PM Gonsalves refutes mollycoddling allegation
February 19, 2013

PM Gonsalves refutes mollycoddling allegation

Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that he has never and does not intend to engage in any mollycoddling with foreign investors.{{more}}

“I don’t know what agenda people have with Dave Ames in the UK, but don’t drag me into something which I have nothing to do with,” he said.

“To tell me you come to St Vincent and the Grenadines since Monday or Tuesday, you didn’t try to get in touch with me at my office or anybody there, you saw Eustace (Leader of the Opposition) on Wednesday,” Gonsalves, referring to two BBC journalists, continued.

And Eustace, according to what he (Gonsalves) was told by another gentleman last Thursday, who claimed that he saw the video, said that Gonsalves accepted $1 million from Ames.

The prime minister while speaking on a radio programme on Monday morning, said that the gentleman informed him that the money was paid to Gonsalves for Ames to obtain Vincentian citizenship and other things.

“Why would a man with a UK passport would want a Vincentian passport is beyond me,” Gonsalves said, then explained that Ames received citizenship completely in keeping with the laws of the country as a foreign investor making investments in the country for about five years.

And then there was the incident of him being accosted by the two BBC journalists who said that they have evidence that Ames came with a quantity of money in a carrying case.

“When is this ridiculous nonsense going to stop?” Gonsalves asked.

“I mean they can have 100 witnesses, but they cannot prove something which has never taken place – everybody who knows me knows that I wouldn’t take money.

“I didn’t receive, neither was I given even one red cent by Dave Ames, so I don’t know what they are getting at,” the prime minister said.

Gonsalves said that he did not know where the allegation started, whether it stemmed from a fall out between an associate and Ames, but that those involved kept perjuring themselves.

“I have been a political activist for over forty-something years – nobody ever made an accusation like that against me and everybody who knows me know that I will not compromise my office in that sort of a way,” Gonsalves said.

Due to the value of the investment, he said that a number of incentives were offered, but that would be true for any major investment, based on the return to the country.

But there were no special opportunities afforded to the Buccament Resort or to Ames and his group, according to Gonsalves.

He referred to an instance when there were arrears on the electricity bill for the resort, whether by reason of improper management or cash flow problems, but he had given instructions that the company be dealt with in the same manner as any other in the land.

The issue did not reach the point where they were disconnected from service.

Same too, when residents were complaining of lack of access to the beach, Gonsalves said that he dealt with that matter emphatically.

“So, this idea that Dave Ames is being mollycoddled by the government is absolute rubbish.”

He said that he is aware that Ames was having some issues with various persons, including contractors and investors; there were also some problems with the payment of other locals to which he said he contacted the resort’s management and requested that they deal with the issue.

“But that has nothing to do with me, that’s their problem,” Gonsalves said.

He reiterated the point that he has never mollycoddled any investor.

“We provide incentives, do our checks…,” he said.

“It’s just ridiculous…and the NDP are working with them in this sullying of the good name of the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

He said that he received a call from a female journalist who informed him that Opposition Senator Vynnette Frederick had been contacting journalists to try to get hold of him (prime minister) to get him to comment on the issue and that it was a relative of Frederick who took the journalists down to the Buccament Resort.

The prime minister called on the Vincentian public to put their political differences aside and protect the name of the country.

He referred to two allegations while he was in the opposition, the first that Eustace had received money from Nano, owner of an offshore bank operating in the country then – a bribe that Nano claims Eustace never repaid, Gonsalves said.

“That was the allegation and Eustace denied that and that is enough for me,” Gonsalves said.

The other involved allegations that a top political figure and police officer were involved in money laundering.

Gonsalves explained that he was invited by the then United States Ambassador who had inquired about the allegation.

Gonsalves said that he told the US officials, who included the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), that unless they provided him with evidence that they should stop spreading rumours.

“They were going on gossip and hearsay to sully the name of the country; now we will see what position they are taking.

“The ULP intends to defend the integrity and name of the political leader, because they know when I tell them what is being said with this allegation is a lie – it is false,” Gonsalves said. (DD)