Money paid to crooks not from consolidated fund – PM
July 12, 2013

Money paid to crooks not from consolidated fund – PM

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has disclosed that the money transferred to crooks in the West African nation of Senegal by the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) did not come from the consolidated fund.{{more}}

Responding to a question posed by a journalist at a press conference Wednesday, Gonsalves said that while he was tracking down the issue, he inquired how was it that the money had been paid.

He said that was when he discovered that the money sent to Africa by Western Union was not government money.

“It might have been from resources residing in the police force,” Gonsalves said.

He however said he does not intend to interfere with how the RSVGPF deals with their own internal monies.

“That is what I was advised, because when he had said to me that it would be repaid, I thought at the time, it was government’s money, but it turned out when I questioned in detail in relation to how, because I wanted to know specifically that authorization and whom it was done by, because I am the custodian of your money,” Gonsalves said.

During Building Blocks, a radio programme which aired last month on Star Radio, Commissioner of Police Keith Miller, responding to callers who asked if he had repaid the money sent to crooks, said he would like to know to whom does he owe.

It was reported in the November 9 2012 issue of SEARCHLIGHT, that in October 2012, Sergeant Junior Simmons of the RSVGPF sent EC$9,439.12 by Western Union money transfer to persons in Senegal.

The money was sent by the RSVGPF official, thinking that he was paying for accommodation, insurance and visas for Miller, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Ruth Jacobs and Simmons to attend a conference on Human Trafficking in Senegal.

In that same edition, Miller confirmed to SEARCHLIGHT that he was the victim of an Internet scam and said that the matter was under investigation.

In an interview on November 12, 2012, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves told SEARCHLIGHT that Miller had accepted full responsibility for and will repay the Government the $9,904.12 lost to crooks in West Africa as a result of the scam.

“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,” the Prime Minister said.

“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.

Cabinet memos dated October 9, 2012 and October 19, 2012, obtained by SEARCHLIGHT, say that Cabinet approved the attendance of the three police officers at the conference, and two sets of funds – $5,134.94 and $1,126.58, for accommodation, subsistence and insurance, respectively.

A source however subsequently told SEARCHLIGHT that the money actually sent to Senegal by Western Union Money Transfer may have come from the police credit union and not from the Government Treasury, with the intention to repay the credit union when the government funds became available. (DD)