Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn has accused Government of getting into bed with White Oak Advisory without Cabinet approval and carrying out due diligence.
In a heated presentation which was interrupted on several occasions by Government senators Lucille Moe, Rudy Grant and Kay McConney, the Opposition senator lambasted the ruling party for “giving away $27 million” to the financial advisory firm and demanded that someone should resign over it.
“A mere couple of days after the Government has changed a contract is signed. First of all there was no Cabinet in place to approve this. You have taken 27 million of our dollars and given it to people for information that you could gotten from the whole lot of people here who you have given consultancies to.”
The trade unionist pointed out that what took place was against the good governance and transparency laws under which Government has committed to adhere.
“This is not the only company in the world that does this kind of business so if Government wanted to do something above board they would have put it out to tender and in accordance with the legislation we passed here last year and what existed previously.
“The only way you would do this is if they were one of a kind and their services were unique. But we didn’t do that we went and select some people who eventually turn out to be fleecing this country and there is a lot of defence about it. But there shouldn’t be defence there should be resignations.”
Franklyn was speaking in the Upper House during a debate which included the Charities Bill 2019, the Companies Amendment Bill 2019, the Corporate Trust Service Providers Bill 2019, Financial Services Commission Bill 2019 and the Money Laundering and Finance of Terrorism Control Amendment Bill 2019.
Speaking directly to the Companies Bill the senator said: “I am happy to see that Government is insisting on annual returns…Government is putting things in place for annual returns in Barbados but seek to do business with companies outside of Barbados that fail to file their annual returns with other corporate industries, let’s say in the United Kingdom.
Franklyn continued: “….I have here a copy of a letter from the office in England saying they will strike off White Oak Advisory if they fail to file their annual returns. We are not doing our due diligence. Government jumped into bed with a company who they know nothing about, that the corporate office in England knows nothing about. That is the problem I have. And we are spending all of our money making a company that is resident outside of Barbados that is failing to comply with the laws of England. But we want to put those same laws in place for Barbados. That is hypocrisy.”
The senator said the Opposition was promised a chance to interview White Oak and even after frequent trips to the country no such meeting has occurred.
“They promised that the Opposition Leader would interview White Oak when they came back to Barbados. They come and they gone and they never told us anything. We had that assurance from the Prime Minister that they would allow the Leader of the Opposition and his two senators to speak to White Oak. We haven’t gotten that chance yet and now we discover from the newspapers in England that is it a scam. We are allowing this country to be fleeced by charlatans.”
In response to repeated interruptions from Government Senators Franklyn said: “We are putting in place laws that say companies in Barbados must do certain things that it is international best practise and we are dealing with a company that failed to do what we are insisting local companies must do.
“Government is uncomfortable with the topic of White Oak because they are ashamed that they have been found out. The dealing that the Government of Barbados has had with White Oak is less than above board, less than transparent.”