Former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis asked Lanisha Rolle to step down from her post as Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture in 2021, but stopped short of having her prosecuted to avoid embarrassment to his administration, according to Free National Movement (FNM) insiders.
Minnis, who tried to have three of his political opponents jailed within months of coming to office then declared to the world that The Bahamas is corrupt, was not prepared to deal with the political fallout of having one of his own ministers ensnared in corruption controversy, according to those close to him.
The audit of Rolle’s ministry, which was ordered by Minnis, featured prominently in a police investigation of Rolle.
Therefore, Minnis was well aware of the auditor’s concerns about over $700,000 in questionable contracts awarded to the same pool of vendors under Rolle’s watch.
Minnis sought to distance himself from the alleged wrongdoing instead of admitting that alleged corruption had taken place in his administration.
This, despite his 2017 warning to his new cabinet that he would not tolerate impropriety of any kind.
“Good and open government demands transparency and accountability. Good governance demands being responsible for our actions. Accordingly I will hold ministers to the highest standards of ethical conduct in performance of their public duties,” Minnis said in May 2017 during the swearing in of 15 of his cabinet ministers at Government House.
“And I want to send a message to my ministers: Should you engage in unsavoury or unethical requests to the permanent secretaries and I discover or find this out, you will immediately be fired.
“And I say to the permanent secretaries should you not report such behaviour and allow it to fester, you too will be fired.”
Shortly after Minnis received the audit report in 2021, Rolle resigned.
Cabinet Office released a statement, which said “certain matters have been brought to the attention of the prime minister and are under investigation.”
Minnis later denied his former minister was being investigated but it did nothing to silence questions about why a minister would resign out of the blue then be denied a nomination to run as a candidate by her party.
Rolle, her husband and three others have since been arraigned in court on corruption-related charges, including bribery and conspiracy to commit fraud by false pretenses.
They have denied the charges against them and have been granted bail with conditions.