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LIAT denies leasing planes owned by St Vincent PM
Published on January 23, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Caribbean News Now contributor

ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- Regional airline LIAT said it has no aircraft leases with prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves or any shareholder of the airline and categorically denied the suggestion that Gonsalves has anything to do with the leasing of aircraft to LIAT.

The issue arose as a result of the publication of an article dated January 17, 2014, in the Barbados Free Press online blog entitled “Report of Conflict of Interest: Saint Vincent PM Ralph Gonsalves said to own 2 LIAT aircraft”.

The anonymous author concluded that “The conflict of interest arises because SVG is one of the major shareholders in LIAT. Government funds are involved and Prime Minister Gonsalves is heavily involved in decision making about the airline”.

However, according to LIAT, the two aircraft mentioned in the article are owned by a publicly listed US based leasing company trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

“LIAT has always had arm’s length negotiations with this lessor and its relationship with this lessor is firmly set on a commercial basis,” the airline said.

LIAT said it supports the freedom of the press in all media and the highest standards of journalism, which include the verification of sources and information obtained.

“At no time was LIAT requested to comment on the allegation before the publication of the anonymous blog,” the airline said.

LIAT added that it views conflict of interest very seriously and abides by principles of good corporate governance.

Acting LIAT CEO Julie Reifer-Jones commented: “These statements are reckless and mischievous. Such reports negatively impact the travelling public, our Caribbean community constituents, and the staff of our airline. LIAT distances itself from these unverified reports and remains committed to channeling our energies into our modernization programme and to putting LIAT on a profitable footing.”
 
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