017, 11:05 a.m. Suggest removal

The_Oracle says...

Future Governments have nothing to fear if they conduct themselves honestly....
Being honest does not prevent accusation, or even questioning, but generally creates exoneration.
Kinda hard to do for this outgoing crew.....

Posted 19 May 2017, 11:23 a.m. Suggest removal

DetectiveRR says...

This corruption must stop

Posted 19 May 2017, 11:46 a.m. Suggest removal

birdiestrachan says...

It is plain to see that you all believe that all PLP's are demons and all FNM;s are saints. It goes
to show how very brilliant you all are?? I hope the dreams will end soon and reality will set in.

Mean spirited and nasty is the order of the day for you folks. you all can kill.

Posted 19 May 2017, 4:14 p.m. Suggest removal

Alex_Charles says...

no, no, no!

Let the investigation run it's course and we shall see. I don't give a damn if Minnis himself had a scandal scandal. investigate it, prosecute and if they are to be found guilty...lock all they ass up. RED, BLUE, or GREEN.

Posted 19 May 2017, 6:11 p.m. Suggest removal

Alex_Charles says...

from what I am hearing from other who are rather close to the situation, Dion is in a pretty bad position. I don't know, I wasn't there, but hot damn it doesn't look good.

let the chips fall where they may and ANYONE involved conducting a criminal act should be facing the fullest extent of the law.

Posted 19 May 2017, 6:08 p.m. Suggest removal

Voltaire says...

I am hearing the same thing Alex_Charles. What do you hear he is suspected of having done exactly?

Posted 19 May 2017, 7:10 p.m. Suggest removal

Alex_Charles says...

'borrowed' monies for his campaign and had a plan to return it after he won his seat in the elections. As we all know he and a majority of his colleagues were not successful in attaining a seat.

I'm not sure on the amount of monies moved, nor am I certain as to the validity of the rumor. However, even if in part any of this is true, Mr. Smith's callous actions may land him in jail ( or perhaps a hefty fine and suspicion on other MP's)

Posted 19 May 2017, 8:27 p.m. Suggest removal

SP says...

Why would Dion Smith need to be represented by a high profile QC if has nothing to hide? Who is paying for this QC.

Posted 19 May 2017, 7:12 p.m. Suggest removal

Truism says...

Why would anyone with half a brain turn them self into CDU without legal counsel? The silly season has ended and the stupid has begun.

Posted 19 May 2017, 9:41 p.m. Suggest removal

ThisIsOurs says...

Well, you'd have to have half a brain right?

Posted 20 May 2017, 3:48 a.m. Suggest removal

Truism says...

It's good to know that someone was finally motivated to read the story and discovered that Mr. Smith 'turned himself over to authorities accompanied by his attorney.' WOW

Posted 20 May 2017, 12:53 p.m. Suggest removal

bismark says...

Well if Mr Smith did nothing wrong then he has nothing to fear.

Posted 21 May 2017, 2:31 p.m. Suggest removal

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