By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- According to British newspaper, The Mail on Sunday, a prominent hotelier recently murdered in Saint Lucia may have been caught up in a money-laundering scheme that cost him his life.
Friends of millionaire Oliver Gobat, 38, said he had been living in fear after being threatened by ‘investors’ in a property deal he was putting together, the newspaper reported.
One theory being pursued by police is that money he was using to finance a new hotel development came from a drugs gang who were using the legitimate business to launder their cash.
Gobat’s charred body was found in the burnt-out wreckage of a Range Rover in an exclusive resort area in the north of the island.
His family owns and operates the luxurious Cap Maison hotel in Saint Lucia. Gobat was also the executive director of The Landings Hotel, once described as one of the Caribbean’s top 25 luxury resort hotels.
Sources said the victim had been shot twice in the head before being doused with gasoline and set alight. Nearby residents had reported hearing sounds of gunshots before spotting flames from the burning vehicle.
A short while later the burned out vehicle was discovered with a body of a man in the passenger seat. Sources said there were no keys in the vehicle and the doors were locked.
The manner of Gobat’s death has led police to believe he was the victim of a contract killing.
A Saint Lucia police spokesman said Gobat’s death was “no ordinary murder” but declined to elaborate further.
A local police source said, “This has all the hallmarks of a professional killing.”
A US intelligence source confirmed that the modus operandi of the killing was known to be that of a South American criminal organisation.
The discovery of the charred remains brings to three the number of dead bodies to have been found in the north of the island last month.
Previously, the body of a 22-year-old man was found, with residents near the area claiming that there was a sack over the head and the hands were bound.
In a separate incident, the decomposed body of a yet unidentified individual was found in bushes.
Gobat’s murder was the island’s 13th homicide for 2014 and local media reported that “over 400 lives have been taken in Saint Lucia without a single charge laid.”
According to local observers, this latest violent death has served to highlight once again a number of unresolved issues for the government of Saint Lucia, including:
• the competency of justice minister Senator Philip La Corbiniere to handle citizen security matters;
• what has been described as a “dysfunctional” forensic laboratory built and equipped at a cost of just over $6 million;
• the propensity of the government to attempt to deal with such incidents as a public relations exercise rather than as a matter for the police and justice system; and
• the police force itself, which remains under a cloud pending the completion and publication of an independent report into alleged murders by its own officers.