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BAMSI Deputy awards son’s company, Kanoo, a fat contract

In a blatant conflict of interest, Deputy Chairman of Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute Olvin Rees used his influence to secure a BAMSI contract for Kanoo, a company chaired by his son Nicholas Rees.

Earlier this month, BAMSI signed an agreement with the digital payments provider to collect online payments, namely registration and tuition fees, on the behalf of the Andros-based facility.

Rees, who is a close friend of Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, was appointed as deputy chairman of BAMSI following the Free National Movement’s election win.

His son, Nicholas, is chairman of Kanoo, which is at the center of a controversy surrounding the travel health visa, which requires travelers to pay a $40 fee.

Bahamians continue to question why they are required to pay the $40 fee, which only includes a free rapid antigen test on the fifth day for locals, while visitors pay the same amount but receive health insurance coverage, free hotel stay, an allowance and emergency flight transportation if they contract Covid-19 during their stay.

Kanoo’s principals include Keith Davies, the Bahamas International Securities Exchange’s chief executive; Nicholas Rees as chairman; and its chief financial officer, Herbert Cash. Among the company’s directors is Dr Nigel Lewis, the Free National Movement’s (FNM) national campaign co-ordinator for the upcoming general election.

In light of Lewis’ connection to the governing party, the Ministry of Tourism entered a “sole source agreement” with Kanoo to collect health visa payments without a bidding process.

The Ministry claimed it didn’t have time to go through the proper procurement process but conveniently went with the company headed by politically-connected individuals.

This and the awarding of the BAMSI contract have raised serious red flags as some question whether the Minnis Administration is blatantly fattening the pockets of its members ahead of the General Election.

Why does BAMSI need Kanoo to collect fees on its behalf, all of a sudden?

The company is paid an undisclosed amount for each transaction, making wealthy political cronies even wealthier on the backs of Bahamians.

The government has failed to provide an adequate response to questions surrounding Kanoo and its relationship with the Minnis Administration.

So much for accountability and transparency.

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