Eustace : Gonsalves looking for sympathy
February 15, 2013

Eustace : Gonsalves looking for sympathy

If the prime minister wants to operate in the gutter, he is free to do so — Arnhim Eustace will not join him there. This is the response of the Leader of the Opposition to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ comment that Eustace was “nasty” for bringing his (Gonsalves’) 93-year-old mother into the St Vincent Building and Loan issue.{{more}}

At a press conference on Monday, the Leader of the Opposition stated that he had been reliably informed that funds in excess of EC$1 million, held at Building and Loan in the name of Theresa Francis, mother of Gonsalves, were withdrawn in full in the final months of 2012.

However, in his response to Eustace’s claim, the prime minister said that the account had been opened by his parents many years ago, and he did not know that the money had been withdrawn.

“My mother and father had an account there from the 1940s, I believe. When my father died in 2001, my mother became the sole beneficiary of the account and then she put my two brothers’ names, so that it is not a part of my father’s estate of which I am a beneficiary,” Gonsalves explained in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Monday.

He told SEARCHLIGHT that when he checked with his brother on Monday, after hearing what the Opposition Leader had said, he learned that the money had been withdrawn on October 1, 2012.

“What is special about October? I knew nothing about what they (the brothers) were doing.

“The issue is this; this is a withdrawal which took place on October 1, before Luke [Browne] had written his letter…,” he said.

A letter, written by economist Luke Browne titled “Is Building and Loan on the brink of collapse” was published in a local newspaper on January 18. The letter, which caused a run on the Association, questions the financial stability and governance of the financial institution.

“Mr Eustace is nasty…it is plain worthless for woman in a wheelchair, who is 93 and who has Alzheimer’s, to drag her name in this thing, in a matter in which I have nothing to do with it,” Gonsalves said.

But while speaking on Nice Radio on Tuesday, Eustace said that the prime minister said a lot of things about his mother, including her age and that she suffers from Alzheimer’s and that his two brothers were the signatories to the account.

But the Leader of the Opposition said all that he (Eustace) had mentioned the day before was that Theresa Francis had withdrawn a quantity of money.

Eustace added that he never disclosed the month the withdrawal was made, nor did he say under whose name the funds were withdrawn.

“All this thing about his mother’s health and so on, he is just looking for sympathy,” the Leader of the Opposition said.

The issue rather, is that a quantity of money was taken out prior to the Financial Services Authority’s takeover of the Building and Loan Association on February 1, Eustace said.

“Some people don’t see any difference…there must be some concern about that and such a large sum of money.

“So, I just want to make that clear; all the things about wheelchair and Alzheimer’s the people don’t care about that — that doesn’t change the fact that the money was withdrawn and at a time when you are encouraging persons to save with the Building and Loan Association,” Eustace said. (DD)