Former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis says he has been interviewed by the police as part of an extensive criminal investigation into his administration’s coronavirus (COVID-19) food assistance program.
Minnis, who left office in September 2021 after his Free National Movement government lost the general election, told the Tribune newspaper that three senior officers had earlier this year interviewed him for over an hour.
He said police gave him the option to be questioned at a police station or at a neutral location, but that he chose a neutral location in the company of his lawyer.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Leamond Deleveaux, has since confirmed that more than 75 people have so far been interviewed as the probe continues even as he insisted that Minnis is not a suspect.
“He was seen as a witness. He provided us with information but he is not a suspect and he was seen only because he was the Prime Minister at the time,” said Deleveaux.
The Phillip Davis-led government has said in the past that the food program lacked proper oversight.
“It would appear that the Davis administration, because of its poor governance and lack of agenda for this country, is looking for deflection from its governance and tax spend,” Minnis told the Tribune newspaper.
“Let it be known that I will not be used nor will I be a deflection. And if the police want to question me again, they can call me at any time.
“I was not disturbed at all because I knew that throughout my governance I was very transparent and honest with the Bahamian people and if we face a similar disaster, I will ensure again the Bahamian people receive the necessary tools and equipment for their survival,” Minnis added.
Last month, Davis accused an unnamed non-profit organization of going on a spending spree, buying two high-end trucks and boats with public funds that were meant to provide food assistance during the pandemic.
But Hubert Minnis praised the program and the person who headed the initiative, Susan Larson.
“They utilized the services of NGOs and ensured that individuals throughout the length and breadth of The Bahamas were provided with food at a time when it was needed most.
“People received the food in an orderly and humane fashion as opposed to what was seen throughout other countries of the world where there was mass demonstrations and unrest for food. We avoided that because of the manner in which the NGOs and Susan Larson and those had functioned. I am proud of that grouping.”
The former prime minister warned his successor and “those are on a witch-hunt” that “they must be very, very careful.”