Gibson lashes FNM over NIB
ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: May 11, 2013
Minister of Labour and National Insurance Shane Gibson said yesterday it was “disgraceful” for Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis to attempt to justify why social security money was used to pay hefty bonuses at NIB.
“I am just shocked that Dr. Hubert Minnis, who I have the highest respect for, would say something like that,” said Gibson, who was a guest on “Darold Miller Live” on Guardian Radio 96.9 FM.
“You could imagine [NIB Director Algernon Cargill], whose salary is $172,000, made $140,000 in bonus. That’s only one year.
“And for the leader of the Opposition to come on national radio and give the impression that there is nothing wrong with it, I cry shame on that.
“That is disgraceful. Customs officers could say ‘listen here, we are at the borders collecting money and we collected all the money, now give us a bonus’.”
As previously reported, eight NIB executives and one person on contract collectively received bonuses of $723,333 between January 2010 and May 2012, with Cargill taking home $194,791.66 in bonuses during that period, according to information on NIB’s files.
“These things are shocking,” Gibson said.
“They had a checkbook that was sitting in the drawer of one of the secretaries. The bonuses were not paid and sent to the bank like everything else.
“A check was written. It was sent to the bank and then under separate cover it was deposited to this one account to move on to the next. And then under separate cover, a letter would go out telling the bank how to distribute the bonuses.
“They kept it a secret among a couple of people. I am not going to say who signed the checks, but when you look at the checks there are basically only two persons signing the checks.”
The NIB report, completed by Grant Thornton chartered accountants, found no evidence the bonuses and salaries paid to executive management personnel were approved by the minister responsible, who was former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
Accountants did not interview Ingraham as part of their audit.
Minnis, who was a guest on “Darold Miller Live” on Tuesday, admitted he had not yet read the report. He said bonuses may have been paid based on the amount of revenue generated.
But Gibson said NIB is not designed that way and no one working there should have a private sector mentality regarding remuneration.
“It is unfortunate that it took the government to change before those things were exposed,” Gibson said.
“Those bonuses were being paid for a while. I just believe that it is absolutely disgraceful that social security monies were used to pay bonuses.
“It is not like a private company where you generate profits. The only thing you are doing is what you are paid to do.”
Before details on the NIB report were revealed by The Nassau Guardian, Minnis said he believed the government planned to use the report as ammunition against the former administration.
He said he believed the report reflected that they were on the “right track”.
Gibson expressed a completely different opinion based on the findings in the report.
“They manipulated the system; a way of life for the Free National Movement is manipulation,” he said.
He also took FNM Chairman Darron Cash to task.
In The Tribune this week, Cash was quoted as asking, “Where is the beef?”
He demanded that Gibson reveal the much touted “shocking” details of the probe.
“When Darron Cash says to you show me the beef, I am not surprised because if you look throughout their tenure in administration, their tenure is based on manipulation, and so it is just another day at the office.
“The man who has not built his tenure off manipulation looks at that and says how could you do that, how could you manipulate people to do these things?”
Gibson was referring to irregularities in the award of certain NIB contracts for various projects, as reported by accountants looking into NIB’s affairs.
Cargill has until May 21 to report to the board of NIB, after which the board would recommend how to proceed with or without his input, Gibson reiterated.
He has promised to table the report in Parliament and to detail the cost of the NIB audit.
The director remains on suspension.