NASSAU, The Bahamas, Tuesday April 25, 2017 – A Bahamian Government minister has come under scrutiny as details surface that he received over $94,000 from a high profile businessman that was deposited into a US bank account.
Labour and National Insurance Minister Shane Gibson admitted to receiving the funds between August 2011 and January 2013, but insists the transactions were above board.
Documents obtained by The Tribune newspaper detailed monthly deposits in the amount of $5,000 by Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard, a controversial permanent resident in the Bahamas prior to the 2012 general election and even after Gibson was appointed as a minister.
The majority of the payments, which totaled $94,131.10, were identified as compensation for professional services.
According to the Tribune, Gibson initially said the businessman paid the money “for no particular reason”. In a follow-up a statement, he claimed the money was used as a contribution to his 2012 election campaign and for community initiatives in the Golden Gates constituency, such as scholarship to students.
“Thanks to contributions from Mr Nygard and others, I, as a member of Parliament, was able to continue many community initiatives like a scholarship programme, awarding tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships to deserving students in my constituency whose parents could not afford to cover their full tuition.
“Additionally, Golden Gates was able to run a successful election campaign in the run-up to the 2012 general election. Following our victory at the polls, those contributions enabled me to pay off debt incurred during the campaign season. I think it is sad and unfortunate that those who oppose me would seek to tarnish something that has benefited so many people in my constituency simply to grab headlines and win a seat,” he said.
Gibson made it clear that he would not be distracted from serving his constituents.
While there are no laws governing election campaign financing in the Bahamas, the transaction is likely to be a major talking point ahead of the May 10 general election.
Nygard has reportedly made previous claims that he funded the election campaign of the Progressive Liberal Party – a claim that Gibson has denied.
Back in 2007, Gibson, who served as Immigration Minister, was forced to step down, after a scandal involving American actress and model Anna Nicole Smith, over his fast-tracking of her permanent residency in the Bahamas.