Photo: Jamaica Observer

NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) – Bahamian legislator, Peter Turnquest, has resigned from the Dr Hubert Minnis-led administration.

Turnquest, in a letter on Wednesday said that he was stepping down as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in the wake of what he claimed to be “unfounded and untrue claims” against him.

He however stated that he will continue to serve as  Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama.

The moves follow a statement of claim that was filed in the Supreme Court last week.

According to the statement, Turnquest and his Sky Bahamas business partner Captain Randy Butler, “dishonestly caused” Alpha Aviation and Advanced Aviation to “pay away” US$20.68m and US$5.917m respectively to the airline via “some kind of bogus loans”.

In his letter of resignation the legislator said  “It has been my great honour and privilege to serve my country in public office. I have done so with total fidelity and adherence to the tenets of our democracy and the Westminster conventions by which we are guided.”

“As consequence of all the unfounded and untrue claims that that have been circulating in the mainstream press as well as in social media, to protect my family, and in the best interest of my constituency and my party, I have offered my resignation as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to the prime minister with immediate effect.”

“My focus as Minister of Finance has been to deepen our democracy by enacting legislation that reformed and modernised the management of our economy and the public’s finances. I am confident in the team of young men and women at the Ministry of Finance who will continue that work.

Turnquest added that he met with the prime minister and informed him that he is confident that “once the allegations against me have been fully ventilated through the courts, my reputation of transparency and accountability will be vindicated. I did not want a private business dispute, which occurred prior to my taking public office, to become a distraction to the Government, or to the important national work that lies ahead.”

“Our nation is undergoing an unprecedented time in its history. We are fighting a global pandemic, resulting in unprecedented economic challenges and a difficult road ahead to maintain stability and recovery. We must all continue to commit to doing our part.

“I look forward to putting this matter behind me and continuing to encourage modernisation and reform in our country to which, I remain so grateful for allowing me to serve.

“At an appropriate time, I will have more formal comments to make in regards to the circumstances of the allegations made against me and the actors that have perpetuated it.”

In response, Minnis said that he accepted Turnquest’s resignation and thanked him for his service.

“I have accepted the resignation of the Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest, effective immediately. I thank Mr Turnquest for his service to The Bahamas, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic”

The prime minister said that he will serve as interim Minister of Finance and will make a “substantive appointment in due course.”