Government acted promptly, says Prime Minister
February 21, 2014

Government acted promptly, says Prime Minister

The government, upon reaching a sufficient confirmation of the allegations against former deputy consul general Edson Augustus, acted promptly, said Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.{{more}}

Dr Gonsalves said on Tuesday at a media briefing, that the Government began putting things in place to have Augustus recalled 24 hours after receiving the first allegation on February 5.

“I want the people to know how expeditiously the Government worked,” Gonsalves said.

He explained that on the afternoon of February 5, he received the first of three telephone calls with the allegation that Augustus had been engaged in an activity of facilitating out of status Vincentians to obtain Permanent Resident Cards for a fee.

Two calls followed – one which was made to the Prime Minister on Thursday, February 6, Gonsalves said.

He said that he was informed about the collection of fees by one of the informants via telephone.

“It is not the business of the consul to facilitate anyone in getting to stay in the United States or to perform any such tasks as that of an immigration consultant; that’s not the job of the consulate,” Gonsalves explained.

Following receipt of the allegations brought against Augustus the Prime Minister said that he contacted the former diplomat on February 6.

“I have been a lawyer for some time and in my conversation, I received a sufficient confession of the allegation on the telephone,” he said.

He said that he explained to Augustus that his situation had become ‘untenable’ and that he should expect to hear from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to the Prime Minister, a diplomatic note was sent on February 6 to the United States government, through the US Embassy in Barbados.

Gonsalves further explained that there was another procedure which had to be effected – a notification of termination needed to be sent via an electronic transmission to the US State Department Office of Foreign Missions, he said and this was also done on February 6.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs acted promptly in recalling Augustus, Gonsalves said, with the former diplomat receiving correspondence by way of a letter of his immediate recall on February 6.

He was notified that the recall would have taken effect on February 7.

On Wednesday, February 12, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a letter to the Accountant General on the point of terminating salary and on February 17, an official letter of termination of employment was generated by the P.S. to the Chief Personnel Officer.

“How can anybody fault the manner in which the Government has acted?” Gonsalves questioned.

“The Government acted in the best tradition in upholding high standards in the diplomatic service,” he continued. (DD)