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Archive for Bahamas

Newsline: Bahamas’ Embassy in Brussels spent over $600,000 on furniture

An audit into the Bahamas’ Embassy in Brussels, Belgium found that over $600,000 of taxpayer’s money was spent on furniture purchases for the official residence. The report was one of several audits that looked into the financial operations of Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ embassies, consulate general offices and a permanent mission. “During our audit, we noted furniture purchased for the official residence in the amount of 472, 427.80 EUR or $614,156.14,” Auditor General Terrance Bastian said in an audit conducted between November 1, 2019, and July 7, 2022. (http://www.tribune242.com/news/2022/oct/20/600000-furniture-embassy/?news) Labour and Immigration Minister Keith Bell first raised alarm about the extravagant purchases in Parliament in June, accusing the Minnis administration of the “indiscriminate callous haemorrhage” of the public purse. At the time, he said more than $1m was spent on lavish items for an ambassador’s apartment in Europe, including middle chairs that cost nearly $40,000, a rug at $18,475, $14,000 for a lamp and $10,000 for a mahogany scroll among other costly purchases. In view of the findings, auditors recommended that the ministry establish policies for the purchasing of furnishings for all residents and embassies, consulate, etc, and noted that ambassadors should not solely be responsible for these functions but through consultations with the ministry.

Newsline: Three more Haitian diplomats at Nassau embassy recalled for “wrongdoing”

At least six diplomats at the Haitian Embassy in Nassau have been recalled or transferred as the Haitian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reportedly prepares to eventually replace all personnel at the embassy following a Haitian commission of inquiry into concerns of corruption. According to The Haiti Sentinel, which translated in English an original article by Le Nouvelliste on the recall, Haitian Foreign Affairs Minister Bocchit Edmond told the Le Nouvelliste that the commission’s report revealed “unacceptable situations” at the embassy. (https://ewnews.com/three-more-haitian-diplomats-at-nassau-embassy-recalled-for-wrongdoing) The commission completed its investigation earlier this month, according to international reports. Edmond reportedly told the Le Nouvelliste that several diplomats were involved in wrongdoing either directly or indirectly involved in wrongdoing, namely regarding a residence visa scheme in The Bahamas.

Newsline: Haiti Inquiry Into Nassau Embassy ‘Corruption’

The Haitian Government has launched a commission of inquiry into concerns of corruption at its embassy in Nassau. The commission arrives today and will meet with Bahamian officials, diplomatic staff, local recruits and community leaders to conduct investigations until August 3. (http://www.tribune242.com/news/2019/jul/29/haiti-inquiry-embassy-corruption/) It was announced in a press statement released by Haiti’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the weekend. The ministry’s statement referred to a news report of an important investigation carried out by Bahamian authorities on corruption involving Haitian diplomats in Nassau, printed on July 25. It further advised Haitian diplomats that their mission was to project a positive image of the country, and to behave in a manner above reproach. The move has come as a surprise to embassy staff, according to Herns Mesamours, head consular officer from the Haitian Embassy. Mr Mesamours told The Tribune the statement was responding to media coverage of an arraignment of three Bahamians and two Haitians accused of a fraudulent marriage scheme.

Newsline: Bahamas embassy in Haiti closes as unrest continues

The Bahamas’ embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, remained closed following countrywide protests that began over the weekend, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield, who advised against travel to the country until calm has returned. Unrest has been steadily brewing for months over allegations that billions of dollars in foreign aid was embezzled or misused by former government officials under former Haitian President Michel Martelly. “The Bahamas follows the protocols of the United Nations’ missions to Haiti,” Henfield told reporters. “Following that protocol and after speaking with the ambassador and our personnel on the ground, we decided to close the mission yesterday (Monday), [and] today, I think. That’s where we are [as] apparently, there is civil unrest. Bahamasair has also suspended service to the impoverished country.


Newsline: Bahamas Embassy Driver Paid $46k Overtime in Washington

Bahamas audits looking into the operations of Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ embassies, consulate general offices and a permanent mission, has pointed to apparent loose protocols where there is “excessive” overtime pay, “exorbitant” spending and thousands in uncollected revenue among other shortfalls. At the Bahamas Embassy in Washington, DC, the ambassador’s chauffeur was paid $46,883.13 in overtime during a three-year period from 2014 to 2016, while at the Bahamas Consulate General’s office in DC, the messenger/driver received overtime amounting to $21,534.92. Auditors said at the embassy in DC, officials paid a company $22,484 for an event, but the entity did not perform the duties which were agreed upon. And at the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, over a period of two year – July 2014 to June 2015 and July 2015 to June 2016 – a total of $28,291.34 was spent to accommodate the hosting of diplomatic and promotional events.


Newsline: Former US Ambassador in Nassau had ‘dysfunctional leadership’

The American Embassy in Nassau is now in the process of stabilising itself following “an extended period of dysfunctional leadership” presided over by former Ambassador Nicole Avant, a published US Department of State report claimed. The report painted a picture of a US Ambassador who spent extensive time outside of The Bahamas during her tenure and who contributed to shortcomings throughout the Embassy in Nassau. In the report, the US State Department emphasised that during Ambassador Avant’s time in office “cables written (show) little political reporting or analysis on international crime, drug smuggling, and illegal migration or on prevention of terrorism.” A lack of confidence in local medical providers was also noted as Embassy employees thought ambulance services to be unreliable, the report states. There was also a general feeling, the report said, that medical care of any kind could not be obtained locally. An inspection of the Nassau-based Embassy was conducted from September 29 to October 12, 2011, by the Inspector General, just weeks before Ms Avant presented then Governor General Arthur Hanna with her credentials, signifying a soon ending term. Ms Avant left the country on November 22, 2011 after a two-year-tour of duty. Since then, Ms Avant, according to a January 31 White House Press Pool Report, has been extremely active in the Obama campaign as she hosted a fundraising dinner at her home for the second term hopeful. However, the report published in January 2012 and based on interviews with employees, officials of various governmental agencies, direct observations, and embassy records partly credited Ms Avant with the Embassy’s shortcomings. The report said: “The Ambassador had not had frequent policy-level interaction with the Department or other Washington agencies.” In addition, the report noted that Ms Avant’s lack of regular contact due to “her extensive travel out of the country and preference to work from the Ambassador’s residence for a significant portion of the work day, contributed to a perception of indifference.” Ms Avant was absent for 276 days during a 670-day period from November 19, 2009 to September 19, 2011. An average of 12 days per month, the report said. A further break-down showed that 84 days were non-work which included weekends and holidays with 102 personal leaves. Ms Avant also travelled to the US for 77 work days on what she identified as business. Only 23 of them have been identified as official travel orders.