October 15, 2021

No jail time for Bahamas utility contract bribe taker

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fred_ramsey8By Artesia Davis Nassau Guardian Senior Reporter From Caribbean News Now

NASSAU, Bahamas — Disgraced businessman Fred Ramsey’s poor health was the only reason the 79-year-old was not jailed for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to steer government contracts to a French power company, a Bahamas Supreme Court judge said on Friday.

While a member of the board of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), Ramsey was paid $221,457 for his help in influencing the award of a contract for generators to Alstom Espana SA.

Justice Bernard Turner ordered Ramsey to return the “unjust enrichment” of his bribe payments to BEC or its successor within nine months. Turner said that, if the successor is no longer considered a public body, the money must be paid into the consolidated fund.

If the money is not paid, the judgment will be executed against real property in Ramsey’s name and he will have to spend six months in prison.

Turner also fined Ramsey $14,000 and gave him two months to pay that sum. Failure to pay the fine will result in an additional six-month sentence.

Ramsey was allowed to remain on bail following his May 3 conviction on 12 counts of bribery and two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, but Justice Bernard Turner warned him that this did not mean that he would not receive a custodial sentence.

In the end, Turner weighed heavily on a medical report submitted by Dr Clyde Munnings, a consultant neurologist, who treated Ramsey for a stroke in March 2015.

Munnings said that a period of incarceration would aggravate Ramsey’s hypertension and could result in further strokes, a heart attack or death,

Turner told Ramsey, “Were it not for the state of your health, you could have very well found yourself from here on the way to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.”

He faced a maximum of four years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

At a sentencing hearing last month, Ramsey’s attorney, Wayne Munroe QC, said that the public humiliation that Ramsey had endured, the loss of his insurance licence and the revocation of his US travel visa was sufficient punishment.

On Friday Turner said, “His own humiliation is well-deserved – a sentence self-imposed.”

Ramsey’s misdeeds were uncovered after a Connecticut court ordered Alstom to pay $775 million in fines under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for falsifying its books and failing to implement adequate internal controls. The company had pleaded guilty to the charges in a federal court. The US Justice Department’s investigation revealed that Alstom covered its tracks by hiring middlemen to offer bribes to government officials around the world and in The Bahamas.

Turner said the subsequent investigation had hurt the country’s reputation and had cast suspicion on other board members and senior BEC officials.

DPP Garvin Gaskin had argued that a custodial sentence was mandatory, arguing that the only discretion left to the court was the length of the sentence.

Turner advised both parties of their right to appeal.

IMAGE: Former Bahamas Electricity Corporation board member Fred Ramsey (centre) smiled as he exited the Supreme Court on Friday. Photo: Ahvia J. Campbell

For more on this story go to: http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-No-jail-time-for-Bahamas-utility-contract-bribe-taker-31031.html

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