Airport Authority Board Answers Dionysio D’Aguilar

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18TH JUNE 2017
STATEMENT BY ANTHONY A. McKINNEY, QC, former Chairman of Nassau Airport Development Company Limited (“NAD”) in reply to Statements made in the House of Assembly by the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar, Minister of Tourism, Aviation & Bahamasair with respect to PatMor Limited (a tenant at the Lynden Pindling International Airport).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

1) When the Board took office on 1st July, 2012, PatMor was the tenant or lessee with respect to five (5) rental units in the Lynden Pindling International Airport. At this time, PatMor rent payment obligations to NAD were in arrears in the aggregate amount of $1.2M;

2) PatMor lodged a grievance with NAD that the rent charged was disproportionately higher than other tenants and requested that a review be conducted.

3) We found that PatMor was the only tenant in Terminal C (US Departure Lounge) paying interest/MAG ranging from 12% to 14.65%. Without any rational basis, this rate was significantly higher than the rate paid by all of the other tenants, who were paying approximately 10% interest/MAG;

4) The Board made enquiries and found that several of the Units rented to PatMor were originally rented to an entity owned by Tyrone Nabbie (“the Nabbie Leases”) and subsequently assigned to PatMor;

4) The Board was provided with information pertaining to the Nabbie Leases that caused it serious concerns;

5) From 2012, the Board and PatMor had discussions on a continual basis about its arrears of rent which culminated in a decision being made in 2105 that the NAD Management would refer the matter to an independent auditor to offer assistance on a fair resolution of the grievance;

6) To maintain independence, Messrs. Higgs & Johnson, the attorneys for NAD, were instructed to appoint an independent auditor, which they did.

7) In September, 2016, the parties considered the auditor’s recommendations and agreed the basic parameters for settlement of the outstanding grievance. The principal terms were:

(i) the sum of $1.2M from the total assessed rents would be written off;

(ii) the arrears of rent in the amount of $2.2M should be repaid on the following basis:

(a) the sum of $800,000 would be payable within 90 days after execution of the Deed of Settlement, which was to be prepared by NAD’s attorneys; and

(b) the balance of arrears and interest was to be repayable on terms to be further discussed and agreed.

(iii) The PatMor Unit Lease in Terminal C would automatically terminate at the end of February, 2017.

(iv) In the event of PatMor’s non-compliance with the terms of settlement, all of the remaining PatMor leases would be subject to termination.

8) During late January and early February, 2017, the parties finally agreed the remaining terms of settlement and referred the matter to their respective attorneys to engross the requisite deed of settlement.

9) The Deed of Settlement was signed in early March, 2017.

10) During the course of the negotiations with PatMor to resolve the outstanding rent dispute, there was no direction or instruction from the Minister of Transportation and Aviation or from any other Minister or politician directing the Board on how to proceed with the settlement discussions.

11) As Chairman of AA and NAD, I (and most, if not all, of the other Members) submitted our resignations to both Board on 16th May, 2017 or shortly thereafter.

12) I most definitely submitted my resignation to both the Hon. Frankie Campbell (Minister of Transport & Local Government) and the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar (Minister of Tourism and Aviation) on 16th May, 2017. I sent it to both Ministers as I was uncertain under which Ministry the NAD’s portfolio would be managed. A quote from my letter shows:

“As you are aware I was first appointed for one (1) year to act as Chairman of the Airport Authority on July 1, 2012. This appointment, by inference, meant that I would also act as Chair of the Nassau Airport Development Company Limited. As of today those appointments continue.

Technically, my current term as Chairman of the above Boards is due to expire on 30th June, 2017, however, protocol dictates that I should tender my resignation from both Boards at this time as my appointments were made by another Minister and Executive.”

13) By letter dated 17th May, 2017, the Minister of Transport & Local Government wrote to me in reply the following:

“I hereby acknowledge receipt of your correspondence dated 16th May, 2017, regarding the above-captioned subject.

Please be advised that the contents of this matter has been discussed with the Hon. Dionsio D’Aguilar, and we both agreed that you should continue as Chairman of the above Boards until Cabinet further advise.”

14) On 8th June, 2017, I was in communication with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation who enquired whether members of the Boards had tendered their resignations. I gathered from our conversation that Cabinet was prepared to proceed with their appointments. According, I wrote to the Honourable Minister of Tourism & Aviation to confirm my resignation. My letter contained in part the following:

“I refer to my letter dated 16th May, 2017 addressed jointly to the Hon. Frankie Campbell, Minister of Transport and Local Government and yourself, wherein I formally tendered my resignation from both Boards.

For the avoidance of doubt as of today’s date I hereby tender my resignation, with immediate effect, from the Boards of both the Airport Authority and the Nassau Airport Development Company Limited.”

15) I wholly disagree with the Minister’s statement in the House of Assembly on 15th June, 2017 regarding his characterization of the Board’s conduct with respect to the PatMor matter and well as with respect to the termination of our tenure as directors of AA and NAD.

16) A review of the correspondence, Board Minutes and records of AA and NAD would undoubtedly paint an entirely different, and more balanced, picture. It is egregiously unfair to call into issue the character and integrity of the Board members who gave 5 years of faithful service to the Country.