More collateral damage in the train-wreck saga of Anna Nicole Smith.
Shane Gibson resigned as immigration minister of the Bahamas Sunday amid intensifying allegations that he gave the late Playmate special treatment in her quest for permanent residency in the island nation.
The announcement came a week and half after Smith's death and just six days after the Tribune of Nassau published front-page photos of Gibson embracing Smith while they were in bed.
Although the two were fully clothed and Gibson insisted the shots were snapped by Smith companion Howard K. Stern in good fun, the images provided more fodder for critics of the immigration minister, who say he improperly fast-tracked Smith and Stern's residency applications. The two became citizens last year, shortly before the September birth of Smith's daughter, Dannielynn, and the death of her son, Daniel.
"I want to apologize to all persons who may in any way have been offended by anything that I have said, done, or perceived to have said or done," Gibson said on state TV Sunday night. "To the extent that my beloved country has in any way suffered...I want to apologize to the Bahamian people as a whole."
Gibson did deny any wrongdoing, however, swearing that he did not have a sexual relationship with Smith. He called such allegations "vicious and wicked lies."
"I unconditionally deny that I ever abused my ministerial office by granting Anna Nicole Smith any permit of which she was undeserving or for which she was not qualified under the laws of the Bahamas," he said.
Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie said he agreed with Gibson's move. “However sad Shane's decision to resign may be, I also believe, as does he, that it is the correct course of action for him to take in all of the circumstances," Christie said.
Smith, who died Feb. 8 at age 39 in Hollywood, Florida, applied for Bahamian residency based on her ownership of a waterfront mansion in the Bahamas. Since her application, however, her ownership of the abode has been challenged.
G. Ben Thompson, a former paramour of Smith, says he did not give her the house as a gift, as Smith and Stern claimed, and is attempting to reclaim the $900,000 property.
Stern remains ensconced there with Dannielynn pending a court hearing on the ownership status next week.
Stern is expected to testify Tuesday in a Florida case concerning the disposition of Smith's remains. He wants Smith laid to rest in the Bahamas next to Daniel. The model's mother, Virgie Arthur, wants Smith buried in her native Texas. Smith's body was embalmed over the weekend and remains under lock in the coroner's office.
Stern is also battling several other men, including Los Angeles photographer Larry Birkhead and Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, for paternity of the baby. Depending on how the inevitable court fight over Smith's will plays out, Dannielynn appears to be in line to inherit the bulk of Smith's estate, potentially including millions of dollars from Smith's late husband, oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II.
Meanwhile, officials in the Bahamas are still planning an inquest into Daniel Smith's death. The 20-year-old died in September, three days after Dannielynn's birth. A private pathologist hired by Anna Nicole Smith said the young man died of heart failure triggered by a fatal combination of methadone and painkillers.