BBC Panorama told that allegations of bribery are ‘unfounded, false and baseless’
March 15, 2013

BBC Panorama told that allegations of bribery are ‘unfounded, false and baseless’

The number of occasions on which Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is alleged to have met with Harlequin developer Dave Ames, during which money is alleged to have “changed hands”, has increased from one, to three.{{more}}

Matthew Chapman, a producer of the BBC television programme Panorama, in a February 26 email to Gonsalves, said in the course of their research into one of their television programmes, they were told of three meetings between Ames and Gonsalves during which “Mr Ames arrived with a substantial amount of currency (USD) and left the respective meetings without these monies”.

Chapman said the programme being researched by the BBC is looking at how pensioners from the United Kingdom who have invested in Harlequin Properties may face, in some cases, losing their pension savings because properties they have invested in have failed to materialise.

According to Chapman’s email, the three meetings allegedly took place in January, March and June 2011. The first two meetings allegedly took place at the Prime Minister’s official residence, and at the office of lawyer Samuel Commissiong, respectively. The location of the third meeting is not specified.

Describing the allegations as “unfounded, false and baseless”, the Prime Minister, in his response to Chapman, dated March 7, reaffirmed that he has “never sought or received one cent from Harlequin and/or Mr Ames; I have never sought or received even an election campaign or political contribution from Mr Ames and/or Harlequin; I have never granted an investment concession or incentive to Harlequin and/or Mr Ames in return for any payment from them…”

The Prime Minister had reported to the nation that on February 17, he was “accosted” on a LIAT flight, which had just landed in Barbados, by two journalists from the BBC television show Panorama. He said the men told him that there were three witnesses that Dave Ames, chairman and owner of Harlequin Resorts, owner of the Buccama Bay Resort, came to his office with a briefcase of money and then left without it.

Referring to that first encounter, the Prime Minister in his March 7 letter said, “By the way, I thought that the allegation which was put to me by Mr Kenyon when he tackled/accosted me on the LIAT aircraft on February 17, 2013, was that there was one alleged incident involving monies for which there were three witnesses. Now I learn from your questions that there are three alleged occasions of alleged money transfers.

“It is instructive that you have not alleged for what purpose these monies were brought and left. And you have not alleged by whom these monies were received. Whoever fabricated these allegations for your team of journalists have gravely misled you. They are simply LIES uttered by LIARS!” Gonsalves said in his letter.

Lawyer Samuel Commissiong has also strongly refuted the allegation that money exchanged hands at his office.