Photo above: Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne.
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda, Mar. 23, (CMC) – Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, has called on an opposition politician to spare the country the loss of scarce financial resources, by withdrawing an allegation he made regarding the disappearance of money from the Citizenship Investment Program (CIP).
Prime Minister Browne told legislators, that opposition Senator Damani Tabor’s claim that EC$500,000 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) had been missing from the CIP unit, is mischievous and that the government could save funds that are being used to pay Canadian-based financial forensic investigator, Robert Lindquist.
In February, the government enlisted the Christian Council to select someone to determine if the money was missing, as had been claimed by the opposition legislator.
“If it is that the person was being malicious, he can probably spare the nation the trouble, and just say it is not true and that he was being mischievous,” Browne said.
He told Parliament, that if the member of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) “does not relent and we have to spend tens of thousands of dollars …to do an investigation, then clearly that person will be guilty of public mischief and, if and when, found guilty, clearly there could be consequences,” Browne said.
He said, that he was extending “an olive branch to Mr. Tabor to come to the nation and let the people of Antigua and Barbuda know that you were being mischievous, that you have no evidence to that effect”.
‘We will still continue with the investigation but, at least, it could maybe shorten the duration of the investigation and save tax payers tens of thousands of dollars,” he added.
Under the Public Order Act, a person who is convicted of making false statements about public officials could face up to two years in jail.
Prime Minister Brown told legislators, that the police are investigating the allegation.
“We have also turned the matter over to the police, and I know that the police have been conducting investigations. They have interviewed members of the Treasury Department, including the Accountant General …and they have also interviewed the accountant at the CIP unit.”
He said, he understood that the only person whom the police have not yet been able to interview “is the individual who made the allegation”.
“I understand Mr. Speaker, he is in hiding,” Browne added.