PM to meet with police chief, PS on Senegal scam
November 13, 2012

PM to meet with police chief, PS on Senegal scam

Commissioner of Police Keith Miller has accepted full responsibility for and will repay the Government the $9,904.12 lost to crooks in West Africa as a result of an Advance Fee Scheme.{{more}}

“I called the Commissioner. I asked him about this matter; he acknowledged right away that he is responsible, said straight off that he will make good the loss,” Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday.

“I am not sure how he will pay it, whether one-off or in instalments, but that is a matter between him and the Accounting Officer, who is Mr [Godfred] Pompey, the Permanent Secretary,” Gonsalves added.

Documents obtained by SEARCHLIGHT show that in October, the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force sent EC$9,439.12 by Western Union Money Transfer to persons in Senegal.

The police officers thought they were sending the money to pay for accommodation, insurance and visas for the commissioner, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Ruth Jacobs and Sergeant Junior Simmons, to attend a conference on Human Trafficking in Senegal.

After a fourth request for money, the commissioner became suspicious and sought the help of the United States Embassy in Barbados, who confirmed that he had been scammed.

In addition to the $9,439.12 sent to Senegal, $465 was paid to Western Union for sending charges.

The Prime Minister said the fact that the commissioner immediately accepted responsibility and indicated his willingness to repay the money, were in his favour.

“He said from the moment he realised it was a scam, he contacted the FBI, so all those are things in his favour, but obviously, it is a mistake which ought not to have been made.

“He acknowledges that.”

Gonsalves said while some may call for the resignation of Miller, there are mitigating factors in his favour.

“My response to that is we need to be proportionate. In any case, if you accept responsibility, you are paying it back, you get the FBI involved, all those things are mitigating factors in his favour. One has to be proportionate.”

The Prime Minister, however, said that while he had read the story about the scam in SEARCHLIGHT last week, he had not yet had a complete brief from the Commissioner and the Permanent Secretary as to what had transpired.

“Mr Pompey, the permanent secretary, is out of the country for this week, and there are some questions which I want to have clarified with him and I will speak further with the Commissioner in the presence of Mr Pompey when Mr Pompey returns,” Gonsalves said.

An Advance Fee Scheme occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value – such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift – and then receives little or nothing in return, the FBI website says.

The police officers had been offered free round trip airline tickets to Dakar, Senegal, as well as the possibility of receiving financial rewards for “group participants that distinguished themselves in their areas of discipline during these events.”