Baldwin Spencer and Harold Lovell
ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has exposed what he regards as the duplicity of opposition leaders Baldwin Spencer and Harold Lovell in a letter written by them to Governor General Sir Rodney Williams that refers to the Commissions of Inquiry Act.
Browne was responding to a letter he received from the governor general that brought to his attention the correspondence sent by the leaders of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) and captioned Commission of Inquiry.
The letter referred to an article published on December 22, 2016, in a Brazilian newspaper in relation to the Odebrecht bribery scandal that featured Antigua and Barbuda in a very negative light.
The letter went on to claim that the good name of Antigua and Barbuda has thereby been brought into disrepute but simply told the governor general what he surely already knew, namely, that he has power under the law to “issue a Commission… to inquire into the conduct or management of any department of the public service … or of any public officer of Antigua and Barbuda … or into any matter in which an inquiry would, in the opinion of the governor-general be for the public welfare”, without actually calling on the governor general to do so.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne
Browne, in his response, said that Spencer and Lovell are selective in what they deem to have brought the good name of Antigua and Barbuda into disrepute and this clearly demonstrates their duplicity. The recent claims by the opposition are based on allegations of which they have admitted that they have no proof.
“There is another matter – one of fact, not allegation – in which the leader has been named in court documents in the United States and which did bring the good name of Antigua and Barbuda into grave disrepute. This is their involvement with the late John Ashe in a scandal that occupied major news media throughout the world for many weeks, and shamed our country globally. That matter is still under scrutiny,” Browne stated.
The prime minister also pointed out that, while no member of his government has been implicated in any scandal involving Odebrecht or its offshore bank, Meinl, there are proven facts that the two signatories of the letter to the governor general are affiliated with the bank and individuals involved with the bank.
“Both (Spencer and Lovell) are intimately involved with Luiz Franca (named in their letter) who was an official of Meinl bank and, at the same time, an honorary consul to Brazil, appointed by Baldwin Spencer while he was prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, and with whom Harold Lovell had a relationship while he occupied the post of minister of finance. Mr Lovell has since publicly admitted that he received payments from Meinl bank. The nature of the services is not yet known,” Browne said.
He also pointed out that his government has been very transparent in requests for mutual legal assistance involving activities of Odebrecht through Meinl bank.
“Requests for mutual legal assistance into the activities of Odebrecht through Meinl Bank have been received by the government of Antigua and Barbuda from the governments of Brazil and Peru and these requests have been – and are being given full attention by ONDCP,” Browne outlined.