FNM govt paid Jonathan Ash $1.2M after Gibson, Dorsett charged
The Minnis Administration agreed to pay prosecution witness Jonathan Ash $1.2 million after former PLP cabinet ministers Shane Gibson and Kenred Dorsett were charged in the Magistrates Court, the Gallery has learned.
Ash was the prosecution’s star witness in both cases of Gibson and Dorsett who were falsely accused of bribery.
After the two former MPs were arraigned, Ash - a notoriously shady businessman who was charged and convicted in 2020 - appeared to have been paid to testify against them.
Sources claim the FNM paid Ash $30,000 a month to lie on the witness stand.
Documents revealed that then-Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson signed a promissory note to Ash in the amount of $1.2 million but there were no invoices to explain the nature of the payment.
The payment breakdown included 12% VAT, a rate of taxation that took effect under the Minnis Administration.
This means Ash was not being paid for Hurricane Matthew cleanup work he performed under the Christie Administration which used a VAT rate of 7.5%. In order for the government to add 12% VAT to the payment, it had to be for a transaction that occurred after the Minnis Administration took office and raised the VAT rate in 2018.
Traditionally, financial secretaries and government officials do not sign promissory notes but rather make payments to individuals for services rendered after they submit invoices.
The fact that Johnson signed a promissory note suggests that the government was not paying Ash for services rendered.
Ash was widely discredited on the witness stand in the Gibson trial where his version of events did not add up. The jury clearly did not believe a word of his testimony and unanimously returned a not guilty verdict.
Following the botched Gibson trial - the second acquittal of a former PLP MP - the ruthless and vindictive Minnis Administration was in no rush to bring the Ken Dorsett case to trial.
Consequently, his case was in limbo for four years.
On Friday, the new acting director of public prosecutions tossed out charges against Dorsett as Ash was viewed as an unreliable witness. Officials also could not determine why the promissory note was signed.
In leaked audio of illegal joint meetings police held with Ash and their other key witness, Deborah Bastian, Bastian was heard describing Ash as a liar who was willing to do and say whatever it took for the government to unfreeze his bank accounts.
In April 2020, Ash was fined $7,000 for selling alcohol in breach of emergency orders enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 35-year-old was charged with violating the curfew and operating a non-essential business.
He was charged after videos went viral on social media, showing a liquor store selling alcohol to people who were violating the national curfew while a police car was parked outside.
Ash was not handcuffed when he arrived for his arraignment and raced up the steps of the Magistrates Court. He pleaded guilty to both charges.