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New twist in Bahamas bribery and extortion trial

By Youri Kemp From caribbean News Now

NASSAU, Bahamas — A new Queens Counsel (QC) has been appointed to represent the Crown in former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Senator Frank Smith’s bribery and extortion trial, adding yet again another twist in the ongoing drama unfolding in the high profile case.

Outgoing prosecutor, Anthony Delaney, advised the court of the changes in the prosecution team, with the lead now English QC, Edward Jenkins.

Smith, appearing in court with his lawyer, Jamaican QC Keith Knight, also flanked by family members and former PLP parliamentarians, made no direct comment to the media about the changes and chose to speak through his lawyer, Knight.

Knight has called the effort by the Crown “shoddy” and that this change came at a late stage of the events leading up to the examination and cross-examination of the key witness, Barbara Hanna, owner of Magic Touch Cleaning Company.

Smith is facing 15 criminal charges concerning his alleged solicitation of $65,000 in bribes from Hanna between April 2016 and May 2017, who it is reported he assisted with getting a contract at the Public Hospital’s Authority (PHA) where he was also serving as chairman.

Hanna also appeared in court on Monday, after having missed an earlier appearance and causing a delay in the trial last year as a result of her suffering a mild stroke, even though photo evidence suggested she was out shopping on the day of the trial.

The trial has not been without its share of drama. It was also alleged that Hanna reached out to Smith and warned him that the new Free National Movement (FNM) government was out to get him and he should be careful. It was also reported that her company’s contract with the PHA was also renewed and extended back in October 2017.

Smith was formally charged in June, 2017 and is currently free on $50,000 bail. If convicted he faces up to seven years in prison. His trial is expected to resume on Wednesday.

He joins two other former PLP politicians accused of fraud and bribery – former minister of the environment and housing, Kenred Dorsette, and former minister for labour and the public service, Shane Gibson, both of whom are awaiting the conclusion of their trials.

Meanwhile, ongoing investigations into other alleged corruption, bribery and extortion cases are continuing. The Corruption Unit charged with investigating such offences told Caribbean News Now that they are doing their work diligently and that nothing else can be said to the public concerning the ongoing investigations and enquiries.

IMAGE: Frank Smith. Photo: Nassau Guardian

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