Appeal Court upholds Frank Smith acquittal in corruption case

VICTORIOUS: Frank Smith (center) with former Prime Minister Perry Christie (left) and his father-in-law Sir Franklyn Wilson
NASSAU-The Court of Appeal Wednesday denied the prosecution’s bid for a new trial for former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Senator Frank Smith following his acquittal on bribery and extortion charges.
The tribunal rejected the prosecution’s arguments that the February 1 decision of the magistrate was flawed and erroneous in law, saying “there was an abundance of examples of doubtful testimony, which impelled the chief magistrate to her eventual conclusion.”
After the PLP’s defeat in the 2017 general election, Smith, 53, was charged with abusing his position as chairman of the Public Health Authority by demanding and receiving bribes totaling $60,000 from Barbara Hanna from April 2016 to 2017.
Smith and his supporters have said the prosecution was politically motivated.
Hanna’s company had been awarded a one-year contract to clean the critical care block of the Princess Margaret Hospital.
Hanna said Smith demanded $5,000 after she got her first cheque.
Initially, she thought the money was a one-time payment, but said she was shocked to learn that Smith expected $5,000 when she received her monthly cheque of $43,350.89.
She said that he should have told her beforehand , so that “I could put an additional $5,000 on the contract.”
But she claimed he told her this wasn’t possible because the contract had already been finalized.
A month before Hanna testified against Smith in November 2017, the governing Free National Movement (FNM) awarded her a $1.9 million contract to clean the hospital.
During her testimony, Hanna said she felt “pressured and used.” Hanna insisted that she didn’t initiate the complaint against Smith, but the police called her repeatedly.
She also admitted to calling Smith and warning him, “be careful, because they are out to get you.”
Deputy Director Neil Brathwaite said the Crown intends to seek leave to appeal to the Privy Council.
Outside court, Smith thanked God and his legal team, which was headed by Jamaican Queen’s Counsel K D Knight.