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Breaking News:

Former MP in custody

Police questioning Smith in BAIC theft probe
  • Dion Smith.

ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
royston@nasguard.com

Published: May 19, 2017

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Former Nassau Village MP Dion Smith was taken into police custody yesterday for questioning in connection to an ongoing alleged theft investigation at the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC), police said.

Smith was the corporation’s executive chairman prior to the change in government last week.

He was also deputy speaker of the House of Assembly.

Senior Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dean confirmed Smith turned himself in and was “under arrest”.

Dean said he was being questioned at the Central Detective Unit (CDU) and would likely be held overnight.

The development came two days after seven BAIC employees were detained for questioning over the alleged theft that took place on the day of the election, according to authorities.

An eighth employee was being questioned over the matter as of Wednesday.

Those employees have since been released pending further investigation.

According to police, electronic items including computers and television sets were allegedly stolen.

The Nassau Guardian understands some of the items were subsequently returned.

Attorney Wayne Munroe represents the employees and Smith.

Speaking to The Nassau Guardian last night, Munroe claimed on the afternoon of the election last Wednesday, Smith took a speaker and personal television to BAIC to watch the election results.

Munroe said when it became clear to Smith that he had lost the Nassau Village seat around 8 p.m., he left the corporation.

“At that point he had not packed up his personal belongings; he had been chairman of BAIC for three years,” he said.

“And so, he told them (several employees) to take his personal belongings and they left.”

Smith left the country on Thursday and returned on Sunday, according to his attorney.

However, Munroe said a rumor circulated on Thursday that Smith had been at BAIC removing items.

He said he understands that when BAIC was checked it was determined that nothing was missing.

Five days after the election, seven BAIC employees, whom Munroe said he understands are PLP supporters, were arrested for questioning.

“At that time the allegation was that there was a television, a CPU (central processing unit) and files missing,” said Munroe, a queen’s counsel who lost his bid for the Freetown seat for the PLP.

“When police questioned them, they questioned them about a CPU, a television and some $15 plug-in Logitech speakers.

“Nothing about files. And they had seized two televisions from one of the young women, which they returned.

“That was the position at that time.

“At that time, no one indicated that they needed to speak with Mr. Smith.

“...Today, it was indicated that they needed to see him and so, of course we went in to the police.”

Munroe said in order to be questioned Smith had to be arrested, which he complied with.

He said Smith was questioned about a series of things beyond the television and CPU.

According to Munroe, police escorted Smith to his headquarters where he (Smith) identified the television and speaker.

Police confiscated the speaker and television “for BAIC to have a look and say is this its property”, Munroe said.

Authorities also visited Smith’s home to inspect his personal belongings.

Munroe expressed concern about what he called a dangerous precedent.

He said whenever there is a change in government, the outgoing people must take their property.

He claimed outgoing parliamentary secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister on Abaco Renardo Curry did not remove his belongings following the election and subsequently met them packed on the sidewalk outside the building.

When contacted about Smith’s arrest, PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts declined to comment.

In a statement yesterday, interim leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Philip Brave Davis expressed concern about the manner and treatment of the employees by police.

The statement did not mention the former executive chairman.

His statement was published on his Facebook page yesterday afternoon.

Davis compared the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s (RBPF) handling of the matter to the state police of Nazi Germany, claiming officers stormed the corporation with guns like the “gestapo”.

He called on the force and the government to explain the matter so as not to give the public the impression the new administration was directing the RBPF to conduct a witch hunt.

Smith was appointed executive chairman of BAIC in January 2015.

He succeeded Arnold Forbes, the former Mount Moriah MP.

 


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